St. John’s Poet Laureate Kicks Off an Atypical Poetry Club for Poets and Poetry Fans Alike, “The St. John’s Poetry Circle”

What separates George Murray’s St. John’s Poetry Circle from typical reading series is that an author doesn’t read their own work at these events, but rather, a poem they admire

497What separates George Murray’s St. John’s Poetry Circle from typical reading series is that an author doesn’t read their own work at these events, but rather, a poem they admire.

This means the group is open to not only poets, but lovers of poetry. It is a monthly gathering and discussion founded and run by the current St. John’s Poet Laureate, and stalwart supporter and promoter of quality literature, George Murray. You simply bring a poem you admire, read it, and discuss with your fellow poetry lovers.

So this is open to anyone interested in poetry, not just dauntingly talented local poets?

Yes. The central idea is that this isn’t a poetry reading – in the sense that it’s not working poets sharing their own work – but rather a club of people interested in poetry who will instead be sharing work they admire or want to discuss. People will introduce their poem briefly, maybe explaining why they brought it (my dad used to recite it; I heard it at a funeral and loved it; we read it in school and I never really understood it), and then read it. If there’s some discussion afterwards, that’s great, but if not, we go on to the next.

What drew you to the idea of this being about readers reading work they admire, as opposed to poets reading their own work?

As much as we poets lament the decline in readership our form has experienced over the last 100 years, we don’t do a lot to make the appreciation of our art accessible to those not already practicing it. Whenever people outside the arts world find out I’m a poet, they often say things like, “Oh, I used to read poetry” or “I wish I still read poetry,” and I’ve always suspected that this is because there’s no real safe place for people who want to explore poetry without feeling at a disadvantage. So I wanted to create that space as a gateway for people hoping to engage or re-engage with the form.

What poem did you bring to your first meeting, and why?

“One Art,” by Elizabeth Bishop. I find it an inspiring poem about poetry, and it’s also a villanelle, which is a pleasant form to hear read aloud.

How can people learn a little more about, and keep abreast of St. John’s Poetry Circle?

We have an open Facebook page called “St. John’s Poetry Circle” that people are welcome to like for information. There were already 50 people there even before the first meeting. I imagine the group will start small, but will grow.

How often will you meet, and how can folks get involved?

We meet the last Sunday of every month from 4 to 5pm at the Jumping Bean Coffee shop on Harvey Road in St. John’s (behind The Rooms, and right across from the Tim Hortons, ironically). People can just show up, poem in hand, or they can get to us through the Facebook page.

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