Camp Arifjan Poetry Night
November 20, 2009
For over a year now, servicemembers have been demonstrating their creativity every Sunday night at Camp Arifjan's Zone 6 Starbucks with Poetry Night. There, servicemembers are given a creative outlet to not only share their passion for writing, but their joy for singing as well.
The songs and poems are meant to entertain and inspire military members, and hopefully build morale as well. The Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AFFES) have gone as far as sponsoring the event with gift certificates to the performers.
"The event's gained somewhat of a cult following here in Kuwait," said Staff Sgt. Stephen Cleveland, Equal Opportunity Non-Commissioned Officer In Charge for the 1864th Transportation Company and a regular participant Sunday nights. "They actually bus people in from other installations to participate because of the popularity of Poetry Night."
"I think soldiers see this as an opportunity to escape their military duties for a night and use the art of expression to show their special talents," the Las Vegas native added.
The host of Poetry Night for the past year, Staff Sgt. Antonyo Merrell, signals specialist for the 519th Signals Company, uses his own unique humor and personality to add laughter to the outing.
"I try to liven up the evening by poking fun at the participants and by also giving nicknames to the performers who come on a regular basis," said Merrell. "Certain singers and poetry readers begin to develop a reputation over time and I feel like it's my job to highlight that."
"The sponsorship from our friends at AAFES is what has really made this event a success since it started," he added.
AAFES Food Business Manager for Kuwait and Southern Iraq, Kevin Tryon, believes that sponsoring Poetry Night is a good way for AAFES to show their appreciation for everything the troops do.
"As a Desert Storm veteran, we didn't have anything like this back in the early 90s," Tryon said with a chuckle. "When I tell guys I served with back in Desert Storm that there is a Starbucks here now and we have fun events like this going on, they look at me with disbelief."
"AAFES loves doing things like this as a way of thanking servicemembers for all they do for the U.S., and also for being loyal customers," he added.
Poetry Night starts at 1900 every Sunday night and runs through 2100. For military members and civilians who wish to participate, they can just show up the night of the event and sign up to read a poem. A guitarist and sound technician are there as well to support those who wish to sing.