In 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:
- Attendees of the readings have told me that they have been inspired to read and/or write more poetry.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- A brainstorming session at one of the readings led to the creation of a poetry in the community action list.
- Poets have met and connected over common interests at the reading, further creating a strong, supportive community for area poets.
- 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.
- 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)
The Gaithersburg Book Festival takes place on May 19th and I am delighted to have the opportunity to be introducing a poetry panel which features poets Kateema Lee, Kurt Olsson, V.P. Loggins, and Erica Wright. The panel begins at 10:15 at the Rachel Carson Pavilion.
At 12:15, members of the Gaithersburg Teen Writing Club (which I co-mentor) will be introducing authors Winifred Conkling and Jessica Spotswood at the Ogden Nash Pavilion.
Also at 10:15, Kim Roberts, one of the featured poets at the upcoming June DiVerse Gaithersburg Poetry and Open Mic will also be talking about her new book at the H.L. Mencken Pavilion.
This is the third year that I have been a part of GBF and the fourth year that our teens have introduced authors. It is a wonderful opportunity to be a part of our very literature-centric community and a lot of fun. So check out the full schedule and come out and join us for a great day of books, authors, readers, and more!
The inaugural DiVerse Gaithersburg Poetry Reading and Open Mic in January was an enormous success! 35 people came to hear Luther Jett and Sunil Freeman (Kim Roberts was unfortunately not able to join us due to illness). Their wonderful readings were followed by 12 people who read at the Open Mic.
Many thanks to everyone who contributed to making the afternoon a success, especially the library staff and the folks who volunteered to help with set up, including members of the Gaithersburg Teen Writing Club. Thanks also to everyone who helped to promote the reading in so many ways and to Serena Agusto-Cox for broadcasting the reading on Facebook.
Please join us at 2 pm on February 11th at the Gaithersburg Library when our featured poets will be Alan King, Sarah Browning, and J. Howard.