Denton’s Punk Poet Society

Denton’s Punk Poet Society

April 17
01:39 2014

Samantha McDonald // Contributing Writer

Trayce Cochran walks up the stage at the local coffee shop, Banter, with a folded sheet of paper he slips into his back jean pocket before he reaches the microphone. He looks at the audience, smiling at familiar faces while acknowledging the newcomers.

“To the dreamers, the truth-seekers, the old, the young, the warmongers, the pacifists and those who fight to just keep breathing – these verses are for you,” he said. “Because you and your life is the truest kind of poetry.”

And for the Punk Poet Society, that’s what poetry truly is.

Founded two years ago by UNT alumnus Robert Torres, the Punk Poet Society is a community of mostly student poets who share original and published poetry that range from twentieth century poets like T.S. Eliot to modern-day activist poet Andrea Gibson.

The group, which took its name from the ‘80s punk subculture movement, meets once a month on Mondays at Banter on West Oak Street and draws crowds of 40 to 50 people on busy nights.

While poetry is generally seen as a form of entertainment, founding member Travis Crockett said that the society believes it means more than that.

“Poetry contributes to the aesthetic of life – of finding beauty even when it’s not obvious – and to be the messenger of a poem, the feeling is just wonderful,” he said.

Theatre arts junior Lauren Belmore said that the society’s choices of poems include general academia, philosophical concepts and theatrical dialogue, which are presented in each session of “Poetry Out Loud,” the name they assign to their monthly event.

“We pride ourselves on walking the line between traditional poetry and slang and spoken poetry,” said Belmore, who has been performing with the society for five months. “There are no real set rules – it’s whatever you want to do with your art.”

The society regularly hosts events that allow members to take advantage of this freedom, such as Punk Poets Bingo and poetry parties wherein a theme, such as fright for Halloween, restricts the poets to written works that elicit that particular emotion.

“It helps you learn to put the pieces together and allows the poet to experiment with new things,” Belmore said.

The society also meets informally at Cochran’s house before performances in order to critique one another’s poems. Cochran, a barista at Banter and member of the society for 10 months, said that he holds these workshops to enhance camaraderie among members and to improve the writing of new inductees through mentoring.

“Even though [the society is] non-competitive, everybody still wants to do well,” he said. “The better the people around, the better the work gets.”

These improvements show in their performances, said artist and photographer Ellie Gonzalez at Monday night’s “Poetry Out Loud.”

Gonzalez, who runs her own group of poets based in Dallas, said that the dynamics and the delivery expressed by members of the Punk Poet Society is a learning experience for budding poets.

“You can appreciate their use of emotions, especially when you can see that they’re very vulnerable,” she said. “It really provides you with a different perspective on poetry.”

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