Hot Springs poet and musician Spades Vestal will be featured at Wednesday Night Poetry at Kollective Coffee + Tea, 110 Central Ave.
The regular open mic session for all poets, musicians and storytellers will begin at 6:30 p.m. today. Vestal will begin his feature set at 7:30 p.m., followed by another round of open mic. Admission is free and open to all ages. Masks are recommended. All are welcome.
Born in Stillwater, Oklahoma, in 1998, Vestal "reluctantly" now calls Hot Springs home. "My family bounced around states growing up due to my dad working for the U.S. Forest Service, but I'd consider my hometown to be Elkins, West Virginia, since that's where I spent most of my childhood and teenage years," Vestal said in a news release.
"My dad's career ended up bringing us all back to Hot Springs in 2013 and I've been trying to escape ever since.
"I have three siblings, making a family of six. I'm the middle child between my two brothers, Tyler and Zach. Tyler, my older brother, is married with two kids. Zach, my younger brother, lives in D.C. in service as an Old Guard. My sister, Tehya, is the youngest of us, and she's a junior in high school now, which doesn't make me feel young to think about," he said.
"I have two cats, Hubble and Copernicus! Yes, named after the astronomers. I love space, what can I say? Hubble is an anxious protector, and Copernicus is the grumpy old man that needs protecting."
As far as his educational background, Vestal said "I bounced around so many schools and colleges it's become difficult to keep track. High school was split between West Virginia and Arkansas, and I graduated in 2016. I majored in Graphics Design and Music Theory for a year each before having my passion fizzle out for both. I'd love to take classes in Psychology and Theatre though!"
He worked as a barista for Starbucks for three years, then was promoted to shift supervisor and stayed for another two years "before all of the Union-busting was at its peak. That was the straw that broke me. I put in my two weeks, picked up a pen, and started writing. Music and poetry have always been my passion, but I never had the space to create what I wanted to. I guess I was too concerned about making a specific group of people proud of me, so everything I created ended up feeling fake. I didn't start to commit to writing poetry again until late last year. I was at Wednesday Night Poetry, and Emeryn's amazing math poem was what made me want to start writing again."
Vestal describes his poetry as spacey, dreamlike, and rhythmic. "I write mostly about love, heartache, and the ever-present feeling of existential dread that floods my mind," he said.
"What inspires me to write? The things I couldn't say in the moment. The amount of love that I feel for someone. The hurt that couldn't be described without having time to heal first. My thoughts on love, loss, time, and space end up on a page when I can't say it face-to-face.
"Most, if not all, of my poetry has a real-life situation attached to it. 'Reverie Dreams' is a project I started in November, and talks a lot about someone I found a deep connection with, and they opened my eyes to what true love could be. 'Reverie' means 'A state of being pleasantly lost in one's thoughts; a 'daydream,' so 'Reverie Dreams' essentially means 'daydreaming about dreams.' It's me letting my thoughts spill onto the paper, not really caring too much about a specific person seeing it. But rather, something for me to reflect on. To remember events in my life that propel me towards the things I've only dreamed about. True love, and being remembered," he said.
To Vestal, Wednesday Night Poetry means "safety."
"A place where each of us can open our hearts and minds without fear of rejection. I was introduced to WNP through Melon! They mentioned it, and we both thought it would be fun to listen. I had no idea then just how involved I would become, but it's one of the best things that's ever happened to me," he said.
"Spades is a rare and budding young talent, so filled to the brim with emotion and sensitivity. He is part of a whole new energy of young artists/poets at WNP who have bloomed over the last year or so -- Melon, Emeryn, Tanner, Cat, Rowan, Justin, Sky and others who give me such hope for the future of poetry in Hot Springs. Spades' poetry and especially his original song 'Lovely Ghost' are ethereal and haunting in a way that follows you close and lingers with an airy quality steeped in love and longing. I know his words will find their way into many hearts this week," WNP Host and Hot Springs Poet Laureate Kai Coggin said in the release.
"Next week, we kick off National Poetry Month with an incredible world-renowned feature poet visiting from California. Stay tuned for the big surprise," Coggin said.
This week marks 1,783 consecutive Wednesdays of open mic poetry in downtown Hot Springs since Feb. 1, 1989. "WNP is the longest-running consecutive weekly open mic series in the country. Wednesday Night Poetry is a safe space," the release said. Email [email protected] for more information.