ELLENSBURG—April is National Poetry Month, and Inland Poetry, a new local group of literary folk, is about to debut with a day-long, free-wheeling, moveable poetry feast called “Baudelaire’s Birthday Bash” in downtown Ellensburg.
The official excuse for the so-called “poetry prowl” on Saturday, April 9, is the birthday of the French poet Charles Baudelaire, born April 9, 1821, and credited with coining the term modernité (modernity). He also authored Les Fleurs du Mal (The Flowers of Evil), a notable collection of poetry.
But the more obvious reason for the prowl, which is free, is to introduce a literary component to the city’s smorgasbord of cultural offerings. The event is described on the Inland Poetry website (inlandpoetry.com) as follows:
“A poetry prowl, although highly organized, gives the appearance of being an organic, spontaneous, no-holds-barred literary event. In other words, we will not be sitting in an auditorium in tight rows, looking at the back of other people’s heads, and stifling yawns. Instead, we will be wandering in and out of various venues, sitting on apple crates or straw bales, clapping, whistling, groaning, slapping our knees, sloshing beer, and generally showing unbridled enthusiasm for our fellow poets….”
The venues are located within easy walking distance in the heart of historic downtown Ellensburg and include Gallery One, Troutwater, Clymer Museum of Art, 420 Building, Gard Vintners, Dick and Jane’s Spot, Bailey’s Bibliomania, Grapes and Crepes, BRIX Elevage Wine Co., and Iron Horse Brewery.
Beginning at noon in the Rotary Pavilion with a public reading of several Baudelaire poems, and running through the evening, these locations will offer readings, including open mic opportunities for the public, and feature several acclaimed Northwest poets, among them Tod Marshal, newly appointed Washington State Poet Laureate; Laura Read, City of Spokane Poet Laureate; and Christopher Luna, Clark County Poet Laureate.
Other readers from Ellensburg, Bellingham, Seattle, Spokane, Vancouver, and Yakima will be featured, and Ellensburg High School senior Jake Andrews will reprise his performance as 2016 Washington State Poetry Out Loud Champion. There will be a book fair and craft talks. Published poets interested in selling their work will find consignment information on the website.
Spokesperson Joanna Thomas promises this year’s poetry prowl will not be the last:
“Next year, we will choose a different poet to honor,” she said, adding that Inland Poetry plans other literary activities. Workshops, a retreat, and a literary journal/press are among the ideas being discussed.
“This all started when it occurred to a group of us poets, hanging out in my living room one evening, that Ellensburg has a film festival, a jazz festival, the First Friday Art Walk, and festivals for beer, buskers, dachshunds, and cowboys, but no gathering of literary folk. We decided to make one….”
For a complete schedule and more details, visit inlandpoetry.com. Questions can be directed to email@example.com.