In the “Meet our Starters” series we invite people who start new ideas in their communities to share their stories with the ChangeX community: What gets them excited about an idea, how are they hoping it will benefit the community, how do they make it happen.
Julie is starting Poetry in the Park in Saint Paul, an idea that we took from Ireland to Minnesota, which is all about enjoying poetry into the outdoors together with a group of people who share a love of the spoken word. The first event will take place on August 4.
I’m a poet, so when I discovered the idea of Poetry in the Park through a Facebook post it seemed very appealing. I’m taking poetry classes right now and one of the challenges we were discussing in class was how to collaborate more. We were kicking around ideas and I thought Poetry in the Park might be a good starting point, so I’m just giving it a try and see how it goes.
Since then, I’ve been talking to a lot of people, trying to get more poets and listeners involved who share my love for poetry. I suggested to members from my poetry class to commit to inviting 2 or 3 people each. I posted the idea on Facebook, invited some friends. I’m also part of different online groups around poetry.
So this will actually be an opportunity to invite some people I’ve only met online so far and meet face-to-face for the first time.
Just starting to talk to people about the idea already led to some surprising new connections. I mentioned it to a woman in my exercise class, and it turned out her son does slam poetry. She told him about Poetry in the Park and he was excited to get involved as well.
By teaming up we’d get a more diverse group of people together for this event. To me, that’s somewhat the mission and the beauty of Poetry in the Park: To bring people who are very different together around the shared love for poetry.
I also love the way this idea takes poetry out into nature. I went to a friend’s book launch last summer and she held it outdoors at a farm that was converted into a retreat center. It was really lovely and made me think that if I ever had a book launch, I’d like to duplicate that. I loved that event.
For our first event on August 4th we will meet in a place by the Mississippi river, in Hidden Falls Regional Park. It’s a lovely place, very wide open, there is free parking and it’s accessible for people who are mobility impaired.
I had to rule out my first idea for a location because of the lack of accessibility. There is a park here called “Poetry Park”. It has poems embedded in sidewalks, benches that look like books, everything is about poetry, so it would be perfect. But, it has a lot of paths made of cobblestones, so I needed to pick a different place.
This is the first time I’m organizing something in the community but being a teacher, I’m used to organizing for groups. It’s not something that happens often here in Minnesota, that people take the initiative just privately. If there were 10 to 20 people coming, that would be great. We have six poets committed so far, plus myself. There’s no pressure to share a poem though, people are also welcome to come just to listen! It should be a hot day, so I just asked people to bring lawn chairs and lots of water and that should be all we need for a great event.