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By: Marcela Saldivia-Berglund, Ph.D., Latino Services Librarian
For: Red Rock News
Date: April 2, 2010


April is National Poetry Month

Perhaps the first thing that comes to mind when we think of April is income tax! Fortunately, there are other, more pleasant, things to think about in April than taxes. Take a look outside -- spring is here!  Warmer sunny days, blue skies, and nature waking up from its long winter lethargy may inspire our senses to let out that little poet who lives inside all of us. Yes, it’s April, it’s spring, and also it’s National Poetry Month.

You may ask why there is a National Poetry Month. The idea arose from the popularity of Black History Month in February and of Women’s History Month in March. Inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets, the official proclamation for National Poetry Month was issued on April 1, 1996, by former President Bill Clinton, who declared: “National Poetry Month offers us a welcome opportunity to celebrate not only the unsurpassed body of literature produced by our poets in the past, but also the vitality and diversity of voices reflected in the works of today’s American poetry . . . Their creativity and wealth of language enrich our culture and inspire a new generation of Americans to learn the power of reading and writing at its best.”

National Poetry Month has since evolved into that special time of the year when publishers, booksellers, librarians, educators, book clubs, and thousands of businesses and non-profit organizations promote poetry through readings, festivals, workshops, book displays, and sales, and much more. Browsing the Internet, you can find web sites, such as www.poets.org, which is promoting this year’s Poetry Month nationwide. One of their original ideas is “Poem in Your Pocket Day,” a call for people to “join thousands of individuals across the U.S. by carrying a poem in your pocket on April 29, 2010.”

Sedona is also an important part of the national poetry lovers’ month. As a matter of fact, our beautiful city hosts a vibrant community of poets and poetry events that include poetry clubs for all ages, poetry slam competitions, and a constant stream of public readings and poetry performances around town, most of which are free.

In uptown Sedona, you can enjoy the First Fridays Poets Corner at Sedona Arts Center, a casual gathering of poets who share their works. The first Friday in April, the Poets Corner will be hosted by Christopher Lane (Executive Director of NORAZ Poets) and will feature the popular teenage poet program Young Voices Be Heard from 4 to 5pm. These young poets also meet every Saturday at 3pm in the Quiet Study Room at the Sedona Public Library. Everyone is welcome to attend and ages 13-19 are encouraged to participate.

The Sedona Writing Salon is another local poetry initiative. Hosted by author Gary Every, it takes place every first and third Thursday from 5 to 7pm at Java Love Café. This bimonthly gathering is an opportunity for writers to discuss and practice the arts and crafts of literature. Attendees read their works and offer constructive criticism to each other. Every Salon features a writing exercise, among other activities, and first-time authors have a great opportunity to receive considerate criticism and to exchange information and ideas about workshops with experienced poets while having fun and discussing their own works as well as favorite authors.

Sedona Performers Guild member Christopher Fox Graham founded Sedona Poetry Slam and is hosted quarterly at the guild's Studio Live. All poets are welcome to compete for the $100 grand prize. Fox Graham describes it as “a competitive artistic sport,” and he adds: “Poetry Slams are judged by five randomly chosen members of the audience who assign a numerical value to individual poet's content and performances. To compete in the slam, poets need at least three original poems, each three minutes long or shorter. No props, costumes, or musical accompaniment are permitted. All types of poetry, from sonnets to hip-hop, are welcome.” (Contact: foxthepoet@yahoo.com).

Moreover, Sedona poets Christopher Fox Graham and Jessica Laurel Reese host the Sedona Poetry Open Mic, which is held every second and fourth Thursday of the month, from 5 to 7pm at Java Love Café (free admission). Fox Graham explains that the Sedona Poetry Open Mic, now in its sixth year, “has offered a stage to more than 1,600 different poets’ voices, both locally and from across the world.”

At Sedona Public Library, the Latino Services Department is organizing a bilingual poetry event: Hispanic Women Poets Through Time, which will be held on Thursday, April 15 at 6 pm in the Si Birch Community Room. A panel of four readers will present a multimedia show that includes selected works by the remarkable Hispanic women authors Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, Delmira Agustini, Alfonsina Storni, and Gabriela Mistral. These readings in Spanish with English translations will be interspersed with pictures and video excerpts about the authors and music by the renowned folklorists Violeta Parra and Mercedes Sosa. This event is free and everyone is invited. Parental discretion is advised for adult content.

Sedona Public Library offers numerous books on contemporary poetry and local poets in addition to the classics and our patrons can rejoice in the pleasure of the poetic word any time they come to the Library.

Marcela Saldivia-Berglund
Marcela Saldivia-Berglund, Ph. D., author of this week's article,
is Latino Services Librarian of the Sedona Public Library.

Library News appears each Friday in the Red Rock News
and is also presented on: Gateway to Sedona and Sedona Biz.

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