Orcas Island celebrates National Poetry Month with readings, workshops, and more

Orcas is celebrating National Poetry Month in April with multiple feasts of the linguistic sort.

Orcas Center is hosting the third annual Spotlight on Local Poets on Saturday, April 10 at 7:30 p.m. in the OffCenter Stage. The evening is curated by local writer JoEllen Moldoff, who leads the Orcas Writers Roundtable, a group that meets monthly at the Library to hear and support each other’s work.

“I’m thrilled to be part of this event,” said Moldoff. “I enjoy the experience of working with the poets; there’s a mix of poets that have read before and been well received but we also have included some new poets that are very fresh and original and it’s very exciting to see, especially in adults – that kind of joy when you discover something new. It’s almost like a rebirth.”

Moldoff said she’s seen a sincere interest in poetry from Orcas folks of all ages, and said many fine poems were submitted. She selected a variety from those she felt were most accessible, especially in verbal form. As an active member of the literary community, Moldoff has led poetry workshops at the library and has been writing poetry for 20 years.

“It’s a form of expression that touches people at all stages of the life cycle,” she said. “For me it’s been a very enriching part of my life to read poetry, to attempt to write my own poetry, and to be involved with a community of poets.”

In addition to Moldoff, who will read, the participating writers are: Sadie Bailey, Jennifer Brennock, Anita Leigh Holladay, Jean Huntley, Ingrid Karnikis, Elsie McFarland, Zona McKenzie, Rachel Newcombe, Suzanne Olson, Shelly Russell, Laurel Rust, Ed Wilson and Ken Wood.

Tickets to Spotlight on Local Poets are $13 and $9 (students) at the door of the Off Center Stage, and in advance at the Orcas Center box office. Patrons are strongly encouraged to purchase tickets in advance because seating is limited.

The Orcas Island Library will be displaying poetry by young Orcas Island poets throughout the month of April. Librarian Nita Couchman will be accepting submissions from poets ages 7 to 18, until April 5, and said late submissions will also be accepted.

On Saturday, April 10 the Writer’s Roundtable will feature a session on Poetry at the library from 1 to 3 p.m.

The community is invited to attend a poetry reading by award-winning poet Kathleen Flenniken at 7 p.m. at the library on Friday, April 23.

Flenniken’s first book, “Famous,” won the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry and was named a Notable Book by the ALA and a finalist for the Washington State Book Award. Her poems have appeared in “The Writer’s Almanac,” “American Life in Poetry,” “Poetry Daily,” “Poetry,” and “The Iowa Review,” and she is a recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and Artist Trust. She teaches with Writers in the Schools in Seattle and other arts agencies, and is an editor and president of “Floating Bridge Press,” a non-profit press dedicated to publishing Washington state poets.

Flenniken will also be hosting a poetry reading and workshop on April 24, although the workshop is full at this time. The workshop will include a presentation on craft and publishing by Kathleen, as well as her critique of the poems submitted by participants.

To finish out the month’s festivities, the community is invited to a poetry reading on Friday, April 30 at 7 p.m. in the library’s meeting room. The young poets with work on display at the library will read their poems, and adults are invited to participate by reading favorite childhood poems as well.

For more information, contact Nita Couchman at 376-4985.