The DiVerse Gaithersburg Poetry Reading and Open Mic has 3 fabulous readings scheduled this fall. All readings are hosted by Lucinda Marshall and take place upstairs at the Gaithersburg Library, 2-4 pm.
In June, 2017, I hosted our first poetry reading over at the now defunct Chesapeake Framing Crown location, followed by a second reading there in September. In January, 2018, the reading, under the name of DiVerse Gaithersburg (thank you Serena Agusto-Cox for the fabulous idea), moved over to the Gaithersburg Library and has been held monthly since then. The eight readings have included 28 featured poets, as well as everyone who has read at the open mic.
When I started the readings, I did so with the intention of making poetry more accessible in the Gaithersburg/NW Montgomery County area, as well as creating a community for poets. Both of those goals have been met in many ways and I’d like to share some of the highlights here:
Attendees of the readings have told me that they have been inspired to read and/or write more poetry.
Because of the reading, I was invited to moderate a poetry panel at the Gaithersburg Book Festival and hope to continue to be involved in poetry-related activities at GBF in future years.
Several area cultural event organizers have asked for recommendations of poets to speak at their events and I’ve been delighted to suggest poets from our community.
The Gaithersburg Poetry Workshop has been meeting monthly since November, providing an opportunity for local poets to get and offer feedback on work in progress.
Poets have met and connected over common interests at the reading, further creating a strong, supportive community for area poets.
In conjunction with the readings, there is a booklist on the website with books by our featured poets. The Gaithersburg Barnes and Noble has used this list to add local poets to their collection. Shortly after they did this earlier this spring, we noticed that more than half of the books on their poetry display were by authors who were DiVerse Gaithersburg featured poets! The list will be updated later this summer to include poets who will be reading in the fall.
We will resume readings in September, and I’ll have the full fall schedule posted in the next few weeks. DiVerse Gaithersburg has gotten off to a great start in its first year, and I am really looking forward to hosting our upcoming readings and watching our poetry community continue to blossom!
With grateful thanks to everyone who has helped to make this program a success,
Thanks to all who came out for our last reading of the spring, we so enjoyed hearing Kim Roberts, Eve Burton, and Clarence Williams share their poetry. I am getting ready to post a longer piece about this, but as I mentioned at the reading, many good things have happened in the last year as a result of this reading series including the opportunity for poets to network and connect professionally.
Last night I attended one of Eve Burton’s poetry workshops at the Quince Orchard Library and was thrilled when one of the poems that she used as an example for the exercise we were doing was a poem that Kim Roberts read at the reading! If you’re looking for a poetry workshop in the Gaithersburg area, check it out, the next one is July 12th at the Quince Orchard Library, 7 pm. The assignment for the workshop is to write a list poem, so give it a try and bring a poem to share! Eve also leads workshops for teens and children, you can find the information on the QO Library site.
Please join us on June 10th for our final reading of the spring with featured poets Kim Roberts, Camisha Jones, Clarence Williams, and Eve Burton, upstairs at the Gaithersburg Library, 2-4 pm. The reading is hosted by Lucinda Marshall and will be followed by an Open Mic. Kim Roberts is the author of five books of poems, most recently The Scientific Method (WordTech Editions, 2017). Her book of walking tours, A Literary Guide to Washington, DC: Walking in the Footsteps of American Authors from Francis Scott Key to Zora Neale Hurston was recently published by the University of Virginia Press. Roberts is the recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Humanities DC, and the DC Commission on the Arts, and most recently the recipient of a Rose Library Research Fellowship from Emory University, She has been a writer-in-residence at 17 art colonies and retreats. Individual poems of hers have been published in Barrow Street, New Letters, Ohio Review, Southwest Review, Verse Daily, Virginia Quarterly Review, and the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day project; and the title poem from her latest book was featured at last year’s National March for Science as part of the Wick Poetry Center’s Science Stanzas Project. She is the founding editor of Beltway Poetry Quarterly.
Clarence Williams is a U.S. veteran who began writing poetry during his 20 years of service in the US Navy. He also possesses a broad range of expertise having spent many years as a program manager of logistics, engineering, and IT development projects, as well as an instructor and course developer, and he also won the Government Computer News 2006 Gala Award for Technology Innovations in Government Information Technology.
He began attending the DiVerse Gaithersburg Poetry Reading and Open Mic program in 2018, and it has inspired him to continue writing and sharing his work during open mic.
In 2001, Eve Burton started a Storytelling Club for young children at the Twinbrook Community Library. The next year she added a Poetry Club for young children, and she’s been engaged in Poetry Creation Activities ever since. She now leads a Poetry Club for young children as well as Adult and Teen Poetry Writing Groups at Quince Orchard Library and hosts a group of adult women who gather in her home to write poetry and eat dessert twice each month. Eve still tells stories, both on her own and with the Twinbrook Tellers of the Dogwood Dogs 4H Club, which she leads. Her poetry often reflects her fondness for a good tale. Recently Lucinda Marshall invited Eve to join the Diverse Poetry workshopping group and to read her poems at the June reading.
Camisha L. Jones is the author of the poetry chapbook Flare(Finishing Line Press, 2017) and a recipient of a 2017 Spoken Word Immersion Fellowship from The Loft Literary Center. Through both, she breaks silence around issues of invisible disability as someone living with hearing loss and chronic pain. Her poems can be found at Button Poetry, The Deaf Poets Society, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Typo, Rogue Agent, pluck!, Unfolding the Soul of Black Deaf Expressions, and The Quarry, Split This Rock’s social justice poetry database. She is also published in Let’s Get Real: What People of Color Can’t Say and Whites Won’t Ask about Racism, Class Lives: Stories from Across Our Economic Divide, and The Day Tajon Got Shot. A fellow of The Watering Hole, Camisha is Managing Director at Split This Rock, a national non-profit in DC that cultivates, teaches, and celebrates poetry that bears witness to injustice and provokes social change. Find her on Facebook as Poet Camisha Jones, on Twitter and Instagram as 1Camisha, and online at her blog.
Many thanks to Serena Agusto-Cox for reviewing several books by poets who have read at the DiVerse Gaithersburg readings on her most excellent website, Savvy Verse & Wit. She recently reviewed Alan King’s Point Blank and Marlena Chertock’s On That One-Way Trip To Mars and Crumb-Sized and rumor has it she may be reviewing a few more in the near future!
Here is an excerpt from her review of Crumb-Sized:
Crumb-Sized: Poems by Marlena Chertock, who read at the Fourth DiVerse Gaithersburg Poetry Reading, is a short and powerful collection about body image, space, and pain, but it is also a collection of exploration. She explores the strength within herself to do more and cope with more, to “push” through the pain in physical therapy, and to stand tall among those in the forest who are “healthier.”
Obviously, not only should you read these poetry books, you should also go check out Serena’s site and read her reviews. A gifted writer herself, Serena was one of the featured poets at the first reading at Chesapeake Framing last summer and can often be found sitting in the front row of our readings taking photos and shooting Facebook Live video. Literary citizenship at its finest, we are so lucky to have Serena as part of our poetry community!