(LONG BRANCH, NJ) -— In case you didn't know, April is National Poetry Month — a month, as established by the Academy of American Poets, that's perfect for "acknowledging and celebrating poetry's ability to sustain itself in the many places where it is practiced and appreciated." These days, that could mean a cell phone on a subway, every bit as much as an oh-so-civilized literary salon.
"Every month is poetry month, or not, goes the argument, and poetry is not a dessert topping or a line of athletic shoes," wrote distinguished former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky. "On the other hand, why not celebrate poetry more than usual, at some time of year or the other?"
Pinsky, of course, is a born-and-bred native son of Long Branch — just one of the more famous novelists, journalists, songwriters, Oscar/Grammy/Pulitzer winners, wits and wordsmiths that have spent some time, gathering inspiration and putting pen to paper, in and around our seaside city. On the afternoon of Saturday, April 9, the Long Branch Free Public Library at 328 Broadway salutes the contemporary poets of New Jersey, for the latest celebration of new poetic voices known as iPoet.
Sponsored by the Long Branch Arts Council, the Long Branch Free Public Library and the Long Branch Historical Association (and supported by Investors Savings Bank Charitable Foundation, Monmouth County Arts Council and the City of Long Branch), the event known as iPoet represents the next generation of a medium that's powered not by the latest in personal tech gadgetry, but by the power of words. It's a series that spotlights the words of area students — many of them sharing their poetry for the first time in public — alongside published professionals, veteran amateurs, notable "guest readers" and anyone who wishes to participate; at a friendly forum in which no one is graded by professors, criticized by workshop groups or hooted down by hecklers.
Scheduled from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. inside the library's Community Room, the April 9 event (presented around the theme of "Living New Jersey Poets") offers up a chance to hear a collection of guest speakers — including local historian Sharon Hazard, graphic designer Michael Clemens and dedicated poetry lovers from New Jersey Repertory Company, the Free Public Library and the Historical Association — read from a selection of verse by contemporary writers whose work took root in the Garden State. At the heart of the event is a chance to see and hear the work of some talented and creative young writers, from area grade schools and colleges.
The organizers of iPoet are also excited to welcome back Rock Wilk as host for the event on April 9. The Brooklyn-based singer/ writer/ producer/ performance poet — an intensely original artist whose spoken works have gathered acclaim at venues from the Nuyorican Poets Café to Asbury Park's Showroom — has recently undertaken the first national tour of his autobiographical one man show, "Broke Wide Open." Find out more about Wilk at his website, www.wilkmusic.com.
Admission to iPoet is free of charge, with participants invited to bring family and friends, and enjoy complimentary refreshments while meeting fellow poets and enthusiasts during a post-event reception.
There's still time for young poets from grades 6 through college level to get on board. To obtain a sign-up form or find out more about iPoet, contact Kate Angelo, director of Outreach and Adult Programming at Long Branch Free Public Library, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Long Branch Arts Council is a partnership dedicated to working with the city government, civic and business organizations and the arts community to re-establish the City of Long Branch as a thriving regional center for the arts. Our aim is to accomplish this goal by attracting artists and arts organizations, by coordinating fundraising and development efforts, by establishing arts education programs, and by presenting arts-oriented events that draw upon the natural resources, accessibility, historic assets and "people power" that are unique to our beloved city.