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The Portsmouth Poet Laureate Program
is dedicated to building community through poetry by appointing and supporting an outstanding local poet as Poet Laureate for the city, sponsoring events that feature area poets and authors from outside the New Hampshire Seacoast, and encouraging a love of poetry among people of all ages.

The Portsmouth Poet Laureate Program presents a variety of events throughout the year: readings, celebrations, publications. These events are announced in the Portsmouth Herald and our eNews letter. Click below to sign up for it. And check us out on Facebook!

    Sign up for PPLP eNews
   

March in to Cafe Espresso to hear Featured Readers Brian Evans-Jones and Meg Leonard Wednesday, March 2nd

Brian Evans-Jones hails from Southern Maine - the Bertwick area, we believe.  Originally from the UK, he moved to this country for several reasons, family for one and to study for his MFA at UNH. 
     He notes, "This is a very exciting time for me. I'm looking forward to a time when writing will be my primary activity. I'm looking forward to working with a community of talented poets," instructors and peers both.

Megan Leonard's poetry has appeared in a variety of publications. She has been a finalist for the Marcia Jan Vilek Prize, the Frost Place chapbook contest , and the New Women's Voices chapbook competition. 
     She received the Ruth Forbes Eliot Prize in Poetry and the Puerto del Sol Poetry Prize...She also know about mazes and labryinths and can explain the difference between the two.

Two fine young local poets will launch our March Hoot.  Come early for a good seat.


What a great turnout for our February Hoot ...
with Featured Readers Jody Hetherington and Jessica Purdy on February 3rd
    Cafe Espresso was packed. Jessica and Jody were in fine form, as were our open Mic poets. If you haven't been to a Hoot yet this year, plan to attend. We have a wonderfully strong poetry community in the Seacoast. Month after month we are blessed to hear some of the finest poets in all of New England.  Plan to attend.


Watch our video on PPLP's beginnings on YouTube

 

 

One of the closing efforts on PPLP's behalf by Ninth Poet Laureate Kimberly Cloutier Green was to organize a panel discussion on the history and origins of the PPLP. With Nancy Moore Hill's passing this became a clear and important need on our part:  to capture our own history.

   The discussion was recorded at PPMtv's Portsmouth studio, edited by Bill Humphreys, and  is now on YouTube! It features four women who were there at the get-go.

   The program is historic. It is the definitive discussion of how Nancy Moore Hill and compantriots dreamed up the PPLP and made it (us!) happen.

   We hope to find a local venue, like the Library (?) for a dedicated showing of the film, but if you don't want to wait you can view it now.

 


Portsmouth Poet Laureate, Kate Leigh

image courtesy: www.soundnh.com

The Passing of the Quill is part of the inauguration ceremony, every two years, of the next Poet Laureate. An ingredient of the Passing of the Quill tradition is this:  after the outgoing Laureate passes the quill, the new Laureate reads a poem.  Here is Kate's poem.  Blog-style, Tammi Truax's introduction appears after Kate's poem.

Lilacs by Kate Leigh

We're fond of the common lilac over other flowers,
As children we played beneath her branches with our toys.
We love the way she drapes her weight, forming scented bowers.
Now adults, we cut her blooms to grace our homes with poise.

Lilac, no wonder you are named flower of our state.
Weddings planned so brides can stand, cradling your bouquets.
It’s for all your varieties and exhaled breath we wait.
Your white and purple fragrant bunches, favorites of displays.

I hold with Celia Thaxter’s abundant love of flowers.
She basked in joy of tending, from seeds to fully risen.
Her gardens beamed with splendor, both single buds and showers,
Her bliss sustained by those beds, radiant as prisms.

On Smuttynose the Island’s stand of lilacs has gone wild.
For whom is shrub pruning more a pleasure than a duty?
These may be the oldest boughs New England has on file.
Whence springs the caring soul that cherishes their beauty?

Celia says, 'true lover of flowers is born, not made’
May pure ‘joy…..tranquil, innocent, uplifting, unfailing’
Visit our gardens, and while near lilacs’ corsaged glade,
Persuade us always to adore loveliness unveiling.

Obama recently remarked a barren world would be,
One which we will not allow, one void of poetry.

As Portsmouth keeps expanding, let us hope to revere
Lilacs grown by historic homes, and lyric poems sincere.


City Hall Ceremony, May 4, 2015:
Introduction by Tammi Truax

I met Kate Leigh, appropriately enough, at a poetry reading, I don't know how many years ago. We have been shepherding each other's work ever since. For example, she is currently reading a hefty manuscript of mine that I can't get anyone else to touch. And I know she will give me thoughtful and intelligent feedback....

I am certain that we, this little city that she loves flaws and all, will benefit in ways now unimaginable. I am certain her project, whatever it will be, will also have the mother's, the gardener's, the healer's touch to it. It will come to us, I expect, in soft and subtle ways, and we will find ourselves fed in ways we didn't know we hungered.

It will be peaceful. It will be profound. It will be poetic.

I'd like to close by reading a brief poem written by Portsmouth very first poet laureate, Esther Buffler, chosen because this poem reminds me of Kate. Probably because both are/were unflappable women.

Posthumous by Esther Buffler

like removing one's bra in relief.

Things that bind the spirit,
now no one's looking, nothing to fear;

Old established patterns
have no meaning;

Lifted, arising into an unfettered,
unbothered clear, I am free.


>> View images from the Ceremony and Celebration


>>  Learn about our previous Laureates here.

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The Poetry Hoot season takes place on the 1st Wednesday of each month from September through June at Cafe Espresso in Portsmouth from 7 to 9 pm. Doors open 6-ish. Write poetry; share at the Hoot!

 

Read Poems!  Poems from the Hoot Where we review poems by PPLP Poetry Hoot readers such as SL Manning and other local poets.


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