The day after MarShawn McCarrel committed suicide, friends of the poet/musician/activist gathered at Wild Goose Creative for the Writing Wrongs poetry open mic to revel in the healing power of words.

The day after MarShawn McCarrel committed suicide, friends of the poet/musician/activist gathered at Wild Goose Creative for the Writing Wrongs poetry open mic to revel in the healing power of words.

Throughout the evening, readings dwelled on the infinite nature of existence - "I resurrect, oh heaven," went a line from a Rachel McKibbons' poem read to open events - rather than centering on the finality of death. Indeed, a bulk of the nearly three-hour event carried on as usual, with a dozen or so budding and established poets taking turns sharing works that touched on everything from the challenges of living a mixed-race existence to reproductive rights to the deep scars mining and industry can leave on the earth.

Several spoke more explicitly about McCarrel, who was a regular presence at Writing Wrongs, depicting him as a quiet force who "had presence without having to fill the room with his voice" and sharing tales of his activist leanings, which stretched from initiatives designed to aid the homeless to his more recent work with the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement. One of McCarrel's former teachers spoke passionately about the love that motivated him - "Not a romantic love, but a love for one another," as she explained it.

Another friend read a work by poet Roger Bonair-Agard, which included lines like, "I live in an age of martyrs; of bodies declaring themselves to heaven," but appeared to center on the idea that words and ideas can carry the spirit forward even after the body gives out. "None of these ways will claim me," Bonair-Agard wrote. "My song has always been heard."

So while many who discussed McCarrel noted his time on Earth was cut criminally short - "I know there was so much he had left to do," said one friend - virtually everyone expressed the need to carry on his good works. McCarrel's former teacher, for one, spoke of the oft-repeated phrase declaring the young man "rest in power" before offering a slight edit. "He needs to rest in peace," she said. "And we need to live in power."

It's this spirit the evening's hosts embraced in the closing remarks, which were less about dealing with the immediate grief than making sure McCarrel's mission didn't die along with him. "We're going to see the difference in our community unless we step forward," one gentleman said. "It's our job to pick up the slack."