Florida, March and April 100 Thousand Poets for Change events for peace, highlighting issues of gun violence & memorial for Parkland, March and April 2018.

Florida, March and April 100 Thousand Poets for Change events for peace, highlighting issues of gun violence & memorial for Parkland.
100 Thousand Poets for Change article in the Tallahassee Democrat. 100TPC Gun Violence initiative in Florida! https://www.tallahassee.com/story/life/2018/03/10/poets-change-speak-out-protest-grief/409949002/

Poets for Change speak out in protest, grief
Marina Brown, Democrat correspondent

The tragic events at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School three weeks ago have left Florida and the nation reeling — grieving for the 17 needlessly lost lives, outrage at the gunman or the weapon.

From prayer vigils to demonstrations, and from legislative wrangling to tears, Floridians in particular, have tried to make tangible their feelings. There is one group that may do it best. The Greeks knew it. The Elizabethans did as well. And even today, Poets may have the words that speak for us all.

That is why on March 22 at the Black Dog on the Square from 7-10 p.m., 100 Thousand Poets for Change will present the community’s voice, speaking from the heart in ways not available to a journalist or a lawmaker. Through their poetry, listeners may find revelation and perhaps even an affirmation that our souls remain intact.

Michael Rothenberg is the co-founder of the group, which coalesces in various cities, with various organizers and sponsors, almost as directed “pop-up” explosions of poetry. In Tampa and Jacksonville, Miami and Pensacola, March and April will see 100 Thousand Poets for Change expressing their thoughts with programs called: “Poetry to Stop the Madness,” “Poets for Peace,” and “Verse Against Violence.” Well-known poets and invitees, as well as some open-mike participants, will speak.

But some might ask “why?” “Why poetry in this fraught time when even the best minds are confused and the deepest thinkers cannot find a way to make sense of what has happened?”

Michael Rothenberg answers, “Poetry is a heightened form of communication that speaks to and for the community. It is the voice of the tribe. It is the news. It is a vehicle through which history and tradition are transmitted. We are informed and empowered by poetry. Poetry inspires and motivates us to care about the world. To love the world. Poetry is a critique, an analysis and a revelation, a bond that makes us better for each other. And in more concrete ways, these events that 100 Thousand Poets for Change organizes are vehicles for outreach, education, and happenings that bring people together to not just speak about concerns but to do good actions.”

And in the listening to the poets’ voices, whether filled with pain or beauty, we may each find a new way to address the world and the exigencies it brings.

Poetry events around Florida in March:

Coconut Creek: March 13, 5:30-7:30 p.m. “Poetry for Parkland: Poetry of Peace,” 1100 Cococut Creek Blvd. Bldg. 62. Florida Poet Laureate Peter Meinke will participate in this event.

Miami: March 14, 6:30-7:30 p.m. Wynwood Yard. 100 Thousand Poets for Change: “SWWIM Against Violence.” For more Information contact: swwimmiami@gmail.com.

Pensacola: March 21, 6-8 p.m., “Poems For Parkland,” The Ground Up Community Garden, 501 North Hayne Street, Pensacola. For more information: bmhutchins@gmail.com.

Tallahassee: March 22, 7 p.m., “A World With Guns: Poems of Protest and Memorial,” Black Dog at Railroad Square, Tallahassee. For more information contact: walterblue@bigbridge.org 305-753-4569.

Jacksonville: March 23, 10 p.m.-12PM, “Poetry Reading / Verse Against Violence”, Bab’s Lab, Cork Arts District North, 603 King St. Jacksonville, BABS’ LAB, CoRK Arts District North 603 King St, Jacksonville. For more information: mezofoprezo@gmail.com.

St. Augustine: March 25, 3 p.m., “Poets for Peace,” Corazon Cinema and Café, St. Augustine, poetplantpress@yahoo.com / www.bodor.org / 904-501.0043.


