Poets create accessible reading workshop

Left to Right: Terra Teets, Mattie Hyer, Randy X. Cissell, and Casey Hausner

Courtesy of Goat Farm Poetry Society

Left to Right: Terra Teets, Mattie Hyer, Randy X. Cissell, and Casey Hausner

Tyler Smith, North Campus Editor

The Goat Farm Poetry Society fights to make poetry accessible foor Pittsburgh communities.

“Goat Farm is a radical poetry workshop and community,” said Terra Teets. Teets is one of two co-founders of Goat Farm and is currently an undergraduate writing mentor at Chatham University.

Our mission is to make poetry more accessible and available to adult communities outside of the university setting,” Teets added.

Goat Farm’s purpose is much more than just a reading group. This Lawrenceville based reading workshop has made it their mission to make poetry accessible to individuals that may not have the opportunity to delve in it before.

Publicized in October 2018, the purpose of Goat farm is clear and focused. “We want to make literature accessible to everybody,” said Mattie Hyer, the second co-founder and co-facilitator of Goat Farm. “Whenever we hold our poetry groups, we make sure everyone has physical copies of the reading material, and when we meet, we typically read out loud to make it as accessible as possible.”

Mattie Hyer is currently a double major in majoring Psychology with a concentration in crisis, trauma, and counseling, as well as majoring in creative writing where their focus is on poetry. They currently help run the undergraduate reading series at Carlow University.

“I feel like there is a misconception that poetry is all and only old dead white men, and so we focus primarily on contemporary writers. we feature a lot of women, people of color, trans, non-binary, and queer people,” said Mattie. “Our goal for this spring was to make it possible for our community to encounter contemporary, challenging, and diverse published poets, along with strengthening our knowledge of each other’s work,” added Terra Teets.

If it’s anything that Hyer and Teets want people to know, it’s that Goat Farm is more than a reading group, it is a tool for the community. It’s to let them know that poetry is also for them. Mattie explained this desire when they said, “Goat Farm was created out of the desire to bring a community of people together to learn and I just hope that it inspires people to feel that creating their own space is tangible.”

Within the last six months, the impact of Goat Farm is apparent. To much success, they recently released their first collective project, the Edges zine. With its release, Goat Farm held a benefit reading and raised over $300 for Book ‘Em, an all-volunteer project which sends books to prisoners in Pennsylvania for free.

With their benefit reading, they were able to provide over 150 more packages to prisoners, adding to the 33,000 books that Book ‘Em has sent since their start in 2000.

“We hope to collaborate further with other organizations that encourage literacy and creativity with marginalized people,” Teets said while discussing their recent benefit reading.

Goat Farm’s desire to be such an accessible workshop comes from a love for poetry that Goat Farm and Pittsburgh as a collective shares. Pittsburgh is a city that is blooming with art, and some feel that poetry is more important now than ever.

“I think this city encourages a special kind of poiesis.” said Teets. “Each neighborhood seems to have its own personality, or aura, its created around itself. I notice a kind of energy related to pride of place in each neighborhood that is so beautifully sustained,” Teets explained.

Terra holds a view that poetry is a movement that eludes meaning and that it can’t be pinned down by any definition. “It is how language changes, how we remember, how we dream, and what we do with what prosaic language, more entangled in modalities of power, struggles to hold,” says Teets.

Mattie said, “Poetry is expression of emotion, expression of feeling. Poetry is political, poetry is whatever somebody wants it to be. For me it’s a healing experience, and it’s a way for me to learn more about myself and the world and see things in different ways and perspectives.”

Bringing both of their love and desire to make poetry accessible, Goat Farm has flourished under their leadership, and they hope to keep Goat Farm around for a long time.

Goat Farm meets at the Crazy Mocha in Lawrenceville at 4032 Butler Street. They are scheduled to continue meeting until May 19 and, following a short break, will start meeting back up in September.

For more information containing Goat Farm Poetry Society, contact them at either their Facebook page, ‘Goat Farm Poet Society’, or at their email ‘[email protected]’. They urge anyone who is even slightly interested to contact them.