Omaha Public Library began working with the Nebraska Writers Collective (NWC) in 2009 when Matt Mason joined their ranks. Since then, Mason has worked alongside OPL Youth & Family Services Manager Julie Humphrey to grow the Teen Poetry Bash, which recently held its 16th annual event; and Adult Services Librarian Erin Duerr to launch Show & Tell StorySlam, which happens quarterly.
Mason said, “I've seen this partnership make a difference in Omaha, as it is two organizations really working to bring good projects to the community. The story slams bring a nationally-known kind of event to town where it had not been happening yet. The poetry writing workshops offer great, free opportunities for young writers to work with artists who've toured, written books, and are well known. And, the Teen Poetry Bash is a fantastic opportunity for young poets to share their work for a receptive audience.”
Duerr affirms that the partnership is vital to the success of the events. “There's no doubt for me that our partnership with NWC is what makes Show & Tell StorySLAM work. Matt Mason has been our emcee for each of our events and his work on and off the stage has been invaluable. Matt can energize a crowd whether it's 50 people or five. Without NWC I don't think the storytelling would be of the caliber that we've seen.”
Looking toward the future, Duerr said, “I think Matt and I would like to see Show & Tell StorySLAM continue as long as there is an audience for it. I believe story slams are a great way for writers to share their work, and also offer a fun, low stakes opportunity for a novice storyteller to take the stage. The library is in the business of connecting people with ideas, information and stories, and what better way to connect people with stories than live and in person. Story slams and poetry events are just another way for the library to say, ‘Hey, this right here, is a really good story, I think you should check it out.’”