With monthly gatherings at the Tube Factory Artspace in the Garfield Park neighborhood, NIGHTJAR is a poetry group that meets to listen to featured speakers and participate in an open mic, according to co-founder Michelle Niemann. Niemann and University of Indianapolis Staff Advisor Christopher Carrier founded NIGHTJAR to share their love for poetry with others within the community.
“We were trying to make something that didn’t exist elsewhere in the city or trying to fill a gap…,” Carrier said. “So, we wanted to do something on the south side, something that was local to this area.”
NIGHTJAR meets every third Wednesday of the month at 7 p.m. with meetings planned out for early 2024. Niemann said NIGHTJAR features readers from the Indianapolis area, and they are looking to bring in poets from around Indiana to the Garfield Park neighborhood.
“We’re hoping to help build the poetry community in Indianapolis along with all these other great reading series in town that are doing that in different ways…,” Niemann said. “There’s quite a lot of poetry readings and open mics happening in Indy more than someone might expect, so that’s cool. We want to contribute to that, and also draw in people in our neighborhood who are curious about poetry, or open to this kind of thing but not necessarily poets themselves.”
According to Niemann, the word NIGHTJAR stems from the idea of the nocturnal bird and how poets often use jars and birds within their work. On the first evening of NIGHTJAR, Carrier said they were not sure what the turnout was going to be, but they were happy with the amount of people who were there and engaged in the readings. The opportunity to share the works of others’ poetry helps build a sense of community.
“Poetry builds community, people have abilities, they have thoughts, they have desires, they have feelings, they have all these things, they come out in various ways, creative ways,” Carrier said. “We’re focusing on the way they come out in poetry, , and giving people encouragement to do that. There’s value in that giving them a place where they can share and everyone is equal in that way”
The Tube Factory offers a unique space for these readings to be held, according to Niemann. Artwork and other professional works are displayed throughout the venue along with an inviting atmosphere.
“It is a cool space, there are three art galleries and rotating exhibits. Every month or two, you’ll get new art in the spaces,” Niemann said. “It also has a little coffee shop that sells coffee, alcohol and snacks. People can show up early and get that kind of thing… It’s in our neighborhood, and we wanted something close by.”
Niemann said she started getting into poetry in middle school and high school before eventually getting her Ph.D. in English. For Carrier, he said he got into poetry as a senior in high school while writing on a desk.
“I started writing poetry when I was a senior in high school, and I was in an algebra class and wasn’t particularly interested,” Carrier said. “I started scribbling around on the desktop and [wrote] short lines, something that was floating around, and I came back a couple days later, and someone had written a response on the desk… So I went out and I bought a notebook, and I started writing. When I went to college, I wanted to be a mechanical engineer and poetry was something I did on the side. But then I decided that it was what I wanted to do. And I followed my passion. So I majored in English professional writing… and got my PhD in English.”
Carrier said he hopes to see more connections from UIndy attend some of their meetings in the future. NIGHTJAR’s next meeting is on Dec. 20 at the Tube Factory with readings and an open mic which revolves around the history of Indianapolis.
“You’re welcome, of course, to just come in and listen to the reading and listen to the open mic. But if you write poetry, check out the prompt. See if you want to write something, the word limit for the prompt is always 317. Which of course, we’re playing on the area code,” Niemann said.