Danielle McClelland, executive director of the Buskirk-Chumley Theater. Photo by Rodney Margison


Sometimes one thing leads to another—and in the case of Words! A Bloomington Celebration of Poetry and Spoken Word, that’s a beautiful thing, says Danielle McClelland, executive director of the Buskirk-Chumley Theater (BCT). From March 2–7, organizations from the community are coming together to celebrate the spoken word at venues across the city and on the Indiana University campus.

“This all generated around the successful booking of Andrea Gibson,” McClelland says, referring to the acclaimed poet who won the inaugural Woman of the World Poetry Slam in 2008. “With their appearance [March 6] in such proximity to the Bloomington Poetry Slam [March 2] it seemed natural to have an event.”

McClelland says the BCT works with many different kinds of organizations, both town and gown, year-round. “So it wasn’t all that difficult to send the word out to everyone I know who is involved with poetry or spoken word and ask if they were planning anything within that time frame,” she says. Then it was just a matter of seeing how they could collaborate on timing and marketing to create a word-based festival.

Events kick off with the Bloomington Poetry Slam at The Bishop. “It’s been a solid, growing event with some amazing writers who live right here in Bloomington,” McClelland says.

She’s also excited to bring Gibson to the BCT. “I’ve been a huge fan for a long time,” she says. “Their performance will resonate not only with people who are interested in poetry and writing but in social change and LGBT perspectives. And they have some of the most romantic love poems I’ve ever heard or read.”

Another highlight is a showing of Window Horses, an animated film written and directed by award-winning filmmaker Ann Marie Fleming. The film screening is sponsored by the Center for the Study of the Middle East.

“Bloomington has such a strong literary written- and spoken-word community,” McClelland says. “I saw this as an opportunity to leverage the Andrea Gibson event to showcase that richness.”

Other programs are being planned. For more information, tickets, and an up-to-date calendar of events, visit bctboxoffice.org/spoken-word-celebration.