The brewing floor of Madison’s House of Brews is often bustling with activity, but not like this. Brittany Cavallaro reads from selections from her latest book of poems to a crowd squeezed in between the kettlers, fermenters, and bags of grain.
Ryan Browne is the organizer and homebrewer behind Poetry and Pints – poetry readings in unconventional spaces accompanied by beer. He started them as a way to bring together his two passions after moving to Madison. It also gave him an ‘in’ with the writing community in his new town. So far, he’s done events in living rooms, parks, backyards, and another brewery in St. Louis. This is the first time the event has been held on the actual brewing floor, however.
Browne is a poet himself but he didn’t read on this day. Four poets take turns sharing poems and stories. Among them is Max Garland, the former poet laureate and a resident of Eau Claire.
Poetry can seem intimidating but poet Cynthia Maria Hoffman thinks that events like this can help break down barriers. She encourages people to come out to poetry readings and to hear the stories about the poems.
“We’re not scary people,” Hoffman says, laughing.
The beer doesn’t hurt either.
“Beer is the great social lubricant,” declares Browne.
Browne loves to see the poets and audience interact. One minute they are talking poetry, the next, beer.
Browne brews all the beer himself. Today’s beers featured all Wisconsin ingredients as a tribute to Garland and the state’s great brewing industry.