Poetry blooms in St. Pete, in this city of art, music, magic, and possibility. Nearly three years ago my husband and I were sun chasers who kissed the North goodbye in the dead of winter. And just months after moving here, I felt a strong connection to the community. One of the first places we went to was the open mic at Studio 620, where it felt as though the poets opened the pages of their skin to share their stories—there was that kind of honesty.
St. Pete is a welcoming place with thoughtful people and today I am feeling an abundance of gratitude, like gratitude is splish-splashing from my fingertips, puddling beneath my feet. And so I move to the rhythm of lapping waves, feathers falling, leaves skipping across pavement.
The art community energizes me, and last Saturday was the heart of the cinnamon bun where the swirls are dense with soft buttery goodness. Here’s why:
On Saturday I went to the local market at The Factory in the Warehouse District, a new space (6+ acres of space!) for art, music, food trucks, performers, and poetry! Maureen McDole, founder and director of Keep St. Pete Lit (who is also my friend and upstairs neighbor), showed me the new Keep St. Pete LIT Word Garden! It’s charming and spacious, with stringed lights and the ground covered in tiny seashells and circular tables. There’s also a Word Book Box so families can have access to culturally inclusive books for free!
Sometime early next year there will be special youth events on Friday nights. I’m a teacher for Keep St. Pete Lit, so I have the privilege of working with many young St. Pete writers and I will tell you, these kids stun me and blow me away week after week. I am beyond thrilled there is now a space for them to shine.
On Sunday, I rode my bike to Community Poetry that my friend Denzel Johnson-Green hosts at the new Black Crow in the Grand Central District. Every Saturday from 3-5 poets gather outside for poetry. Denzel always has thoughtful prompts and writing samples that generate important discussions on topics such as love, loss, division, racism, privilege, colorism, classism, trauma in our bodies, and more. Denzel is also the creator of Neptune Magazine, which features St. Pete poets and artists. Copies are only $5 and to get yours, just email Denzel at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Here’s the striking cover from November’s issue:
Here’s a quick list of a few poetry events in the city:
Community Poetry, hosted by Denzel Johnson- Green: Every Sunday, 3-4:30 Black Crow, 2157 1st Ave S.
Poetry Readings at the Dali, hosted by Helen Wallace: Every second Thursday of the month (now virtual due to COVID on the Dali You Tube Channel)
Studio 620 Open Mic, hosted by Maureen McDole, Denzel Johnson- Green, and myself: The last Wednesday of every month, now virtual on Studio 620’s Facebook page
Poetry Conversation Hour hosted my Maureen McDole, Denzel Johnson-Green, and myself: every third Wednesday at 7 on the Studio 620’s Facebook page.
Thank you for reading and I wish you a happy holiday season that’s rich and plump with Poetry. I hope your last chapter of 2020 is filled with so much love, gratitude, and connection.
–photo credit: Denzel Johnson-Green, taken at the Studio 620 where I featured in May 2018