Archive for June 21, 2018

A Year Of Poetry (cross-posted)

DiVerse Logo 5In June, 2017, I hosted a poetry reading over at the now defunct Chesapeake Framing Crown location, followed by a second reading there in September. In January, 2018, the reading, under the name of DiVerse Gaithersburg (thank you Serena Agusto-Cox for the fabulous idea), moved over to the Gaithersburg Library and has been held monthly since then. The eight readings have included 28 featured poets, as well as everyone who has read at the open mic.

When I started the readings, I did so with the intention of making poetry more accessible in the Gaithersburg/NW Montgomery County area, as well as creating a community for poets. Both of those goals have been met in many ways and I’d like to share some of the highlights here:

  1. Attendees of the readings have told me that they have been inspired to read and/or write more poetry.
  2. Because of the reading, I was invited to moderate a poetry panel at the Gaithersburg Book Festival and hope to continue to be involved in poetry-related activities at GBF in future years.
  3. Several area cultural event organizers have asked for recommendations of poets to speak at their events and I’ve been delighted to suggest poets from our community.
  4. The Gaithersburg Poetry Workshop has been meeting monthly since November, providing an opportunity for local poets to get and offer feedback on work in progress.
  5. A brainstorming session at one of the readings led to the creation of a poetry in the community action list.
  6. Poets have met and connected over common interests at the reading, further creating a strong, supportive community for area poets.
  7. In conjunction with the readings, there is a booklist on the website with books by our featured poets. The Gaithersburg Barnes and Noble has used this list to add local poets to their collection. Shortly after they did this earlier this spring, we noticed that more than half of the books on their poetry display were by authors who were DiVerse Gaithersburg featured poets! The list will be updated later this summer to include poets who will be reading in the fall.
  8. Poet and blogger Serena Agusto-Cox has reviewed books by a number of the DiVerse poets on her blog, Savvy Verse & Wit.

We will resume readings in September, and I’ll have the full fall schedule posted in the next few weeks. DiVerse Gaithersburg has gotten off to a great start in its first year, and I am really looking forward to hosting our upcoming readings and watching our poetry community continue to blossom!

Many thanks to everyone who has helped to make this program a success!

(cross-posted from the DiVerse Gaithersburg Poetry Reading and Open Mic website with minor edits)

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Saying Goodbye To The Gaithersburg Teen Writing Club

After three and a half wonderful years as a co-mentor of the Gaithersburg Teen Writing Club, I have decided to move on to other projects.  As I told the kids at our last meeting, they may think that they learned a lot from me, but I probably learned more from them.  It truly has been a privilege to work with such dedicated young writers and to watch them learn and grow.  Aside from an uncountable number of writing prompts, we also took on introducing authors at the Gaithersburg Book Festival, entering some of their work in the three Emerging Voices anthologies that the Maryland Writers’ Association (sponsor of the program) published, chalk publishing, and much more, including a final group poem in which we each wrote a stanza (although please note that it was not possible to fully keep the original formatting when inserting it into this post):

This Is Why I Write

 

I write because I found a word

For wind

For breath

I found a word for green and growing things

And another word for battle smoke

I found a word

For stone

For water

For sunlight starlight moonlight

I write because I found a word for world

(stanza by Peggy Ruppel, club co-mentor)

 

I write because there are no walls

to stop my pen,

It’s my world of infinite freedom

where I can illustrate creations and fantasies

from my own mind,

and the stories can unfold

in an infinite number of ways.

(stanza by Marysol H.)

 

I write because of

All the special things in the WORLD

 

And when I write

I’m a magician

And I make magic

Out of all

 

The special things in the WORLD

(stanza by Comfort O.)

 

I write because

I believe my thoughts are

made magic through my words

because my hands can mold letters

my lips can’t.

because days I’m feeling low and

down, writing becomes

therapeutic; a microscope

to my mind that can be viewed

for a very limited time.

because I always sound like

myself on paper.

I write because

it is my fix.

(stanza by Josephine O.)

 

I write because I

see

taste

hear

smell

&

touch,

because I am

happy

sad

joyful

&

angry,

because I

think

&

feel,

& because

this is how I speak my truth.

(stanza by Lucinda Marshall, club co-mentor)

 

I write because I do

no explanations

no rules

no boundaries but mine

(stanza by Emma D.)

Many thanks to my co-mentor, Peggy Ruppel, who is also leaving the program.  We leave the club in the fine care of Henry Caballero, the new club mentor and meetings will resume in the fall.

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