by Tatiana Diaz
April is National Poetry Month, and the St. Johns Cultural Council and Ancient City Poets have four main events planned throughout the month to celebrate. To kick off National Poetry Month local poets will have a book signing during the First Friday.

Art Walk from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., Friday, April 2 at the Art Studio of St. Augustine Beach, located at 370 A1A Beach Blvd. The following week features “Poetry on Film,” hosted by James Scott, where spoken word documentaries and videos will be shown followed by a discussion. It takes place from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., Thursday, April 8 at Art Box, located at 137 King Street. Another book signing is scheduled during the Farmers Market at Air Stream Row on Vilano Beach from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., April 17. And closing out National Poetry Month is an open mic poetry reading hosted by the Ancient City Poets at 3 p.m., Sunday, April 25, at the outdoor pavilion outside the WildHeart Boutique and the Butterfield Garage Art Gallery, located at 137 King St.

Chris Bodor, local poet and founder of the Ancient City Poets in St. Augustine, helped organize the events in the oldest city to shine the spotlight on poetry.

“The Ancient City Poets open mic was created in April of 2009 by Glenda Bailey-Mershon and the Cultural Council as a local observation of National Poetry Month,”

Kimmy Van Kooten

Bodor said in an email about the month-long celebration in St. Augustine. “I was really missing the positive effects of the poetry series that I ran in New York City, so I offered to take the poetry baton when Glenda moved out of state. For the past eleven years we’ll have dedicated our April last Sunday of the month open mic reading to National Poetry Month. This year, the St. Johns Cultural Council offered assistance, and I graciously took them up on their generosity. The County is offering so much support that they are even presenting us with a proclamation in April.”

Bodor is excited for “the new voices who have something amazing to say,” and is especially looking forward to the new generation of poets and lovers of poetry alike. “Dylan Galley, the 9-year-old with a notebook full of poems, always takes my breath away,” Bodor said. “I am like a verbal vampire, I am always searching for fresh poetry blood and new talent.”

National Poetry Month was established in April 1996 by the Academy of American Poets to showcase the importance of poetry in our culture and lives. Bodor shares a similar sentiment.

Robert Waldren

 

“National Poetry Month is a forced, yet very much appreciated, spotlight on poetry and spoken word,” Bodor said. “People who would not normally be exposed to poetry get a taste of it every April. If someone picks up a pen and writes down something that is in their heart onto a piece of paper, then I will have done my job.”

For more information about local National Poetry Month events in St. Augustine, visit the St. Johns Cultural Council’s website at www.stjohnsculture.com and