Thursday, March 20, 2014

Roses are red, violets are blue; when you think of poetry, think Kalamazoo

by Zinta Aistars
Published in Southwest Michigan's Second Wave Media
March 20, 2014

Marsha Meyer and George Martin (Photo: Erik Holladay)

A lot of poetry is being created in the Kalamazoo area. The Kalamazoo Poetry Festival was created to make sure everyone knows about it. Zinta Aistars talks with the organizers about the area's first festival for poets, poetry lovers, and the poetically curious.

Think poetry and thoughts may wander to big cities, the east or the west coast. Think poetry, and the first image that comes to some minds are thick, dusty tomes filled with dense, difficult-to-understand language. Think poetry and the poets that appear in imaginations are solitary individuals bent over their paper littered desks in ivory towers. 

The Kalamazoo Poetry Festival, April 4 to April 5 with events throughout Kalamazoo, is about to dispel such notions. The festival coincides with National Poetry Month, so Kalamazoo Poetry Festival is encouraging regional groups to schedule their own celebrations of poetry, ranging from writing workshops for youth to readings and performances.

"Poetry is flourishing in Kalamazoo more than most of us realize," says George Martin, one of the founders of the new festival. His hope is that the festival will become an annual or bi-annual event. "Our idea was to recognize and celebrate poets in Kalamazoo, and to let people know what a thriving community of writers we have here."

While some of Kalamazoo’s poets have earned regional and national attention, garnering awards, others are not yet as well known, Martin says. Literary organizations bustle each in their own niche, he says, but may not realize what others are doing to create and promote poetry. 

"We want to celebrate the power of poetry to connect people," says Marsha Meyer, program director at Portage District Library and steering committee member of the Kalamazoo Poetry Festival. "We want this festival to create partnerships and raise awareness. We want to open poetry up to the wider community. In that sense, it’s much more than a two-day event. Our hope is to spark more poetry events throughout the year."

Throughout the weekend, the Festival will offer readings, craft talks, and workshops featuring some of the region’s most celebrated writers, including Traci Brimhall, Danna Ephland, Diane Seuss, John Rybicki, Bonnie Jo Campbell, Susan Ramsey and Denise Miller. Joining the local pool of talent are nationally acclaimed poets Aracelis Girmay and Ilya Kaminsky.

"We chose Aracelis Girmay and Ilya Kaminsky because ... "


Adding to the fun, I have been invited to be the moderator on a panel with Aracelis Girmay and Ilya Kaminsky. Join us if  you are in the area, toss me your questions to ask these two remarkable poets: 

Craft Talk and Q&A with Aracelis Girmay and Ilya Kaminsky
Olmsted Room, Kalamazoo College
Saturday, April 5, 2014
2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

No comments:

Post a Comment