Taking Poetry to the Streets

Last Month, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library heldit’s first ever, street festival on G Street between9th and 10th, in commemoration of NationalPoetry Month.

According to Barbara Gloriod, ReferenceLibrarian and Volunteer Coordinator of the event, in the past thelibrary has held smaller poetry readings and other events involvingpoetry during the month of April but while planning this one”it just kind of kept growing and growing until it eventuallyturned into a festival.” The event was hosted by radiopersonalities Kojo Nnamdi and Josephine Reed. Guest speakersincluded DC Poet Laureate Dolores Kendrick, HowardUniversity’s own Poet E. Ethelbert Miller, author of thebook, Fathering Words: The Making of an African AmericanWriter, and Tree Swenson, executive director of the Academy ofAmerican Poets.

Gloriod said, “Poetry is something thatcan appeal to all people of all ages,” and that’sexactly what the festival set out to do through an assortment ofactivities. The outdoor stage for children featured “SistahJoy” having fun with poetry and sing-along poem “IambicPentameter” by Emmy winning composer John Kimbrough while themain stage offered a reading of the poetry of Pablo Neruda in bothSpanish and English and also an open mic. Throughout the eventthere were films being shown inside the library as well as a poetryand art exhibit.

Though the unexpected cold probablydiscouraged many from venturing outdoors, the event was wellattended and did not stop many parents, children and students likeJenna Flores, whose excitement and energy is what kept the moodlight and warm during the course of the main stage events. Floressaid, “fun events like this are important to help spreadenthusiasm for literacy and the arts.” The event concluded at4pm.

Similar events are being held all over theDistrict including the Howard University Bookstore, which ishosting a poetry extravaganza to be held every Thursday during themonth of April.