The South Jersey Poets Collective has hosted its monthly World Above Poetry Night series at Dante Hall since September, and intends to continue the original poetry readings through 2013.
ATLANTIC CITY — According to its mission statement, the South Jersey Poets Collective [SJPC] is a local organization “dedicated to sustaining a community of artists interested in writing and sharing their poetry,” and is comprised of an eclectic group — from the upcoming to the more established poets — that gathers monthly at Dante Hall to inspire and energize each other.
“The group is comprised of over 40 poets at this point,” says the SJPC’s Aubrey Gerhardt. “There are Atlantic City natives, area professors, published poets, transient individuals — a wide mix of extremely talented people involved, ranging from amateurs to experienced poets.”
The first group of poets to read at Dante Hall for the World Above Poetry Night series in Sept. 2012, pictured right.
The SJPC first began hosting its monthly poetry readings in the basement of the Linwood Public Library, then moved to Dante Hall [14 North Mississippi Ave. in A.C.] in September for the 2012 World Above Poetry Night series. The group meets on the fourth Wednesday of each month, starting with an open-mike format around 7pm that is free and open to the public, followed by a featured poet.
In the open format, each reader is given three minutes to read his/her poetry. And while the poems are not screened, readers are asked to be respectful of those around them while remaining honest to themselves — no threatening, racist, homophobic or hateful messages are tolerated. The series is recommended for adults due to the potentially mature nature of the some of the poems.
Well-established local poets who are members of the S.J. Poets Collective include Peter Murphy, Joel Dias-Porter, Bruce Williams, Cole Eubanks, Emari DiGiorgio, Emily Van Duyne, Richard Russell, Paul-Victor Winters, Ernie Schell, Mary Artley Werner, MaryLisa DeDomenicis, Elinor Mattern and others.
The next World Above Poetry Night is tonight — Wednesday, Jan. 23, starting 7pm — and the featured artist is Barbara Daniels, who was twice awarded an Individual Artist Fellowship by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts (in 1998 and 2005).
Daniels (left) has published more than 200 poems. Her work has appeared in literary magazines published by 33 colleges and universities, and has appeared in dozens of journals published in 30 states. She has also participated as a staff member in writing conferences and workshops at several colleges, and in 1999 earned a Master of Fine Art in writing from Vermont College. She also has a master’s degree in English and American Literature from New York University, and has taught at Camden County College since 1976.
This year marks the 17th year of the Academy of American Poets’ launching of April as National Poetry Month.
Though the night was filled with spoken-word talent of all genres, children and young adults also spoke passionately about being bullied and the challenges of growing up in a society that glorifies violence but complains about the proliferation of violence and guns in our neighborhoods.
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