A new program will give Cordova’s aspiring poets a forum to develop and share their work. Cordova Public Library’s Monthly Poetry Showcase grew out of the library’s April poetry slam competition. The showcase will be held at 6 p.m. on the last Friday of each month.
While the poetry slam will continue to be held each April, the Monthly Poetry Showcase is intended as a venue for mutual encouragement rather than for competition, librarian Jillian Gold said.
“[The poetry slam] felt really intimate and inspiring, and I thought, if I just removed the competitive component… it could create a forum where aspiring writers can come together,” Gold said. “I think it’s nice to share with a group of people who are also in the vulnerable position of sharing something they’ve created. Maybe they’re shy about speaking out loud, or they’ve created something deeply personal. It levels the playing field — we’re all participating in this together. We’re all offering a bit of ourselves to each other.”
For the time being, Zoom is used to read poems out loud or to share the text of a poem. Presentations are limited to roughly three minutes, though additional presentations are permitted after each participant has had an opportunity to present once. Each month will have a differently themed prompt for poetic composition. May’s theme is “taking flight,” reflecting the seasonal movement of migratory birds through Cordova. The showcase will continue to select broad themes that can be connected to goings-on in the community, Gold said.
“It’s such a challenge to give voice to a thought or a feeling, and it’s deeply rewarding to hone-in on a specific coupling of words that lends a certain magic to a thought,” Gold said.
Though there have been robust expressions of interest from community members, it’s often difficult to secure a hard-and-fast commitment to attend an event a month in advance, Gold said. There’s no registration deadline for the poetry showcase, though Gold hopes that not too many participants will wait until the last minute to register, as occurred during the April poetry slam.
Gold also intends the showcase to give aspiring poets a push toward regularly practicing their craft, she said.
“Cordova is kind,” Gold said. “It’s the hardest thing to overcome, when you feel a shyness about sharing … But there’s no place better than here to explore a new thing that you feel vulnerable exploring. We are the kindest crowd.”