Redmond’s New Poet Laureate
The following text appeared as a guest blog on the Boynton Blog on 17 November 2013 [edited with updated information here].
The City of Redmond, Washington, recently announced the appointment of its third poet laureate, Michael Dylan Welch. That would be me, your guest blogger today. I’m grateful for this opportunity to share my activities, the fourth of which is the wonderful “Poets in the Park” conference in July, which I hope you can attend. But more about that in a moment. Here are my main plans for the year ahead.
1. “Poem of the Week” posters. These 11x17-inch color posters appear in the Redmond library in hallway entrances, in the poetry section, and in a display space next to the information desk. They also appear at other locations around the city, including the VALA Art Center, two bookstores, the senior center, teen center, city hall, and elsewhere. Sets of weekly posters (I have nine months’ worth) are available for free to use in other businesses and schools in Redmond.
2. “Wanted: Dead or Alive” quarterly poetry readings featuring famous poets. The first reading took place on October 30, focusing on E. E. Cummings, with snacks and drinks provided by the city. People brought favorite Cummings poems to share and discuss. I showed YouTube interpretations of Cummings poems, played recordings of him reading his work, and also explored his poetry in various categories (visual poems, sonnets, love/erotic poems, poems for children, political poems, and what I called “kick-ass” poems). I’ll do similar free programs every three months on the last Wednesday of January (Rumi), April (Emily Dickinson), and July (Neruda).
3. “Summer Poetry Walks.” From May through August, I’ll lead free monthly walks designed to get people outdoors to write poetry about urban and natural environments, followed by sharing and discussion.
4. “Poets in the Park” festival, July 19, 2014 in Anderson Park. I first started and directed this popular conference in 2004 and 2005, and I’m happy to revive it now. It will take place at Anderson Park. Current Washington State poet laureate Elizabeth Austen is on board. Read more details, including schedule and other participants.
In addition to these projects, I continue to curate the SoulFood Poetry Night on the third Thursday of each month (monthly since July of 2006), and to curate readings for the Redmond Association of Spokenword (RASP) on the last Friday of each month. These Redmond readings have featured many fine poets from around Washington State, plus an open mic. I also recently edited Here, There, and Everywhere, the first RASP poetry anthology, available from Amazon. I also run National Haiku Writing Month, each February, the shortest month for the shortest genre of poetry, but action happens year-round on the NaHaiWriMo page on Facebook, where daily writing prompts provide much inspiration for nearly 2,000 participants. I also maintain my own poetry website at www.graceguts.com, and I’ve been a longtime vice president of the Haiku Society of America. You can find out more about Redmond poet laureate events at http://www.redmond.gov/poetlaureate. Hope to see you at one activity or another, and if you have questions or ideas, please drop me a line at WelchM@aol.com. Write on!