Springfield: Poetry Magazine in Springfield

April 3, 2013

 SPRINGFIELD, IL—POETRY Magazine, the English-speaking world’s oldest magazine devoted to verse—and arguably its most prestigious—is traveling to Springfield to celebrate National Poetry Month. National Poetry Month was established in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets and is held every year in April, intended as a national celebration of poetry and its vital place in American culture. Valerie Jean Johnson of POETRY Magazine will arrive in the state capitol Thursday, April 25, to lead a panel discussion and National Poetry Month celebration titled “[Why] Does Poetry Matter?” The event will take place at 7 p.m. in the Brinkerhoff Home on the Benedictine University campus in Springfield. It is free and open to the public, and refreshments will be served.

Another National Poetry Month event is a special workshop for Springfield-area university students titled “Rhymer-Designers,” after the Springfield poet Vachel Lindsay, who gained international acclaim as a performance poet in the early twentieth century. Often referred to as the first American Troubadour Poet, Lindsay’s first published poem appeared in POETRY Magazine. Johnson, who has won awards for her own performative work, will lead the workshop in which students will learn how to devise, develop, and stage their own performance readings. The workshop will take place at the University of Illinois Springfield over two days: Thursday, April 25, from 2 to 5 p.m. and Friday, April 26, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The workshop is free and open to Springfield-area university students. Space is limited, and students can reserve their spots by contacting quiddity@ben.edu.

Additionally, a performance of student poetry will be held Friday, April 26, at 7 p.m. at the Vachel Lindsay Home State Historic Site. The public performance will feature works from the “Rhymer-Designer” workshops facilitated by Johnson. Each of the events is sponsored by Benedictine University, the University of Illinois Springfield, the Vachel Lindsay Association, and Quiddity International Literary Journal and Public-Radio Program. The universities and organizations teamed up to bring the events to the Springfield community as part of National Poetry Month. One of the goals of National Poetry Month is to introduce more Americans to the pleasures of reading poetry. According to the Academy, thousands of organizations participate in National Poetry Month through readings, festivals, book displays, workshops, and other events sponsored by schools, publishers, libraries, booksellers, and individuals throughout the United States.

Valerie Jean Johnson is the managing editor of POETRY magazine, which is published by the Poetry Foundation. Also a writer and director, Johnson’s most recent stage work was 2011’s “All Your Paths in a Single Pocket,” a collaborative performance inspired by and sourced from Anna Kamienska’s “Notebooks” as translated by Clare Cavanagh . She is the recipient of the 2002 KC/ACTF National 10-minute Play Award and the Dad’s Garage Theatre’s 8½ x 11 Playwrighting Residency. A graduate of the University of Northern Iowa, she was a contributing performance writer with New City from 2006-2011, served as a production intern at Richard Foreman's Ontological-Hysteric Theatre in NYC, and has trained with Goat Island, SITI Company, Chicago Dramatists, and Perishable Theatre.


Quiddity in partnership with WUIS, NPR member and PRI affiliate Benedictine University at Springfield

About Quiddity: Springfield and the Sangamon Valley enjoy a lush literary tradition. Quiddity’s international journal and public-radio program seek to build and expand upon that tradition—not only seeking work from a wide and diverse pool of writers around the globe—but also by serving the community in which Quiddity is housed. Springfield’s Quiddity is the result of a unique partnership between Benedictine University and WUIS.

From the Editor: The arts have an exquisite capacity to engender moments of keen understanding— moments that can happen across time, culture, and distance, coalescing these into a distillate spark of acute discernment. As such, Quiddity has deep regard for and is profoundly grateful to its readers, audience, and contributors, without whom our charge would be without quiddity. ~Joanna Beth Tweedy