One of the questions I’ve been asked the most since I got this gig is, “So what’s a laureate and what do they do?” Well, you could start with the Pythian Games of ancient Greece in the 6th century BC where the winners of creative arts contests were crowned with laurel in honor of Apollo, the god of a bunch of stuff like prophecy, plague and poetry. Fast forward to the coronation of Petrarch as poet in Rome in the early 1300’s “…which established the tradition of creating poets laureate in the renaissance and provided an influential precedent for later times.” as John Flood tells us in his book Poets Laureate of the Holy Roman Empire.
In the old days a laureate wrote poems for kings and rulers and their important events serving to boost their already inflated sense of importance. More than a millennium and a half later since Petrarch the role of a laureate has evolved. Nowadays the laureateship is about community. A laureate serves a term of a certain number of years and the job is to use poetry to bring people together for enlightening and fun community building and awareness raising projects.
During my term I chose to expand on the work I’ve been doing with Tribe and bring poetry where it can help those who are struggling and to members of the community that may not normally have experience with it. Poets are typically introspective people and have a tendency to stay in their comfortable circles with other poets. I want to turn the poetry circle inside out and get us all out of our comfort zones engaging with poetry and each other in new and interesting ways.
My term as laureate goes from April of 2017 to April of 2019. Below is a list with links of what I’ve been doing and what’s coming up.
Raising Voices Poetry Class – New Hampshire’s State Poet Laureate Alice Fogel and myself teamed up together for a poetry class at The International Institute of New England in Manchester working with refugees and immigrants to the US. More info
Poets In the Park, Women Reading Women series – Through the summer of 2017, each Thursday before the stage production of Mary Poppins in Prescott Park twenty one women poets (three a week for seven weeks) took the main stage to read the work of one of their female literary influences, or read something they wrote about that woman poet or writer. More info
Chase Home Poetry Class – Throughout the summer of 2017 I held a poetry class with some of the teen residents of the Chase Home for Children in Portsmouth who serve the communities at-risk youth. More info
Safe Harbor Recovery Center Poetry Class – Last summer 2017 I started along with artist Christos Vayenas a poetry and mediation class At Safe Harbor Recovery in Portsmouth which is ongoing first and third Saturday a month into 2018. More info.
Good Fat Poetry Zine – During November of 2017 I started a quarterly poetry zine called Good Fat meant to be a representation of our extensive poetry community in the seacoast and beyond. Volume 1 and 2 are out now! More info
Coming up: The Beat Festival – On April 14 2018 at 3S Artspace will be an event featuring eleven regional artists and speakers that include poets, a songwriter, a storyteller, a singer, a historian, an activist and a dancer to celebrate these arts and raise funds for the organizations I’ve been doing poetry classes with over the last year. Check out the poster made by Mike Teixeira for the event and the flyer for the event with more info on our list of presenters.
Coming up: Poets in the Park 2018 will be happening again at Prescott Park. More info coming soon!
Coming up: Turning the Poetry Circle Inside Out. More info later!