Heartwood Soundstage, Gainesville’s newest music venue located at 619 S. Main St., is hosting its first live poetry event Wednesday.

The event, “The Power of Words: Five Poets Speak,” will feature published local poets Eric Diamond, Roger Reep, Eddie Suggs and special guests E. Stanley Richardson and J.N. Fishhawk.

Suggs, who is originally from Ocala, will be reading from his upcoming poetry book “Back on this Side/A Second Chance at Enlightenment.” Suggs said his poetry is inspired by his activist efforts, his childhood experiences and the struggles he has faced in life.

“I’ve had a lot of tragedy in my life, and it’s how you respond to it that makes the difference,” Suggs said.

Now 58, Suggs has been writing poetry for about 40 years and initially pursued the medium as a means of escape.

“Being able to go into a different world was so important to me because of how I grew up,” Suggs said. “I could express myself very well on the page.”

Suggs was first approached for this event by Diamond with the idea of originally doing a three-person show including Reep, but the idea expanded to feature Richardson and Fishhawk. Suggs said it’s important to feature local talent because this is the first poetry event of this size in Gainesville.

“Just to be on the same stage with some of these people is just an experience itself,” Suggs said. “So many different styles of poetry there that night. A goal is just to get the public aware of the kind of voices we have in this town before they get away from us — because we have a very transient town.”

Fishhawk, who has been writing poetry since he was 13 years old, was first inspired to write poetry by reading the works of both classic and contemporary poets and the spoken word movement during the ‘90s.

Fishhawk said he hopes that hosting an event like this at Heartwood will raise awareness for the art itself and establish poetry as a live art that can happen at a venue of that scale.

“It’s an exciting new venue … I love the combination of a live venue and a recording studio,” Fishhawk said. “I hope this will inspire people to bring poetry into their lives. Anyone can learn how to write a poem and write it well.”

Doors open at 7:00 p.m., and the poetry readings will last from 7:30 p.m. to 9:45 p.m. Tickets are $8 through eventbrite.com or $10 at Heartwood for presale and at the door. Refreshments will be provided at the event. For more information, go to heartwoodsoundstage.com.

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