WESTFIELD – ArtWorks Westfield members are celebrating National Poetry Month using a “precautionary COVID hybrid approach,” according to Bill Westerlind, ArtWorks founder and president.
“This year, with the pandemic winding down but still influencing how we interact in person, we launched the 2021 Community Poetry Experience as an online experience to celebrate National Poetry Month, culminating with an in-person poetry open mic event on the Green in downtown Westfield called Poetry In The Park,” said Westerlind.
Westerlind noted that the Poetry In The Park open mic experience on May 1 from 12-3 p.m. will allow for in-person spoken word in a space that is open to allow for social distancing. A rain date of May 8 has been set.
“Poetry In The Park is a free event and open to everyone,” he said. “Poets and writers are encouraged to share their creativity and talent with the community. Community members are also invited to bring lawn chairs and blankets, set up on the grass, and listen to the beauty and pageantry of poetry.”
Open mic participants can sign up in person on the day of the event or online on the 2021 Community Poetry Experience Facebook page. Standard COVID-19 protocols will apply including microphone sanitization after each speaker, face coverings and social distancing.
“This casual open mic format allows poetry writers of all skill sets to share their vision and creativity with the community,” said Westerlind. “Whether you are a professional writer or the occasional scribe who enjoys sharing life experiences through the written and spoken word, the open mic format is a fabulous platform to tell the world what is on your mind.”
Westerlind added that with more than a year of pandemic fatigue and experiences, there are “lots of stories” to tell through poetry.
Throughout April, residents and writers have been encouraged to post their work or another author’s poetry they enjoy, on the ArtWorks Westfield 2021 Community Poetry Experience Facebook page. The page remains open and works of poetry can be shared at any time.
“The community is invited to visit the page and experience the artistry of poetry,” said Westerlind, noting the link is https://bit.ly/2021CommunityPoetryExperience
Westerlind has been the principle organizer of the event with assistance from the WhipCity Wordsmiths, a Westfield-based writer’s group, and Write-Up Springfield.
“Poetry is truly an experience – there is something special about absorbing the spoken word that can often be raw and emotional as much as it can be playful and adventuresome,” said Westerlind, adding, “There are very few opportunities for area residents and community members to experience the emotions of poetry in Westfield.”
Westerlind noted that ArtWorks members strive to offer diverse and freely accessible art and cultural experiences to the Greater Westfield community. Now in its fourth year, ArtWorks members have celebrated National Poetry Month in April by producing the Images & Words Poetry Contest, the Westfield Poetry Trail, and open mic events.
“Celebrating National Poetry Month through open mic adventures has always been one of our passions,” he said. “Poets and writers love to share their creativity and experiences. Supporting these storytellers by listening and absorbing their words and energy enriches all of us.”