On Saturday, poets of every stripe will take to the streets for Philadelphia Poetry Day.
Dozens of poets — and would-be poets — will position themselves on stages, on street corners, and in shopping malls to versify.
Amid all the rhyme, there is a reason — April is National Poetry Month. But even with programs planned throughout the region this month, Saturday’s will be a standout. At least 30 groups of poets representing more than 75 individuals will stage small, medium, and large poetry readings all over town. They will happen at the Italian Market, at the Maplewood Mall in Germantown, at a patio behind a Port Richmond bookstore, and dozens of other places.
The idea of poets self-organizing events on one day was hatched by Leonard Gontarek who envisioned a kind of coming-out party where people would announce publicly that they write poetry in their spare time.
Saturday’s events will be coordinated in large part by Lillian Dunn of the literary magazine Apiary. She says the rules are that each event be short, and feature two or more poets.
“Ultimately, why Philadelphia is such an amazing place for poetry is that the poetry community is so supportive and loving, and there are so many groups of poets who are also friends,” she said. “This was a way of celebrating that kind of uniquely Philadelphia poetry spirit.”
One of those groups is using Poetry Day as its official debut. The group of six, calling themselves The Poeticians, met as teachers and students of a poetry program at a North Philadelphia charter school.
Co-founder Sara Graybeal says the group offers its members encouragement and support.
“One of our students writes a poem about serving prison time, or having really difficult early family experiences, or any number of things, and there’s a group ready to take that experience and really talk about it, and listen to it, and affirm it,” she said.
The city’s new poet laureate, Frank Sherlock, will take part in Philadelphia Poetry Day by reading verse at a barbecue events called Poets and Wieners.