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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

Coming Soon! Great 2016-17 Poetry Hoots

Our Opening Hoot: September 7th, with poets: M.P. Carver

and John Simon

Greetings Poetry Lovers. Our 2016-2017 Hoot season is set. Learn all about our featured poets. Each has her or his page with picture and bio. 
   You can find them on the Hoot Night page. Or wait a few days for our eNews Letter.
   It is going to be a great poetry fall and year. Kate Leigh's second year as Poet Laureate is under way. She'll have an update at our opening Hoot.
   September 7th is our opening Hoot, featuring John Simon and M.P. Carver.
   Regular Hoot attendees know John Simon as our Hoot poetry closer who recites poetry from memory. We appreciate the irony of having our poet who usually speaks last, being one our two first poets of the new season.
   M.P. Carver lives in Salem, Massachusetts and writes that she loves the word "zeitgeist" but is too self-conscious to slip it into conversation. Maybe she'll slip it into a poem.
   Two fine features to kick off the new season. Plan to attend. See you then.

Watch YouTube video

on the Poet Laureate Programs' origins, narrated by Kimberly Cloutier Green



One of the closing efforts by Ninth Poet Laureate Kimberly Cloutier Green was to arrange a panel discussion video 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 and preserve our 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 story of how Nancy Moore Hill and compatriots dreamed up the PPLP and made it happen.
   The program lasts about an hour. It's talking heads with no violence or special effects. But it's our talking heads and our history.  Check it out.  

KatieTowler on Virginia Prescott's
"Word of Mouth" NHPR podcast

After her book launch at 3S Artspace author Katie Towler has been doing readings and signings around the region. One of her stops was with Virginia Prescott's "Word of Mouth" radio program.
   We are huge fans of Katie's memoir. If you missed the 3S launch event (and if you didn't) here's an opportunity to hear Katie discuss her work in a fine interview by Virginia Prescott.
   The podcast includes a brief audio excerpt (which we didn't know existed) of Robert reading his Prescott Park posted poem. The podcast is 14 minutes. Worth it. ~Ed.


Letter from the Laureate: Update from Kate


In early May, I became the tenth poet laureate of Portsmouth. Although I do not go around with an laurel wreath on my head, I feel so honored. This first year I have learned how meaningful working with a committee can be. I want to thank the PPLP Board members for teaching me and helping me fulfill this role well.

Poems for Peace - a poetry program for schools
As my Poems for Peace vision unfolded, we started with a letter to school districts associated with all the communities from which our poet laureate program draws nominations. We thought: if the community is eligible for the laureateship, perhaps they might want to take advantage of our Poems for Peace classroom=based program. They did.
     I have spoken with classes from fourth grade through high school seniors. I have addressed groups ranging in size from 12 to 75. Some classes are limited to 45 minutes; some I have the luxury of over an hour.

African Burying Ground as Prompt
     I use the African Burying Ground as a prompt and an example not only of excellence in community response, but also of the positive changes possible in our society. The discussion takes us into difficult territory, but important and thoughtful questions and examples are raised. I have been very impressed by both the students and their teachers.
     In the program I read them the poem by Jerome Meadows, which I call the I Stand For poem. I also sometimes read poems from the book of slavery poems called I Lay My Stitches Down.

The Classroom Process
     I let students know I have no expectations for poetic form. Instead, I explain, I am interested in their thoughts, in what they have to say. I write with them. Usually the teachers do, too. We keep a quiet writing space for anywhere from ten to fifteen minutes, then share. No one is required to share, but most do. No one is required to pass in their poems to me; some do. Along the way I have learned a few ways to encourage shy students. I always wish I had more time with them.
     The program has been well-received at each school and class I've visited. I also offer students what I call follow-up options. I explained about our Youth Hoot in January and was able to build some interest in it.

National Poetry Month at Ceres Bakery Gallery April 1st
Now I am encouraging participation with either poetry or art, or both, in the National Poetry Month show at Ceres Bakery's gallery, beginning with a Youth Poetry Reading April 1, at 5:30.
     I hope to hear from teachers throughout the month of March to build participation. I've created a flyer for this event, and have circulated it to the teachers with whom I have been in touch. I hope this event is as successful as the Martin Luther King Day event at the South Church was in January.  We had a young reader from the Moharimet School as a participant.
The results of this project might not be evident instantly; I view them as seeds planted to flower in the future.

After School Poets

After School Poets on their way into Portsmouth Library
After School Poets on their way into Portsmouth Library
Kate with After School Poets working on poetry and art in the Library

My 'pet project' is the After School Poets program, which has been running for several months at Portsmouth Public Library. I have several young poets getting their start at writing verse, whose mothers are essential to the process going smoothly. Not only will some of them be participating in April, but a some of this group's work will be on display at the Library in May.

Youth and Eldercare
     To an extent, I'll feel my work will be complete when I am able to go visit at least one eldercare facility with a couple of young poets to share poetry with these members of our community. I hope to organize this for summer or perhaps fall of this year.

In conclusion...
     By the way, the African Burying Ground adds an interesting element to our already fascinating artistic community. It draws visitors who care immensely about Black History. This includes, of course, the artist from Savannah, Jerome Meadows. The PPLP helped to support his efforts to produce Blank Page last October.

Breaking News!
I just heard he may be coming back to do another Blank Page at the first anniversary of the African Burying Ground in late May. Stay tuned.

Thank you for this ongoing opportunity. And for your support.
~Kate Leigh

>> View images from the Ceremony and Celebration

>>  Learn about our previous Laureates here.

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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