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Ampersand Guild: A Home for Local Artists

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Ampersand Guild: A Home for Local Artists

The Monthly Poetry and Spoken Word event occurs once a month at Ampersand Guild on Cherry Street. Photo by Mahima Sultan.

The Monthly Poetry and Spoken Word event occurs once a month at Ampersand Guild on Cherry Street. Photo by Mahima Sultan.

The Monthly Poetry and Spoken Word event occurs once a month at Ampersand Guild on Cherry Street. Photo by Mahima Sultan.

The Monthly Poetry and Spoken Word event occurs once a month at Ampersand Guild on Cherry Street. Photo by Mahima Sultan.

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Cherry Street is home to the new and improved Ampersand Guild that hosts a poetry and spoken word event every second Friday of the month.

When Winsphere Jones, a playwright and two-time published author moved back to his hometown of Macon, he was immediately drawn to Ampersand Guild.

“It’s the root system for something greater in Macon,” he said. “To me, Macon is an arts hub. It’s just not expressed as much as it should be.”

Jones is devoted to engaging Macon residents in supporting local artists and celebrating the art that is being created by people within their community.

“People will pay $200 to see something somewhere else, but they won’t pay $20 to come to a very honest, pure and original show done by somebody in their hometown,” he said. “Don’t limit the people in the city by having them leave to explore and find culture when they have it right here in their own city. Use the people that are here.”

He often recalls remarks about Macon’s untapped potential and believes that the art scene is a part of the culture that needs to be utilized and celebrated.

“This place is where people can come express and be molded into the artist that they want to be,” Jones said. “It’s a starting point for those who never knew about the arts or who have never been involved in theater or poetry, but they find it here.”

The event encourages a safe space for members of the community to explore their creative aspects in a nonjudgmental space.

“The artists that are inside of people cannot emerge until they are given the opportunity to at least express it,” he said.

Each event has a featured artist to perform their piece. February’s featured artist, poet and author Michael Scott, encourages young adults to express themselves with a sense of depth and critical thinking and steer away from digital culture.

“I would love the younger generation to move away from whip and nae-naeing and move into deep thought,” Scott said. “Our society is slowly getting dumbed down. We don’t say ‘be right back’ anymore, we say BRB. We don’t say ‘I gotta go,’ we say G2G.”

Jones emphasizes the importance of using art, whether it be through spoken word, music or poetry, as an outlet to release pent-up turmoil.

“Sometimes in spilling these emotions you purge a lot of feelings you may have in the world, but that purging is actually a part of creativity within you that becomes something organic that you may not have even known was there,” he said.

Jones wrote his book while he was purging his feelings through writing and won two awards in the process.

“It may not have been perfect, but that’s not the point,” he said. “The point is that I was able to get over things by being able to express them through writing, through the arts.”

Jones aims to help people of all ages and cultures to let go and delve into the power of writing.  

“We are here to support each other, no matter what we’re doing,” he said. “We may not understand what the poem is about, that’s not for us to judge. We’re just supposed to listen and take it in.”

He wants each month to bring new people with new stories into Ampersand. He believes that everyone is a vessel and that they have the power to touch others through their art.

“There are so many talented people here that have not been tapped into, or they don’t know they’re talented, they just haven’t been in a situation to express it,” Jones said. “If you are truly yourself, you’ll always be successful.”

While the monthly event primarily focuses on poetry and spoken word, Jones aims to expand and introduce theatrical performances and music to Ampersand’s stage.

“Poetry is essential to life, and life is essential for poetry to exist,” Jones said.

The event is funded by the John S. and James. L. Knight Foundation, which promotes freedom of expression, and seeks visionary projects that lead to positive community engagement according to the event’s Facebook page.

The next Poetry and Spoken Word event will be held Friday, Feb. 8 at 7 p.m. Mercer students with student IDs who are not performing will cost $7 and for those who are performing it is $3.  

 

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