1) MARCH 13, Coconut Creek, Florida: Laura McDermott, Orange Island Arts Foundation, Executive Director- March 13, 5:30-7:30 PM “Poetry for Parkland: Poetry of Peace”, Auditorium of the North Regional County Library, located on Broward College’s North Campus (1100 Coconut Creek Blvd, ​Building 62, Coconut Creek, FL 33066). Florida Poet Laureatre Peter Meinke will be participating. For more information contact Laura McDermott, Broward College, Associate Professor of English lmcdermo@broward.edu or Secondary Contact: Andrew McFeaters Broward College, Associate Professor of English amcfeate@broward.edu


2) MARCH 14, Miami, Florida: 100 Thousand Poets for Change: SWWIM Against Violence 6:30-7:30 Wynwood Yard March 14. Poets that will be reading with selected students include Michael Hettich, Mia Leonin and Caridad Moro-Gronlier. Students are from Miami Dade College, University of Miami and G. Holmes Braddock High School. Hosted by Catherine Esposito Prescott and Jen Karetnick. Open mic at the end if time. Please come and support. For More Information contact: Jen Karetnick and Catherine Esposito Prescott at swwimmiami@gmail.com.

3) MARCH 21, Pensacola, Florida: Organizer: Brett Hutchins- March 21m 6pm-8pm CDT .From the Ground Up Presents “Poems For Parkland” , From The Ground Up Community Garden, 501 North Hayne Street, Pensacola, Florida 32501. In conjunction with 100 Thousand Poets for Change (Official) and in solidarity with March events across the state. Honor World Poetry Day with us in the garden and this open mic poetry event, which encourages individuals to express their feelings about the recent tragedy in Parkland, Florida. Poets are invited on stage to read on our topic “Poems for Parkland.” So grab your chairs, drinks, snacks and listening ears and enjoy this heartfelt evening in the garden. For more information contact. Brett Hutchins, bmhutchins@gmail.com.

4) MARCH 22, Tallahassee, Florida: Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion, organizers,“A World With Guns: Poems of Protest and Memorial” March 22, 7pm, Black Dog at Railroad Square, Tallahassee, Florida. Open mic and readers signup. For more information contact: walterblue@bigbridge.org 305-753-4569

5) MARCH 23, Jacksonville, Florida: Hosted by Keri Foster and Bards and Brews, “Poetry Reading / Verse Against Violence” Friday, March 23 at 10 PM – 12 BABS’ LAB, CoRK Arts District North 603 King St, Jacksonville, Florida 32204 More information: The reading is free but a $5 donation is suggested for the use of BABS’ LAB, CoRK Arts District North. For more information contact Keri Foster, mezofoprezo@gmail.com

6) MARCH 25, St. Augustine, Florida: Chris Bodor, organizer- Ancient City “Poets for Peace,” March 25 open mic 3 pm Corazon Cinema and Café St. Augustine, FL 32084 For more info contact Chris Bodor poetplantpress@yahoo.com / www.bodor.org / (904) 501.0043


7) APRIL 7, Orlando, Florida : Organizer: Russ Golata, “Poetry to Stop The Madness,” Orlando Mead Gardens, 1300 S Denning Dr, Winter Park, FL 32789 Sat April 7 at noon. For more information: Russ Golata blacksox3000@yahoo.com

8.) Tampa, Florida: TBA


A wave of poetry is washing over the First Coast

The awful atrocities committed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine’s Day stand out as the year’s most wrenching national tragedy (so far). But they always say that every cloud has a silver lining, and the political story of the year, without question, has been the stirring response mustered by the survivors of that mass shooting, who rose up with one voice on behalf of their fallen classmates to do what no one really thought would be possible, under any circumstances: effect real, substantive change in the nation’s gun laws, in the midst of an epochal election cycle.

There’s been a cultural shift, as well, with America’s youth motivated and acting to drive policies like never before. These activities are culminating, for the moment, with the March For Our Lives, being held on Saturday, March 24 in Washington, D.C., with satellite rallies scheduled for dozens of other cities around the nation, including right here in Jacksonville. Much like the Women’s Marches of the last two years, these promise to be seminal events that further catalyze the so-called Resistance, while galvanizing a whole new generation of activists. Power To The People, and all that.

