Homer writers to present favorite poems in library event

The event is inspired and coordinated by Homer author Jessica Golden

April is National Poetry Month and Homer residents can experience the art and sound of poetry at the Friends of the Homer Public Library’s “Our Favorite Poems” performance event at the Homer Public Library on Thursday, April 6 from 6-7:30 p.m.

The free event is inspired and coordinated by Homer author Jessica Golden. Readers include several Homer authors and poets, who were each asked to choose a favorite poem for the reading. The selections include international content from the United States, Canada, South Africa, Ireland, the United Kingdom and Chile.

Golden, who has worked in journalism and public media in the past, shared what motivated her idea for the collaborative event.

“My mother passed away in November and she was a profound lover of poetry. As she was passing, I thought about how I was going to say goodbye and I decided to do that by reading her one of her favorite poems,” she said. “I spent a lot of time digging through her favorite poems and gave me the opportunity to cry and laugh at the things that inspired her.”

This led her to consider the Robert Pinsky “Favorite Poem Project.” When Golden was an undergraduate literature student at the University of Alaska in Anchorage, she had the opportunity to interview him when she worked with ‘The Northern Light,” the campus student-run newspaper. From 1997 to 2000, Pinsky served as poet laureate for the United States.

“One of the things that he really emphasized in that interview was how essential poetry is to a healthy citizenship and that poetry is the locus where we can find a common sense of humanity and where we engage in what it means to be a good moral citizen as an individual and what our responsibility to others are,” she said.

She expressed that poetry is a literature field accessible to all social and economic sectors of community.

“It’s not necessarily elitist or snobby. It can be a very working-class thing,” she said.

Around the holidays, Golden heard about a poetry reading organized in Seward and it inspired her put something together here as an opportunity for Homer residents to experience some of what Pinsky emphasized — the chance to dissolve social boundaries by hearing poetry in a social setting.

“I wanted to create a space where a person who was excited about a poem could have the opportunity to read and share it and I hope we’ll be able to continue this as a local tradition after this first performance,” she said.

Cheryl Illg with Friends of the Homer Public Library said the event was conceived as something that could be for people of all ages.

“I know Golden reached out to the middle and high school to see if she could find participants from there,” Illg said.

Readers on Thursday will include Wendy Erd, Anne Coray, Sarah Brewer, Ken Castner, Mercedes Harness, Ilsa Golden, Maggie Quarton, Doug Bailey, Linda Martin, Carol Dee, Bill Noomah, Nancy Lord, Marcia Kuszmaul, Amy Woodruff and Peter Norton.

Additional poetry events at the Homer Public Library this month are an author’s talk on Friday, April 21 with Homer’s Peter Kaufman and his book “The Round Whisper of No Moon,” published in November of 2022, and a two-day bookmaking workshop during which participants will create their own poetry on April 13 and 20. More information for workshop registration is available at https://www.cityofhomer-ak.gov/library/box-poems-accordion-book-box-workshop.

Emilie Springer can be reached at emilie.springer@homernews.com.