During the Pythian Games of ancient Greece in the 6th century BC, 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 laureate in Rome in the early 1300’s, as John Flood tells us in his book Poets Laureate of the Holy Roman Empire, this “…established the tradition of creating poets laureate in the Renaissance and provided an influential precedent for later times.”
In the old days, a laureate wrote poems for kings and dignitaries and their events serving to boost their already inflated sense of importance. More than a millennium and a half later since Petrarch, as the role of rulers diminishes and governments continue to evolve to be more about the people, so has the role of the laureate 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 struggle to have their voices heard and to members of the community that may not normally have experience with poetry. 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 with the Portsmouth Poet Laureate Program went from April of 2017 to April of 2019. Below is a list projects completed over the two years.
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 and now continuing this spring of 2018 I’m doing 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
Writing for Recovery Poetry Class – Since last summer 2017, I’ve been doing a poetry class At Safe Harbor Recovery Center in Portsmouth which is ongoing every first and third Saturday of the month. 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, 2 and 3 are out now! More info
The Beat Festival – On April 14, 2018, at 3S Artspace, we had an event featuring nine regional artists and speakers that include poets, a songwriter, a storyteller, a singer, a historian, an activist, and a dancer. I wanted to celebrate these amazing artists and raise funds for the organizations I’ve been doing poetry classes with over the last year. All backed by the masters of improvisational music Larry Simon and the Beat Night band. 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. And here’s a link to the thank you post with fundraiser results and pictures.
Poets in the Park 2018: Another awesome summer with Poets in the Park in support of Seacoast Outright and our LGBTQ community. Click here for more.
Lunation: A Good Fat Anthology of 114 Women Poets: The book is done and the release event at South Church on International Women’s Day was amazing. Click here for more.