On the night before the march, there will be a number of poetry readings in the relevant cities, at which writers and laymen will raise their voices in defiance of this disturbing trend toward hyper-violence. These readings are being coordinated by 100 Thousand Poets for Change. The organization, founded eight years ago by Terri Carrion and Michael Rothenberg, runs as many as 500 events every year, in 100 countries around the globe.

Here in Northeast Florida, the locus of their focus is Babs’ Lab in Riverside, the latest creative effort from the indispensable Ms. Barbara Colaciello-actress, director, teacher and general facilitator of the city’s performing arts scene for two decades now. Colaciello is working in conjunction with the roving poet performers Bards & Brews, whose emcee, Keri Foster, has been hosting spoken-word events around town for five years.

“I’ve personally been hosting events since 2013,” she says, “and so I have had a front seat to the circles of writers that revolve around each other, giving and taking energy and attention, informing and inspiring in turn. From backyard whiskey gatherings, where poems are read from notebooks by firelight, to university programs like those at UNF that inspire students to create their own publications, like Perversion magazine. From the packed-out underground of De Real Ting Cafe to DIY zines crafted with artistic integrity and intention, there’s a huge scene in town right now and it’s a joy to take in.”

Long before becoming a host, she was a fan like all the rest of us, sitting quietly in random places, transfixed by the long list of voices this city has produced. “I’ve been actively following the poetry scene in Jacksonville since 2008,” she says, “when I saw Moses West perform on the second floor of the then-empty Haydon Burns Library at a more lawless ArtWalk, but even before that, I’ve known that the scene existed, having seen Al Letson perform with David Girard and Larry Knight back when I was just a wee art school baby. I remember being deeply impacted by the interchange of passionate voices moving in and around each other, in and around complex layers of identity and story. Spoken-word developed into a passion of mine and I’ve made it a goal since to seek out the local events and poets and support in any way that I can, which is easy because there are actually a handful of solid events and writers in town that are active and economically accessible.”

When it comes to poetry and spoken-word, of course, Bards & Brews isn’t the only game in town. It’s just one of several fine organizations running regular events around the city, going back decades, to the days of Alan Justiss, Midnight Expresso and Nicotine Meltdown. “When people come to me to host events and it’s up to me to assemble a list of poets,” says Foster, “I can think of 15 to 20 people off the top of my head that I know with certainty [are] down for anything.

“The poetry events I’ve hosted have all been free, and entry to my favorite event in town, The Cypher, is only five dollars, which is, of course, practically free. You can’t have a conversation about poetry in Jacksonville without mentioning The Cypher, which has been going on every week for years, acting as an incubation tank for Duval poets who have launched full-blown careers through their art. It’s inspiring to see the love in the community, to see dreams realized. I remember watching Ebony Payne’s one-woman show with Phase Eight Theater Company last year, tears streaming uncontrollably with joy for her continued success as a monster artist and poet.”

While it’s taken a little time to get a solid retinue of events back in regular rotation, Foster notes that there is no shortage of talent-old, young and everything in between. “Writers like Tim Gilmore, G.M. Palmer, Andres Rojas, Teri Youmans Grimm, Johnny Masiulewicz, Kathleen Shelton are all indispensable for their participation in the scene and their love for the craft,” she says. “And, for every poet I know, I know there’s yet still more I don’t know, more words tucked away in journals and draft boxes, more writers in town I will come to know.”

There’s a lengthy list of performers already scheduled, including poet David Girard, whose one-man show is being held there right before the event. Other readers include Ebony Payne, Larry Knight, Tim Gilmore and Johnny Masiulewicz. Events will also be held the same night in Coconut Creek, Miami, Orlando, Pensacola, St. Augustine, Tallahassee, Tampa and Delray/West Palm Beach.

“My goal for Verse Against Violence is straightforward,” says Foster. “I want to open and hold space for artistic dissent against the current administration, its white supremacist values, and its prioritization of corporate welfare over that of its tax-paying citizens.” With a roster of talent running this deep, it’s likely that all those objectives will be achieved. Overall, Verse Against Violence promises to be a very strong start to what should be a game-changing weekend, here and around the country.


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