Each spring for the last eight years, Adirondack Center for Writing has invited anyone living in the North Country to send us a poem. We encourage everyone to join the fun, from accomplished, professional writers to budding novices who have never before shared their writing. We then publish those poems on beautiful 11 x 17 broadside posters and install them in nearly every window in the village of Saranac Lake, NY. We also publish every poem on our website and social media.
Why do we do this project every year?
- PoemVillage brings community and confidence to poets of all experience levels
- PoemVillage beautifies the village during the grey, cold, rainy “mud-season”
- PoemVillage encourages visitors to come to Saranac Lake during its quietest month of the year
- (Selfish reason…) We love poetry. Period.
In 2023, we published a record number of poets: 170 in total. This included award-winning author Joe Bruchac (the current poet laureate of Saratoga Springs), dozens of poets of various experience and age levels, as well as two classes of local 4th graders. All mud-season long, we had the pleasure of catching passersby and visitors to Saranac Lake slow their stroll, pause at a window, and read poetry. Many people toured town this way, reading dozens of poems, one after another.
We also publish the poems on pocket-sized cards that are handed out to customers at local banks as well as to patients on their meal trays at Adirondack Medical Center.
When it comes to the students who send us poems, ACW invites the teachers to bring their classes to Saranac Lake to tour Poem Village and visit ACW. With the high school classes from Northwood School (Lake Placid) and Norwood-Norfolk Central School (Potsdam) who visited, we led them through a workshop on collaborative writing, showing them how poets borrow from one another in order to build community and connection across great distances of time and space. Students were asked to select a line in someone else’s poem that they particularly connect with, and then use it as the title for a new poem of their own. We read poems by Frank O’Hara, Roger Reeves, Ocean Vuong, and Claire Schwartz to see how professional poets have paid homage to each other in this same way over the last century.
When the 4th graders from Petrova Elementary visited, we held a reading at the podium in ACW, giving these students the chance to put their voice to their words. The event was full of laughs and great energy from readers and listeners alike.
We look forward to doing this program again in 2024. We’ll open for submissions in January, and close near the end of March. ACW would love to visit your local high school to lead workshops on poetry writing and talk about the joy that is Poem Village. Just email Tyler: firstname.lastname@example.org
To hear what others are saying about PoemVillage, check out some regional media about the project:
- “Inspiring Joy in Others: ACW’s Poem Village” in Lake Champlain Weekly (April, 2023)
- “Fourth Graders read Poetry at ACW” in Adirondack Daily Enterprise (May, 2023)
And lastly, Poem Village could not happen without the support of our consistent annual sponsors: ArtyLadyMsD, Adirondack Health, Geomatics Land Surveying, Hotel Saranac, Play ADK, and Spencer Boatworks.