In a quiet enclave of London’s Westminster Abbey there is a special place that honours some of the world’s greatest writers. It is fondly called Poets’ Corner. Many famous poets, playwrights, and novelists are commemorated here. But they’re all dead. We decided to use the name for our reading series — a series that celebrates gifted poets who are still very much alive.
In 2010, a poetry reading series called Poetic Justice was founded in New Westminster by Franci Louann and Candice James. Ms. Louann almost single-handedly ran the series until 2015 when she invited James Felton to be the new Manager.
In late 2017, we underwent a name change and Felton then relocated the series to downtown Vancouver. Poetic Justice morphed into Poets Corner (and yes, we deliberately omitted the apostrophe. 🙂 However, nothing has changed in our mission to invite and showcase top-notch writers who produce exceptionally good poetry. Poets are predominantly from the Greater Vancouver area but oftentimes out-of-town and out-of-province writers are invited, too.
To date, we have hosted over 600 poets.
We’re a monthly reading series that takes place on the third Wednesday evening of each month. Events are usually two hours, starting at 7:00 p.m. Occasionally we will host a special reading that will take place outside this schedule.
Poets Corner is a labour of love. Over two years ago, we landed a small Canada Council grant but we haven’t received outside funding since. We still, however, continue to apply for grants. Our events are free, but we do ask our audience members to consider a donation of $5. Door donations help to provide modest honoraria for our featured poets.
During our two-hour timeslot we offer up one of three types of readings:
- our standard format of two (sometimes three) featured poets plus an open mic segment
- a book launch
- a themed reading
Our standard format kicks off with 9 to 12 audience members, each having three minutes to deliver a poem or two during the open mic segment. We then follow up with two featured poets each having up to 25 minutes to read from their own work. Each reading is then followed by a five-minute Q & A session which has proven to be a big hit with our audiences.
For a book launch evening, we often work in concert with a publisher to help promote a poet’s recent or soon-to-be release. We have even had posthumous book launches. A merchandise table is usually set up so audience members can purchase a copy of the poet’s latest publication. As the host of the series, we do not share in any of the sales, but our host venue, Massy Books, takes a nominal percentage of each sale.
Our themed readings cover a broad spectrum of topics that we believe will prove popular with our audiences. In the past, we have delivered themed readings such as ‘Emerging Indigenous Poets’, ‘That 70s Show ~ Poets Turning 70 This Year’, and ‘An Ekphrastic Poetry Evening’. We select themes we believe will be of interest to people or that reflect the current zeitgeist.