Poetry Around the Clock

By on 12 April, 2018 in Kate and Stephen with 1 Comment

Brandie Johnson, the manager at Court Street’s Read Herring Books (formerly New South Books), has big ambitions for National Poetry Month. She’s planning for 24 consecutive hours of poetry at four venues across Midtown Montgomery starting April 19. The event will commence at Read Herring, move to Product of Montgomery on Madison for the Thursday night portion, go back to Read Herring for the overnight stint, then start the morning with poetically strong coffee at Prevail Union Friday morning, go to EAT South for the afternoon, and finish strong back at the bookstore. Johnson wants to do something to celebrate this monthlong celebration from the Academy of American Poets. With 96 15 minute slots open for signing up, this might be the city’s most ambitious poetry event.

The next day is the Alabama Book Festival over at Old Alabama Town, so lovers of literature will have ample opportunities to slake their thirst for verse over the Earth Day weekend.

The marathon reading has required Johnson to reach out to high school and college instructors with the hopes of filling out the roster of readers. She’s encouraging participants to share their own work or the work of someone that inspires them. Readers can sign up for one or several 15 minute segments, and they’re also welcome to read artfully written prose, if poetry’s not exactly their thing.

“I think that poetry isn’t one specific thing,” said Johnson, “It’s not boxed into a set of rules. That’s the whole point of poetry, to come at something from a different direction to affect some kind of emotional reaction in you.”

Johnson expects people from all walks of life to participate in the readings. Interested folks can sign up with her (brandie@readherringbooks.com, or by calling the store: 334-834-3552). For those more interested in being on the scene than actually reading, there will be audience mixer activities throughout, with prompts given out for folks who need some artistic inspiration.

Bookstore display

The kick-off event will be held at Read Herring Thursday, April 19 from 5 p.m. until 5:30. The poetry caravan will then continue around downtown Montgomery throughout the next 24 hours. Alabama State Poet Laureate Jennifer Horne will join the group at Read Herring at 5 p.m. on Friday, April 20 to wrap up the event.

If you simply can’t get enough poetry in this month devoted to the ancient art form, the Jubilee Community Center (also known as The Sanctuary, 432 S. Goldthwaite Street) will be sponsoring a poetry slam on April 28 from 1-4. Poets will compete against each other in head to head bouts with expert judges and plenty of audience input. All ages are welcome, and the event is set to dovetail with the Cottage Hill Art Walk held later that evening. Whether you’re into Rumi or Kanye West, participating poets must be ready to offer initial poems no longer than 3 minutes, with two rounds to follow.

For a city with a high school whose mascot is the Poets, we’re sometimes less focused on the power of verse than perhaps we should be. These events, plus the many poets who will be showcasing their work at the Book Festival, aim to change that.

 

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  1. Josh Yates says:

    Wonderful event for the Montgomery area.

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