Fayetteville will be officially celebrating National Poetry Month for the first time this April with poetry events for all ages, thanks to a joint effort from the Fayetteville Public Library, KUAF, and local poet Houston Hughes. Over 15 poetry-related activities such as performances, film screenings, and writing workshops are planned over the course of the just 30 days. Special performances will include the FPL Author Series: An Evening with Maya Angelou and later in the month a performance by two time World Poetry Slam champion Buddy Wakefield.
National Poetry Month carries deep Arkansas roots, having been first officially proclaimed by then-President Bill Clinton in 1996. While Fayetteville has hosted poetry related events in celebration before, this will be the first time there has been a concerted effort to celebrate the entire month.
The co-ordination began with Hughes, who took up the reins when he found out there was no celebration officially planned: “I asked the Mayor’s office if the city was doing anything, and their response was, ‘we would love to, but we don’t have the manpower to coordinate anything.’ But they gave me the resources and said the folks in the library might be interested, so I decided to just run with it, ” he said.
Hughes is no stranger to running poetry events; in addition to the monthly Last Saturday variety show and poetry slam at the Fayetteville Underground, he also hosts monthly events in Springdale and Eureka Springs.
The library will play host to most of the month’s events, starting with a parade to the square on April 3rd for First Thursday. The public are encouraged to dress as characters from their favorite poem or rhyme (or their favorite poet) and parade from the library to the Fayetteville Square, where a Mayoral Proclamation will be presented. The proclamation will be followed by a special children’s performance “Blues Funs” presented by the Ozark Blues Society, and readings from select local poets.
The rest of the month will be packed with activities, including a performance by two time World Poetry Slam champion Buddy Wakefield, free poetry writing and performance workshops for young children, teens, and adults, and a screening of the poetry related documentaries including the award-winning film Louder than a Bomb. Additionally, a number of monthly poetry events around the city will be having special activities, such as a lyric writing panel discussing with Candy Lee and other local musicians, Ozark Poets and Writers Collective hosting a reading from Fayetteville High School’s Connotations, and the Burning Chair Poetry Reading Series hosting a release of new collections from two local authors. The capstone for the official celebration will be Last Saturday, which will have a number of special guests and double its monthly poetry slam prize to $100 for whoever performs the two best poems, as judged by the audience.
A media sponsor of Poetry Month Fayetteville, KUAF will be running a creative campaign to spread the word about events around town. March 3rd-9th, anyone may submit their 17-syllable haikus to firstname.lastname@example.org. Works can also be dropped off at the library Circulation Desk. Those with the best haiku, as chosen by a special panel of judges, will be invited to the KUAF studios to record their mini masterpieces, which will then play on air throughout April.
For a full schedule of National Poetry Month events, or to find out more about the celebration, see www.faylib.com/poetrymonthfayetteville or find “Poetry Month Fayetteville” on facebook.