Jeb Wallace-Brodeur / Staff Photo
PoemCity organizers Rachel Senechal, left, Sarah Adelman and Phayvanh Luekhaman, right, sort through some of the 300-plus poems on Friday that will be displayed at 98 venues in Montpelier for the month of April. See a partial schedule on page A3.
Montpelier offers itself up to the muses for the month of April when it transforms itself into PoemCity, the fourth annual celebration of all things verse that includes readings, slams, roundtables, workshops, songfests and an heroic window show that will fill the downtown with with the work of hundreds of Vermont poets.
“There are 300 poets in 98 locations,” said Rachel Senechal, program director at the Kellogg-Hubbard Library which co-sponsors the event with MontpelierAlive.
Readers can stop and and read, and then move on. “We had one person who walked through the streets and was so transformed by the poems they actually wrote a poem about it. The whole month really is magical.”
The deadline for submitting poems for the window show closed in February. The poems were then read by a group of diligent volunteer readers who plowed through more than 500 manuscripts according to Senechal. Each poet may submit up to three pieces, and is guaranteed that at least one will be posted. The installation is ephemeral and lasts only for the month although there has been some thought given over to perhaps publishing an anthology.
“We really see this as an event to bring people downtown,” said Phayvanh Luekhamhan, director of the city’s homegrown booster and events organization.
A list of Vermont writers contributing to the month long celebration features luminaries like former poet laureate Ellen Voigt, who will kick off the celebration at a Monday evening reading at the Statehouse. Then there are local favorites like Diane Swan, Cora Brooks, Verandah Porche and Charles Barasch. The fourth-graders at Union Elementary School will take over the children’s room and Bear Pond Books, and other Montpelier students will fill the windows of the Rite Aid with poems about the city itself. Geoff Hewitt, who became the state slam champion in 2004, and has yet to relinquish his crown, will host a poetry slam at the library, and as with each year, there will be a celebration of Robert Frost.
“This is a good occasion to celebrate Frost,” said Peter Gilbert, director of the Vermont Humanities Council, and executor of the late poet’s estate. “It is the 50th anniversary of his death. He certainly does have a special place in Vermont and is probably considered the consummate Yankee. One of his early books was entitled “North of Boston,” he had come upon a sign that said “real estate for sale land north of Boston.” He felt that saying really said something to him.”
Bear Pond Books, which will host a series of four readings throughout the month including the 16th annual Open Poetry Reading that will close out the festivities on April 30th. Poets get five minutes and must sign up in advance, The sign up sheet goes up on Monday.
“It won’t fill up on the first day, but if fills up fast,” said Claire Benedict one of the Bear Pond owners.
New this year is a collaboration with students at the Summit School of Traditional Music. Students and teachers from the school will turn the submitted poems of lucky poets into songs and perform them at the Kellogg-Hubbard Library.
“This is a first this year,” said Senechal. “I can’t wait to hear the songs. I really think there is something about Vermont that inspires so many and that is what this is really about, finding the poet in each of us.”
Here is a partial list of events for the month. For more details, go to www.montpelieralive.org/poemcity.
4/1: PoemCity Kickoff with Ellen Bryan Voigt. House chambers, Statehouse, 7 p.m.
4/3: Recognizing Vermont’s Built Treasures, Middlebury College Professor Glenn Andres considers what makes Vermont’s historic buildings so significant. Kellogg Hubbard Library, 7 p.m.
4/5: Poetry Slam with Geof Hewitt, Vermont’s slam master in all-ages poetry slam. Come prepared to perform three poems up to three minutes in length. Kellogg Hubbard Library, 7 p.m.
4/6: Poetry and Collage Playshop. Young poets and poets young at heart create a unique blend of words, colors, textures. Kellogg-Hubbard Library, Children’s Library, 1 p.m.
4/10: Community Cinema Film Series: The Island President. Followed by panel discussion Kellogg Hubbard Library, 7 p.m.
4/11: Poetry Reading with UVM Professor Tony Magistrale. Kellogg Hubbard Library, 7 p.m.
4/12: Brown Bag Lunch. Share your favorite poems in a small group setting with other local poets. Come meet other poetry lovers during lunch hour. Kellogg Hubbard Library, noon.
4/16, 4/23, 4/30: Inner Disarmament: Acceptance, Forgiveness and Awakening in Challenging Times, Tuesday series with Amy Miller. Series helps us reflect on our own inner challenges while offering practical antidotes of mindfulness and meditation. Kellogg Hubbard Library, 6 to 8 p.m.
4/17: Poetry Reading with Steven Cramer. Questions 223-3338 or 223-9604 visit the PoemCity Facebook page. Kellogg Hubbard Library, 7 p.m.
4/20: Summit Songs: Join the Summit School at the Kellogg-Hubbard Library for a showcase of poems set to music. Submit your poems to email@example.com. Kellogg Hubbard Library, 11 a.m.
4/20: Poetry Therapy Workshop with Mary Rose Dougherty. Join poet and teacher Mary Rose for a poetry therapy workshop. Participants will explore how poetry can help us to realign ourselves when we are thrown by life. Kellogg Hubbard Library, 3 p.m.
4/22: Writing Nature Poetry with Andrew Hepburn: Workshop and Readings. Limited to 30 participants, sign up at the Kellogg-Hubbard Library. Open to all ages, families are encouraged to attend. Pre-registration required at the Kellogg-Hubbard Library circulation desk. Please bring writing supplies with you. Kellogg Hubbard Library, 3 p.m.
4/25: Musica Borealis: Music of the North. Anthony Barrand “Dark Ships in the Northern Woods: Ballads and Stories of the Supernatural” Kellogg Hubbard Library, 7 to 8:30 p.m.
4/27: Three Chaps Reading. A reading featuring Benjamin Aleshire, Ralph Culver and Nicholas Spengler. Questions? firstname.lastname@example.org or call 802-223-3338 or 802-223-9604. Kellogg Hubbard Library, Hayes Room 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.
4/27: Chapbook Publishing Round Table. The panel will be moderated by Julia Shipley, poet and co- founder of the Montpelier based, Chickadee Chaps & Broads. Kellogg Hubbard Library, 2 p.m.
4/29: Reading with Kate Fetherston from her latest book of poems, Until Nothing More Can Break (Antrim House). Kellogg Hubbard Library, 7 p.m.
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