By October 18, 2016 Read More →

Catching up with Summer Krafft: Poet, Performer and Community Advocate

Catching up with Summer Krafft: Poet, Performer and Community Advocate

By Monica Barber

Poetry Night at the Queen Bean will celebrate it’s 3rd Anniversary on November 1st hosted by Summer Krafft. (Photo credit Monica Barber)

Summer Krafft emerges from the street entrance of The Queen Bean Coffeehouse, walking with normal-human steadiness in her comfortable flats, greeting myself and then the employees by name, the appearance of an intimidating confidence melts away with the warmth of an disarming hug, endearing large eyes and the prominence of a huge smile. Graciously she apologizes for being a few minutes behind. “I wouldn’t cancel; I have a hard time when people do that. Thank you for having me.” It’s been approximately two years since my first time sitting down with Krafft for an interview and she’s still as down-to-earth about the process as she was then. Today, she looks super-casual compared to her put-together look when hosting Poetry Night at the Queen Bean Coffee House. Fresh-faced, casual tee and denim combo paired with an updo, she barely resembles her somewhat professional host role this afternoon. 

It has been a while since I’ve had something to talk about,” she said. But after the whirlwind year or two Summer Krafft has had, it seems her modesty proceeds her. Recently after watching her up on stage at the MAMA’s accepting one of this year’s Dashboard MAMA Awards for her community efforts with Poetry Night, it’s hard not to talk about her accomplishments. Whether it’s Poetry Night, sharing her next venture with Center Stage Conservatory, or pumping up the next performer with an energetic enthusiasm in her PerformingView for the ModestoView, Summer Krafft is an advocate for the community. It hardly seems to be true to her as she modestly accepted her award. Her hands shook as she prepared to speak into the mic and no one seemed to pay it any mind that the poet took a moment longer to get up to the stage as they loudly applauded.

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(Photo credit Philip Johnson Photography)

Although Krafft may be the 21-year-old creative force behind the most popular youth & all-ages poetry night in the Modesto area, she knows it’s a team effort. Graciously she pays all the credit forward to the performers, the volunteers and The Queen Bean event coordinator Kevin Williams, for letting her continue on. Poetry Night has always been a place where young people have the encouragement to express themselves through words and emotions and much like a wise mother hen, Krafft provides a warm home for them. She’s like an “old soul in a young body,” says her Queen Bean showrunner Kevin Williams. Krafft definitely is very grounded for someone of her age and brings a tremendous goal-orientated passion to running this monthly event. She’s been known to plan months ahead for performers, video promotion and guest hosts.

November 1st marks the celebratory 3 year anniversary of Poetry Night at The Queen Bean. Upon mention of it, Krafft says, “I can hardly believe it’s been this long. The success of this is such a huge honor and brings me a great deal of joy.” Aside from Open Mic Night and Comedy Night, the monthly Poetry Night is one of the longest standing events at The Queen Bean Coffee House. Much of the success with keeping the event alive is Krafft’s passion and dedication to hosting and welcoming newcomers with warm and open arms. 

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(Photo credit Philip Johnson Photography)

Earlier this year, after wrapping the first devised theater production at Center Stage Conservatory (CSC), “Collecting the Echoes”, a play that focuses on the interpersonal relationships in a group of people, Krafft got of taste of fundraising and playwriting with her peers. One of which is Melchor Sahagun III whom she is said to be working with on another project slated for the 2016-17 season. “I had this idea to work with Melchor,” says Krafft. “Like, I’m going to write something new and he’s going to write something that’s him and somehow it will come together. I can’t tell you more right now than that. He’s seriously one of my favorite people so it’s going to be a great experience no matter what comes of it.” 

Working with CSC is like coming home for Krafft. She adores and champions Traci Sprague as being instrumental in all that she does at CSC. “Traci is simply an amazing human being. She is an unspoken hero in our community”, she gushes about her mentor proudly. “I honestly don’t know where I’d be without being a part of CSC.” In addition to playwriting, Sprague encouraged Krafft to try her hat at acting in “Collecting the Echoes” and the experience was quite transformative. “Traci simply knows how to pull emotions out of me.” Krafft can’t seem to speak higher for the woman behind CSC and mentions her feature on Sprague for the ModestoView.

As we continue our conversation the warm air gets more temperate and less balmy, she manages to dig up a few projects from my resume and when learning of my passion for collecting music and words from musicians & artists, she surprises me by mentioning that she is in the planning stages to re-release her spoken word CD, Loveshespoke, originally released approximately 2 years ago and one of my personal favorites. It was well-received and garnered great support from her peers and the community. “It was something I thought about and the timing needed to be right,” she said. “Honestly it would be nice to add a couple tracks.”

Celebrating community is certainly one of Miss Krafft’s best strengths and causes, especially when it comes to the stage and performing. It’s hard to imagine juggling the duties of fundraising & directing for Center Stage Conservatory, hosting Poetry Night and freelance writing in addition to receiving an education and being devoted to her friends and family, but nonetheless these are the hats Summer Krafft wears. And she wears them well. She’s cultivated a creative niche in the community that is magical and pulls others together. There are a million fascinating reasons that women should support and be empowered by one another; Summer Krafft demonstrates those reasons through her devotion to the community.

 

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