Brinkman passionate about poetry as public art form

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By Laura Anderson

Joyce Brinkman began writing poetry at age 9 and has not stopped.

Brinkman has long been an avid advocate for poetry. The Zionsville resident said poetry should be a public art form and has spent her entire adult life leading the way.

Joyce Brinkman pauses in SullivanMunce Cultural Center, where Brick Street Poetry holds readings. (Photo by Laura Anderson)

She was Indiana’s Poet Laureate from 2002 to 2008. She said the distinction “is not about being the best poet, but about being the best ambassador for poetry.”

As an ambassador, she worked with Martin Donlin, a British artist, to install a 25-foot stained glass poem at Indianapolis International Airport. She also made poetry a part of the IndyGo bus system by putting poems on city buses. The projects punctuate her mantra that “poetry belongs everywhere.”

Brinkman most recently received a grant from the Indiana Arts Commission to turn 100 of her poems about the moon into a watercolor series. The project was inspired by 13th century poetry and her love of the moon.

“There are a lot of intelligent creatures out there, but we are the only creature that can write,” Brinkman said. “Writing is the most human thing you can do.”

Brinkman regards it her duty to write because poets “are the scribes of the earth.”

Brinkman is the program chair of Brick Street Poetry, a nonprofit whose mission is to connect individuals through poetry. She also helps conduct the organization’s monthly readings, which take place at 7 p.m. on the first Thursday each month at the SullivanMunce Cultural Center in Zionsville.

Brinkman enjoys writing on her own butalso collaborates with poets from around the world. She worked with poets from Germany, Mexico, France and Japan to create a book of poetry, “Seasons of Sharing.” She said knowing poets from around the world is “a wonderful thing.”

Since 2008, Brinkman also has collaborated on poetry projects with photographers, farmers, artists and even the orangutans at the Indianapolis Zoo. She read poetry to the orangutans about the sun and the moon.

In October of 2018, Brinkman worked with the Eiteljorg Museum on its Cowboys and Cocktails event, where participants wrote poems about cocktails.

One of the goals of the event was to highlight how history can inspire modern-day writing.

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