Lawrence group meets monthly to celebrate poetry

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A group of poetry enthusiasts meets each month at the Arts for Lawrence Theater at the Fort to celebrate the art of words, hear from Hoosier poets and authors and share their own poetry in a supportive group setting.

Joyce Eggleston is the Poets Laureate of Lawrence coordinator, and said the group was founded more than 10 years ago by Liza Hyatt, an art therapist who had an art studio on Franklin Street in Lawrence.

Eggleston became involved in the group in 2019, after she attended an exhibit that featured visual art made from pieces of paper with poetry written on them. She said she read every single poem in the art pieces, and then spoke with the artist.

“She told me about Poets Laureate and how I could come join them,” she said. “And so, I recited a poem to her and she said, ‘Oh, but you really don’t have to try out to join.’”

Eggleston participated as a member for a few years, but after Hyatt became too busy to continue as coordinator, Eggleston took over, scheduling authors and poets to present, and maintaining the group’s email list and newsletters.

Eggleston, 70, said she started writing poetry in her mid-40s after her children were pretty much grown up. She said she loves sharing her poetry with others, and the Poets Laureate group is full of willing and supportive listeners.

The group meets from 7 to 9 p.m. on the fourth Tuesday of each month in the upstairs conference room at the Theater at the Fort, 8920 Otis Ave. Eggleston said each meeting starts with a featured guest who gives a 45-minute presentation. She said finding guest poets hasn’t been a problem — many are in the group’s email list, and she generally is able to schedule guest speakers out several months.

“I always say in the email (newsletter), if you are an Indiana poet and you would like to be a guest poet and read from your works for the beginning 45 minutes of our meeting, and bring your books to sell, please let me know,” she said, adding that she sometimes reaches out to poets personally.

After the guest presentation and a short break, open-mic time allows anyone to share their own poems or read the work of a poet they admire.

“We have two poets — we always call everybody who comes a poet — two poets who come who don’t write poetry but who share poetry,” Eggleston said. “We go around the table, (and) some people don’t have anything that night and they’ll say they’ll pass tonight; they’re there to listen and enjoy the poetry.”

The next Poets Laureate of Lawrence meeting is 7 p.m. Feb. 27, and will feature award-winning poet, playwright and visual artist Lylanne Musselman, according to the Arts for Lawrence website. Meetings are open to the public. Anyone who wants to attend can enter the Theater at the Fort building through the back entrance closest to the musical swings and take the stairs or elevator to the second floor. Doors open at around 6:45 p.m.


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