Poetry Month in Ashland

April is a happy time for poets and poetry lovers, and once again people in Ashland are doing National Poetry Month with style, rhythm and rhyme. Starting today and for the next 30 days there are scores of poetry-related events around town.

Here's a list of some, but surely not all, of the poetic possibilities in Ashland. Almost everything on this list is free or has a low admission cost. That is a great thing about poetry. It doesn't need money, it just wants to be shared.

Bloomsbury Books:

The bookstore will host free readings throughout April.

Monday, April 11, 7 p.m. — The Downtowne Poets: Regulars of the Downtowne Coffeehouse open mic series will share their work.

Wednesday, April 20, 7 p.m. — Brian Culhane and local poets Amy MacLennan and Amy Miller.

Friday, April 22, 7 p.m. — Laura LeHew and Joy McDowell.

Bloomsbury is located at 290 E. Main Street. For information call 541-488-0029

Illahe Art Gallery

Thursday, April 21, 7 p.m. — The railroad district gallery hosts a monthly reading series. For April, Jessica Lamb, Donna Henderson and local poet Julie Weber will share their work.

Illahe is located at 215 Fourth St. For information call 541-488-5072.

SOU Lawson Inada and Friends Poetry Festival

This two-day festival is the grandaddy of events.

Friday April 15, 7 p.m. — Schneider Museum of Art. A free reception where former Oregon poet laureate Lawson Inada will read his poetry with musicians Todd Barton and Terry Longshore. Poet and author Rick Barot will speak about Inada's contribution to literature.

Saturday, April 16, events from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Hannon Library. Inada and a bevy of writers, musicians and artists lead readings and discussions focusing on poetry and collaboration in the arts. The Saturday event is $15 and includes lunch.

For more information, visit http://poetry.sou.edu/

OSF Hip-Hop Poetry Open Mic

Monday, April 4, 7-9 p.m. — Black Swan Theatre. The second open mic of the series will feature hip hop artist Angela Kariotis. This is a space for newbies and pros to mix and experiment. Share writing, music, theatrical skills of any genre or just listen and enjoy. Admission is free. For information, call 541-482-2111.

Ashland Branch Library

Sunday, April 3, from 1:30 to 4 p.m. — Create cut-up poetry. All ages and skills are invited to participate in this free workshop led by Deborah Holmes and Sally Ehrman. Awaken to words by recycling text into poems, using scissors, glue sticks, and imagination. The library is located at 410 Siskiyou Blvd. For information call 541-774-6995.

Around the Valley starting today, as part of the "Poets on the Loose" movement, a number of poets will be popping up all over the Rogue Valley sharing poems with unsuspecting people.

Even if you skip the readings or hide from the poets on the street you can still have some poetry fun. There is a Rogue Valley chapter for the National Poetry Writing Month challenge. Go to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/RVNaPoWriMo4/join to register. Then commit to writing a poem and posting it to the online forum every day for the month. Easy.

Those who prefer to quietly read poetry can download the Poetry Foundation iPhone app. The free app includes hundreds of poems by classic and contemporary poets. If you don't have an iPhone, Poets.org offers a free Poem a Day by email. In addition to readings and performances and email, there is always the simple act of picking up a book of poems and reading a few. Poems are short and they can make you smile or cry or feel something you may not have felt in a long time.

Regardless, it's a good time to be in Ashland. The sun is making appearances, flowers are blooming, and there is poetry everywhere.

Angela Decker is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Contact her at decker4@gmail.com.

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