“Inspire, Provoke, Motivate, Create – if I’ve done
that in any given day, my heart is glad.”
Pam’s life mantra is IPMC: “Inspire, Provoke, Motivate, Create,” which also serves as the foundation for her leadership within the community. She uses these four simple words to help her find her way in the world and to help others find and share their creative endeavors.
Pam grew up as an only child, and “because of that I became very creative. I was never bored.” For example, she would play school, using her stuffed animals as the students and creating textbooks where she would make sure some of the answers were incorrect, thereby making Pam both teacher and student. While many children play school, Pam’s version of school play demonstrated the creative vision that sets her apart as a leader in the Michiana community. After high school, Pam attended art college where she found “some true loves” about herself. When she realized she was unable to return to college, she took a 40 hour a week job which meant that “all of my love and creativity and artwork was mostly done after I got off the work week. It’s like I’m living a double life.” Her work week consists of spending Monday through Friday at the job which pays the bills, while her off work hours are devoted to her true loves, “designing cards, painting, drawing, writing poetry.” In this sense, for Pam, “Art became like a lover.”
As a way to share her love of poetry as well as her poetic voice, Pam began participating in open mic nights throughout the area. This experience helped Pam to realize that there were no venues or events in the area specifically dedicated to poetry. Living into her IPMC mantra, Pam created the “Poetry Den” a space where her friends could hang out, and friends and strangers could share poetry. Originally hosted at Chicory Café, the Poetry Den spent a few years at Merriman’s Playhouse and the Colfax Cultural Center before ending up in its current location at the Indiana University South Bend Civil Rights Heritage Center. Pam continues to host it there on the last Sunday evening of each month.
For Poetry Den, Pam’s vision was to provide a space for established poets to share their work. However, Poetry Den also creates a space for new and emerging poets to share their work in a positive environment with like-minded others, an homage to Pam’s early open mic night experiences. Pam’s vision for the Poetry Den is to continue to expand its offerings and reach. One of the things that still “pulls at my heart” is Pam’s hope to eventually be able to pay poets who share their work.
Poetry Den continues to expand by going on the road. For example, Pam has collaborated with the Snite Museum at the University of Notre Dame to host three different events. These events bring together students and community members to collaborate around artwork and exhibits on display at the Snite. She has also taken Poetry Den to Goshen for the Riverbend Movie Fest. After a film about poetry slams, Pam facilitated a mini Poetry Den. Her future goals are to build a network of poets that can then present at various events around the community. Pam recently partnered with the Kroc Institute and the Indiana University South Bend Civil Rights Heritage Center to host a 12-hour poetry marathon in honor of National Poetry Month.
With her art, Pam continues to spread the message that everyone should “love yourself, take care of you.”
Information compiled from oral history collected by Michiana Women Leaders, Inc.
Pam was a 2019 Celebrating Michiana Women Leaders honoree.