Cincinnati Poet Laureate
April 2016 – December 2017
In April 2016 I was appointed Poet Laureate of Cincinnati, serving through March 31, 2018. My mission has been to connect people to poetry and to connect people through poetry. My original objectives and status to date are below.
- Offer a series of writing experiences for adults and youth where we explore the nature of our communities and our city, craft composite poems from these writing experiences. Twenty workshops, including:
- The Alzheimer’s Association of Greater Cincinnati
- Shifrah in Walnut Hills
- Dunham Recreation Center
- Clifton Recreation Center
- MyCincinnati Youth Orchestra (Price Hill)
- Lower Price Hill Women’s Group
- Cincinnati Walking Sonnet Program at Chase Public (Northside)
- Write Me I’m Yours (Clifton)
- Cincinnati Walking Sonnet Program at Mercantile Library (Downtown)
- Pleasant Ridge Recreation Center
- McKie Recreation Center Program (Northside)
- Cincinnati Walking Sonnet Program at Moeller High School
- Cincinnati State Technical and Community College
- City Gospel Mission (Queensgate)
- Cincinnati Walking Sonnet Program at Clark Montessori High School (Hyde Park)
- The Hive Poetry As Witness; Poetry For Change (Northside)
- Art for Artists at Dunham Recreation Center (Western Hills)
- WordPlay Cincinnati Scribes (Northside)
- Everybody Let’s Write (Mt. Airy)
- Springer School (O’Bryonville)
Currently two more workshops are in the planning stages, at Elementz in Over the Rhine and The Sanctuary in Lower Price Hill.
- Develop a plan to make poetry widely visible and enjoyed.
- Currently, approximately 50 poems are published on the Community Workshops Writing section of my website (linked to the City’s Cincinnati Poet Laureate Webpage.) These include composite poems created from the activities above, poems shared by individual workshop participants and my own writing inspired by these projects.
- 15 Cincinnati Sonnets are posted as a result of the Cincinnati Walking Sonnet Project.
- In April 2017 I posted poems daily by a total of 45 Cincinnati area poets in my Cincinnati Poetry Month Daily Project, which culminated in a Poetry Month Reading at People’s Liberty on April 26.
- I promote readership of these through the Cincinnati Poet Laureate Facebook Page and Poet Laureate of Cincinnati Events Group. Over 500 viewers have subscribed to one or both of these pages.
3. Explore reinstituting the City’s Neighborhood Poet Laureate program.
• The Advisory Committee agreed that this project would take a greater infrastructure than the City currently has in place.
• However, the Cincinnati Walking Sonnet Project encourages poets to get out into their own (and other) neighborhoods and be inspired by what they encounter, and have led Cincinnati Walking Sonnet workshops (see above).
• The Cincinnati Walking Sonnet Project instructions and sonnets are among the most popular links on my website.
• Collaborated with CincyStories to craft a poem from Walnut Hills residents’ stories.
- Poetry as commentary on public events.
- Three Community Poems each with lines contributed by over twenty poets from throughout Cincinnati
- Cincinnati: The State of Us, written for the occasion of the 2016 State of the City address.
- Our Words: Cincinnati, April 2017, written for Poetry Month 2017.
- Cincinnati: A Song of Us, written for and performed at the City Council Swearing-in Ceremony on January 2, 2018. This poem has recieved the most attention of any of the 100+ poems posted on the site, primarily because of a Cincinnati Enquirer article with a misleading headline focusing on a few controversial lines. In fact, the poem evokes a wide perspective of all that makes Cincinnati unique.
- Multiple public readings of the above poems (Books by the Banks, Mercantile Library, Word Of Mouth Reading Series, Cincinnati Public Library Poetry in the Garden Series, City Council Meeting.)
- Several Cincinnati Poetry Month Daily Project poems are topical in nature, including a poem for Opening Day.
- Hosted “Art Now: A Reading From/ Discussion of Ionesco’s Rhinoceros & Other Timely Work” at Chase Public
- Led a “Write Our Democracy” Open Mic Reading on Presidents Day 2017, with over thirty poets participating.
- I regularly post photographs as visual prompts on the Poet Laureate of Cincinnati Events Group on Facebook, which has resulted in dozens of poems, many of which are in response to current events.
- Help publicize and support the vast range of poetry organizations and poets in the greater Cincinnati area.
- Poet Laureate Group Facebook page where organizations and poets can list their events and learn about others. This group has over 500 members and serves as a clearinghouse for dozens of literary events each month.
- First poet invited to participate as an author at the Books by the Banks Festival, in 2016. I assisted in organizing a successful pre-festival event at the Mercantile Library, kicked off the reading series at the Author Pavilion Stage and facilitated a panel discussion. In 2017, at least five additional poets were included at author tables.
- Judge for Regional Poetry Outloud Contest at Elementz and for Cincinnati State’s Poetry Contest.
- Sponsored the Cincinnati Poetry Month Reading, Wednesday, April 26, 7 pm, People’s Liberty, 1805 Elm Street, Over the Rhine, which included 18 readers who had been part of the Cincinnati Poetry Month Daily project.
- Host for Cincinnati State’s weekly Poetry Month Reading Series in April 2017.
- Serve as an “Ambassador for Poetry,” reading my own poems and the poems I crafted with a wide cross-section of the community.
- Poet Laureate Announcement Ceremony at the Mercantile Library, attended by approximately 100 people, with almost all of Cincinnati’s literary organizations represented.
- Readings, panels and other speaking engagements include Mt Washington Community Council, Women’s Way of Ohio/Kentucky, Chase Public, Miami University/Hamilton, The Hive: A Center for Contemplation, Art, and Action, Cincinnati Neighborhood Games, MyCincinnati Youth Orchestra, Mercantile Library, ConcertNova, Tongue and Groove Literary Salon, Clifton Cultural Arts Center, Elementz, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, Cincinnati State Technical and Community College, Word of Mouth, Greater Cincinnati Writers League, Cincinnati Public Library, Urban Appalachian Community Coalition, StoryCorps, Cincinnati City Council, Women’s Way, Word of Mouth, Cincy Stories, Alzheimer’s Association, The Writers Collective and Arnold’s Bar and Grill.
- Represented the City’s Poet Laureate Program in other communities through readings and workshops hosted by Mac’s Backs Books in Cleveland, Miami University/Hamilton , Otterbein University. Northern Kentucky University, Thomas More College, Roebling Books, Lincoln Memorial University, Covington Center for Great Neighborhoods and Hotel Covington.
- Poet Laureate interviews for CityBeat, WNKU, WVXU, The Cincinnati Public Library’s Writer-in-Residence’s podcast, Inside the Writer’s Head and “Brat Chat with Belinda Cai” on INHAILER Broadcast.
- Acknowledged by CityBeat as Best Ambassador for Poetry, 2017.
- I collected information on Cincinnati Literary Groups to include as resource page on the City’s Cincinnati Poet Laureate Webpage had staff support been made available.