Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Garden of Poetry: Flourishing in Plymouth

          I'll be one of the readers at the Poetry Showcase for the Plymouth Guild's Annual Juried Art Show this weekend along with Elizabeth Hansen, Philip Hasouris, Moira Linehan, Mary Pinard and Richard Wiley. The reading takes place at the Plymouth Center for the Arts, 11 North St. in Plymouth Center, on Sunday, Sept. 27, at 1 p.m. 

          Six poets sounds like a lot of words at one gulp, but the readers are carefully timed, so the program doesn't go on too long.
          According to Jack Scully, who shepherds the event, the tradition of a Poetry Showcase reading in conjunction with the annual juried art show goes back 10 years when the late Plymouth poet Mike Amado sponsored and hosted the first Poetry Showcase on Sept. 23, 2006. The Plymouth Guild for the Arts' Marsha Hanby reached out to Amado, a poet and a musician, who had been participating in and finding homes for open mike readings and performances at various venues in Plymouth Center. Hanby's goal was to partner with other local groups and provide entertainment during the first two week-ends of the annual show. Amado offered to put together a poetry reading. 
           The first Poetry Showcase was held under a tent at the Old Training Green in downtown Plymouth, where the art Guild was exhibiting work that year. It featured a number of poets who will be back this year for Sunday's 10th anniversary show, including Hasouris, Wiley and Hanson.  
          Elizabeth Hansen has been published in Boston's Bagel Bards journal and by the Ibbetson Street Press. Philip Hasouris is the host of the Brockton Library Poetry Series. Moira Linehan, a former English teacher and school administrator, has published two volumes of poetry. Mary Pinard, who recently published her first collection of poetry, has also published essays on poets Lorine Niedecker and Alice Oswald. Rich Wiley, who took part in that first event, has long been prominent in the Plymouth poetry circuit. 
          Two years after the first event, the Plymouth Showcase moved indoors, along with the art show, and its organizers began a new monthly poetry reading series that's been running since 2008 at the Plymouth Center for the Arts.    
           However, as Scully states in a press release for this year's Poetry Showcase, the year 2008 marked both "the beginning and ending of an era. On Sunday April 6, 2008, POETRY:The Art of Words debuted, bringing a monthly poetry venue to Plymouth, and ten months later Mike Amado succumbed to end stage kidney disease and passed to the other side on January 2, 2009." 
          A few years later a further collaboration by local poets and the Plymouth Guild was launched. Called "Visual Inverse," the project invites poets to write in response to selected pieces of visual art. Altogether, the three Plymouth-based programs, Poetry the Art of Words, Poetry Showcase, and Visual Inverse, bring more than a dozen poetry events to Plymouth Center each year. "Almost every month of the year," Scully writes, "poetry is spoken here. That was much of what Mike Amado envisioned when he first assembled word artists under the tent on the Old Training Green back in 2006."
           The arts center is located in the former Plymouth town library on North Street. We used to take our daughter there to the children's library years ago when we first moved to Plymouth, so it's fun (and a bit nostalgic) for me to be going back there to read.