Dr. Jonah Mixon-Webster Speaks at IVCC

Matthew Goodbred, Staff Writer

With a strong combination of storytelling and impactful poetry, Dr. Jonah Mixon-Webster gave an empowering speech on April 5 at the Mary Margaret Weeg Cultural Centre about his life through his debut poetry collection, Stereo(TYPE). 

His story is that of a young black boy, who was bullied because of his looks and sexuality, and how as a young man he struggled living in Flint, Mich., during the Flint Water Crisis. 

After sharing some of these harrowing experiences, he still urges the audience to look for the beauty in life and if you can’t find it to, “make stuff beautiful for yourself.” 

The most important message Dr. Mixon-Webster wants to pass on through his story was, despite how many times you fail, to not give up. 

 Before he shared his first poem he stated, “No matter where you are in your journeys… just don’t give up on yourself. That is the most important thing I want my work to tell people,” after sharing that he was a two-time college dropout and has been to jail three times in his life. 

This event was made possible by the work of the One Book, One College Program at IVCC and more specifically, Delores Robinson and Jayna Leipart Guttilla. 

When asked for comments on the event both Robinson and Guttilla shared similar sentiments, saying it was great that Mixon-Webster was able to share his perspective on troubling topics like racism, homophobia, bullying, and inequity. 

They were also thrilled to see the turnout of the event and to be able to bring the community together and offer this experience to them. 

Dr. Mixon-Webster is a poet and conceptual sound artist. He is an alumnus at Eastern Michigan University and earned a doctorate in Creative Writing at Illinois State University. His collection, Stereo(TYPE), has received the 2019 PEN America/Joyce Osterweil Award and the 2020 Windham-Campbell Prize, and was a finalist for the 2019 Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry