St. Augustine PoetFest includes Open Mic Marathon, Author Talks

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Poets and poetry lovers will gather in Ancient City this weekend for the inaugural St. Augustine PoetFest, a free event hosted by Ancient City Poets, the Flagler College English Department and the Cultural Council of St. Johns.

Chris Bodor, founding member of the Ancient City Poets, is the president of the festival. He has assembled a collective of local, regional and national poetry lovers, authors and storytellers who will help celebrate National Poetry Month during the event.

This week the St. Johns County Board of Commissioners proclaimed April Poetry Month and next week the City of St. Augustine will make a similar proclamation.

“St. Augustine has a rich literary history, with former residents including authors Zora Neale Hurston and Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings,” said Christina Parrish Stone, executive director of the St. Johns Cultural Council.

Top 5: Things to do in St. Augustine this week include PoetFest, concerts, 5K, art exhibit

Last year:Ancient city poets return to the stage for National Poetry Month in St. Augustine

Ancient City Poets celebrates this story year-round, Stone said.

“Chris Bodor has put together an exceptional program, with the help of many community partners, including A Classic Theatre,” she said. “Activities are planned for people of all ages throughout the day on April 9.”

The festival kicks off with an open mic from 7-9 p.m. Friday at Relampago Coffee Lab, 74 Spanish Street in the Historic District. A sign-up sheet will be available at 6:30 p.m. for those who wish to participate.

The all-day PoetFest on Saturday takes place on the Flagler College campus from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., featuring book talks, author presentations, a market, an open-mic marathon, and other events in Markland House, Crisp-Ellert Art Museum, and Jay’s Place Outdoor Patio. The festival will conclude with four star readers at 3:30 p.m. at the Ringhaver Student Center. Free entry.

“Indirectly, spoken word legend Henry Rollins picked the day for my poetry festival,” Chris Bodor explained.

“I was in the planning stages with Christina Parrish Stone of the Cultural Council to celebrate National Poetry Month with a day-long festival on Saturday in April 2022. …and in September 2021 the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall has announced that Henry would be bringing his spoken word tour to town on Friday, April 8. The next day, I started announcing that a whole day of poetic events would take place the next day.

Chris Bodor, president of the St. Augustine PoetFest, is shown in these photos at Flagler College, the location of the event.

Bodor saw Henry Rollins in 1989 at Yale University. Bodor contacted Rollins in an email on PoetFest, but he explained that the tour bus would already be in Atlanta the morning of April 9.

Saturday will be a “celebration of creative writing and recitation” and will include a play reading with A Classic Theater in the afternoon, Bodor said. It will also include a story hour for children in the morning with the Storytellers of Saint-Augustin, as well as book talks, author talks, round tables, an open-mic marathon.

The festival will conclude with a reading highlighting four poets: Damian Rucci (New Jersey), Mike Zone (Michigan), Jamie Lynn Stanish (Flagler College alumni) and Chris Bodor (Flager College staff).

Bodor’s first poem was published at age 27 by Anti Misfit Poetry Press.

“That was 30 years ago when you had to send a self-addressed, stamped envelope,” he said. “It was titled March Madness…I’m not a sports fan, so I wrote about my own madness, the voice of a 27-year-old newly married man. My voice at 20 was very different from my voice at 55 today.

Since then, Bodor has been published in the United States and abroad, in print publications and websites. He also published books and literary journals through his own Poet Plant press.

In April 2009, Bodor was invited by the St. Johns Cultural Council to host an open mic of poetry, and Ancient City Poets was born. The event itself was well attended, with former St. Augustine Mayor George Gardner as an attendee, who spoke of his love for literature.

In August 2009, Bodor launched a monthly poetry open mic, which continued for 13 years.

“During the pandemic, we turned to Zoom, with 15 people doing readings, and Facebook Live was the audience,” he explained.

Visit www.bodor.org to see the full schedule for PoetFest, After Party and other National Poetry Month events.

poets festival

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday

Or: Flagler College Campus: Ringhaver Student Center, Markland House, Crisp-Ellert Art Museum

Cost: Free entrance

the after party

When: Doors open for Underground Sounds Spotlight Night at 6 p.m. Saturday. The first act is at 7 p.m.

Or: Shanghai Nobby’s, 10 Anastasia Blvd.

Cost: $5 cover charge goes to performers

National Poetry Month Open Mic

When: 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. April 24

Or: Outdoor Art Patio at 137 King St. in San Sebastian’s Arts District

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