A Routine Gathering of Poets
by Cathryn Shea
Around fifteen years ago while bed-ridden with a sudden illness, I had an epiphany that reawaked my desire to become more serious about being a poet. In addition to writing furiously as words came flooding to the page, I decided to find out about any local classes or places devoted to poetry. I’m a bit fuzzy on how this actually occurred. I was working in the computer industry and I recall searching online… even though the Internet was not as robust then by far. I’m pretty sure that is how I began though. I found Marin Poetry Center (http://www.marinpoetrycenter.org). Back in the day, the website was low-tech and served up scant information. However, once I joined and started attending events regularly, I connected with other poets. Within a year I succumbed to pleas to volunteer. I was wooed to become editor for the annual anthology. My head swelled a bit. The reason I was a likely candidate had to do with my technical publications experience. They needed a workhorse and reliable person to get the job done. I figured it would be great to have an insight into the poetry of regular people, their work and educational backgrounds, and how they submitted to a journal. I was correct on this. My tenure lasted five years during which I felt like I had a backroom view of the writing, editing, selection, and of course rejection process. I think that no matter how you choose to participate in a local poetry center (if you are lucky enough to have one) you can’t go wrong. You can just join and go to readings, or step up and volunteer for a variety of tasks. This will lead you to other poets who will want to invite you to read with them and eventually to join informal peer groups. You will be part of the hive.
If you live in an area where no poetry center exists, which is sort of like living in a place that doesn’t have fresh produce, then you might consider starting a center at a local café or gas station. A hip gas station would be apropos. Better yet, a library or historic old house. I’m aware that America is a big place with many barren spots in between its coasts. The rural areas pose a challenge for forming poetry centers. However, churches seem to do it. If churches can sprout up in the middle of nowhere, then perhaps poetry gatherings can too.
About The Author
Cathryn Shea is the author of four chapbooks, including “Backpack Full of Leaves” (Cyberwit, 2019), “Secrets Hidden in a Pear Tree” (dancing girl press, 2019), and “It’s Raining Lullabies” (dancing girl press, 2017). Her first full-length poetry book, “Genealogy Lesson for the Laity,” is forthcoming from Unsolicited Press in September 2020. Cathryn’s poetry has been nominated for Sundress Publication’s Best of the Net and appears in Typehouse, Tar River Poetry, Gargoyle, Permafrost, Rust + Moth, Tinderbox, and elsewhere. Cathryn is a fourth-generation northern Californian and lives with her husband in Fairfax, CA. She served as editor for Marin Poetry Center Anthology. See www.cathrynshea.com and @cathy_shea on Twitter.
Friday, July 5, Bolinas Community Center (West Marin, California)
Summer Traveling Show for Marin Poetry Center (Marin Country, date and venue TBD)
October 2019 (specifics TBD) – Hudson Valley, NY (reading with poet Mare Leonard)