The Free Press, Mankato, MN

January 23, 2014

Registration concludes Sunday for 410 Project's poetry slam

By Emre K. Erku
Special to The Free Press

---- — A major responsibility for writers and artists is perfecting every tier of the process of creation, beginning to end.

To the folks at The 410 Project, a downtown Mankato art gallery, providing opportunities for artists to hone their craft is an imperative part of the gallery's mission.

In this case, the 410 is hosting a night of poetry and short stories — called "Poetry Slam – Who’s The Wordsmith?" — on Jna. 31 at the gallery, 523 S. Front St.

Registration for the event concludes Sunday during regular gallery hours (1 to 4 p.m). The event is open to all willing writers and musicians. Dana Sikkila, director of the 410, predicted that Minnesota State University graduate students will fill most of the 12 five-minute time slots.

“It’s almost like a confidence builder,” said Sikkila, sitting at a table inside 410’s wood-floored workshop saturated with old blotches of paint. “Here we try to make a space that feels comfortable – we try to make people look good.”

Since 2003, the 410 and its sister entity, Black Water Press, have served as an art factory, assisting and encouraging young artists and writers in conveying their material to the public. Technically a volunteer-run arts organization, it subsists largely on funds donated by local patrons. In turn, emerging artists in the Mankato area are given the opportunity to spotlight their material and develop their portfolio.

“If you don’t put yourself out there, it’s really hard for somebody to grow," Sikkila said. "You get up there and you do it. Then, it’ll make you feel really good about yourself.”

Sikkila continued by saying the event is a great stepping stone for artists, because in this artistic world: “You have to be an entertainer.”