Our first poetry reading was one for the books! Literary Omahans filled up our Benson location to be delighted by our three featured poets. It was a wonderful night of poetry, community and coffee, and here’s the story of how it came to be:

Back in early January, we at Aromas + Bliss and Hardy Coffee Company convened for a company-wide meeting. Jules, our coordinator of all things people, was just assuming her new role. She explained to us that she would be getting to know each of us personally. Our staff is made up of talented, diverse people. Teachers, musicians, activists, artists and the like. Jules remarked that she was eager to utilize each of our unique skillsets.

Around the same time, I had been fretting about my impending graduation from Creighton University, where I study poetry writing. I was worried that once I graduate this May, I would disappear from the literary community. So I met with Jules to brainstorm: how might we bring poetry to Aromas?

And thus, a reading series was born! Jules was unbelievably on-the-ball about setting it up. (She rocks.) She reserved dates for three readings. “We’ll see how these three go,” she said, and just like that I had three weeks to put together all the details for our first reading. Luckily for me, Maranda, fellow poet and manager of the downtown Aromas, offered to be my co-pilot.

To be honest, I was scared. A lot of the planning came down to the wire, but somehow we managed to bring it all together.

Once the event was in progress, I found myself marveling at the power of community. I am still overflowing with gratitude for all the people who helped make this a reality. Catherine, who handled the advertisement. The readers, who committed to getting on stage even with such a small window of preparation time. My professor, who lent us a sound system at the last minute. Jules. Maranda. My fellow bakers for providing the free cookies. Ben at the 402 Arts Collective for being so accommodating. And of course, a big thanks to Autumn for...well, everything she does, actually.

I’m an introvert; networking is outside my comfort zone. But if planning this event has taught me anything, it’s that networking doesn’t have to be scary. When you put yourself out there, it happens naturally. Networking means making meaningful connections. It means turning strangers into friends. That’s our company culture in a nutshell: creating space for individuals to become community.

The mission of this reading series is to reflect that. We want to showcase this aspect of the community at large. Inside Voices shines the spotlight on Nebraska-based poets.

At our next reading, we will hear from three diverse voices. Aubree Else-Woelber and Emily Borgmann from Omaha, and Allison Hraban from Lincoln. It will take place at our Benson location on Thursday, March 16th. Stay tuned to our social media for more information!