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Coffeehouse serves up poetry, too

One Friday night a month, the area's sometimes-unexpected poets get to stand before an audience.

This month, Carl Scheide, who repairs televisions at Best Buy during the day and sometimes writes poetry at night, shared his writing. His daughter Amy, a student a UNC Charlotte, read her poems and sang songs she has written.

They were the featured readers at the August poetry reading sponsored by the new Indian Trail Art and Historical Society. The organization is trying to “get something started in this neck of the woods,” said co-founder Victoria Mackey.

Poetry nights may be a first for Indian Trail, a town not necessarily known for its artistic bent. Readings are held the first Friday of each month at the Freshly Brewed Coffee House and Cafe on Idlewild Road. The cafe has a room with a stage, sound system, tables and chairs.

Carl and Amy took turns reading on their night. Carl, 49, read poems about faith and introspection. Amy, 20, accompanied herself on the guitar for several songs, including one about a guy she exchanged a glance with in the rain at UNC Charlotte.

The audience of about 10 applauded after each reading and song, and three audience members joined Carl onstage to help read one poem.

The atmosphere was much like an open mike night at a coffee house near a college campus. In the next room, Freshly Brewed owner Linda Dills and her staff served beverages, snacks and meals.

“It's a really smart place,” Amy Scheide said. “It's very well thought out.”

Other activities

Poetry nights are a great fit for Freshly Brewed, which also hosts karaoke twice a week, live music and fundraisers for area projects.

“The whole thing was to reach out to the community and a have a place for people to come, especially with kids,” Dills said.

When Dills read an article Mackey wrote about the Arts and Historical Society, she called Mackey and offered Freshly Brewed as a venue.

“I said, ‘We've got the perfect spot for you,'” Dills said.

Freshly Brewed opened in April 2007 and serves a variety of coffees, snacks and meals.

Last April, Mackey and Robert Hinson, a Union County author and publisher, hosted the first poetry night. They've featured a Presbyterian minister, a college professor and a social services employee. At each event, after the featured poet reads, the microphone is open to anyone.

Mackey and Hinson started the group in 2007 after serving together on the Indian Trail Centennial Committee, which planned events for the town's 100th anniversary .

“We didn't want to just quit and go home,” Mackey said. “There just isn't really anything going on in this area for artists.”

Backed by the town

Mackey and Hinson have grand ideas for connecting Indian Trail with its artists and its American Indian heritage. They say right now they've got the backing of the town's elected officials.

“We know there's a lot of talent here, and we're trying to find a venue to bring it out,” Mackey said. “We want to keep this going no matter who the town council is or who the mayor is.”

Mackey said they plan to have an arts festival next April, hold storytelling events and art contests for students and work with the organizers of Indian Trail's annual Pow Wow.

The Scheides said events like poetry night inspire them to write more.

Carl has been writing poetry since high school, sometimes late at night when he can't sleep. He said he doesn't often tell people he's a poet, but he and Amy have read together at other poetry nights.

Amy, who is majoring in theater and French and who also plays bass for musician Matt Gilmore, said she enjoys playing with words, and her writing often is inspired by books she reads. She said her writing tends to get better once she reads it out loud.

“I feel like a lot of people write but don't show it to anyone,” said Amy, “Any way you can share your art, someone can learn from it.”

As for poetry nights in Indian Trail, Hinson and Mackey said they'll keep hosting them whether they have a table of people or standing room only.

“I just enjoy meeting all of these wonderful poets,” Hinson said. “If we have one person to read to, we're going to read.”