Sunday, September 29, 2013

Benicia's Poem Homes

A program of: * Benicia Poet Laureate * Benicia Public Library * and volunteers of the First Tuesday Poetry Group, meets monthly, 6:30 to 9pm at the Benicia Public Library, Welcome To All.
Sponsored by with discount printing by Paper Tiger Printing.

"Poet seeks new voices, visions to fill Benicia’s ‘Poem Homes’"
by Donna Beth Weilenman from "Benicia Herald" newspaper []:
The vacancy sign is out at Poem Homes, the boxes placed throughout Benicia where passersby can pull out copies of verse they can take home and keep or share with others, said Jady Montgomery, project manager.
Montgomery is asking area poets to contribute up to four submissions for the fall-winter “edition” of the Poem Homes.
That edition isn’t compiled into a book. Instead, the poems are copied and placed in the boxes that resemble those used by real estate firms to promote living spaces for rent and sale.
The Poem Homes project was initiated in 2010 by Ronna Leon during her term as Benicia’s poet laureate, as part of her mission to encourage the public to read more poetry.
Once Leon proposed it, Montgomery decided to volunteer her time to help with the project.
She said Renee Jordan Real Estate picks up the cost of printing, and copyright remains with the poet. The poet also specifies how his or her name should appear on the page.
Segments of long poems are accepted, and if poems have been published they can be accompanied by a note mentioning the book title, publisher or other poem source information, she said.
As the program manager, Montgomery not only makes sure the boxes are filled, she also reads prospective poems, making sure their content is suitable for the community. “I only vet a little bit for public ‘appropriateness,’” she said.
As for some of the earlier editions, she said, “Most others have been (written by) Benicia residents — usually members associated with First Tuesday Poetry. But I want to reach beyond that group!”
Past editions have welcomed poems from writers throughout California as well as from Benicia, and when Leon first announced the project other past and present poet laureates readily contributed some of their works.
One recent edition of Poem Homes featured favorite poems chosen and contributed by residents. But there is no theme for the fall and winter selections, Montgomery said.
“Just poems for The Commons — and they have to fit on one page,” she said.
She’s asked Mike Kendall to include her request for poems in his communication with Benicia’s arts community, and said she is hoping to receive submissions from a variety of writers.
She explained, “It’s not really a First Tuesday project. It’s a project Ronna started when she was poet laureate. Peter Bray has installed and replaced all the boxes over the three years.”
The project has given people free access to poetry simply by opening boxes at Benicia Public Library, 150 East L St.; Southampton Community Park (Chelsea Hills Drive at Panorama Drive); Benicia’s first community garden at the intersection of Military East and East Second Street; and in an English classroom at Benicia High School, Montgomery said.
Project volunteers estimate that between 5,000 and 6,000 poems have been printed so far for the project. There’s no official tally on how many are picked up, but Montgomery said, “Well, the boxes (are) empty, that’s all I know.”
She said on rare occasions the boxes have been raided by vandals, “but not that often.” That most of the poems are picked up by those who appreciate the verses “amazes me, really,” she said.
And she’s happy to make sure those poetry fans get more verses to read.
“I’m currently compiling a new edition, and would like to find some new poets in town,” she said. “I know they’re out there.”
Those who want to share their poetry may email Jady Montgomery at

by Jady Montgomery []:
Poet Friends & Friends of Poets,
We are seeking submissions for our Fall/Winter Edition of Benicia's Poem Homes.  This is a great way to get exposure for your own poems (or those of other poets you know), and to also contribute to this unique, literary "Commons."
Can you contribute to our poetry Commons?  If so, please send up to four poems that have NOT been part of the poem homes before (including poems from the last First Tuesday Anthology).    30-40 lines maximum.
Send poems pasted into an email or as a Word doc attachment via email (one document with multiple poems, or separate docs -- whichever is easier for you). Either way, we have to cut and paste them into the template (sample here).  
Include your name at the bottom of each poem.  Feel free to add any of these: copyright/date, literary title if appropriate (Poet Laureate, Former Poet Laureate), your web address, location. The Poem Home template reiterates that copyright stays with the author.   
Send poems via email to:
The Poem Homes, started by Ronna Leon, are unique to Benicia.  Our new poet laureate, Lois Requist, would like to keep the program going. In order to do that we need:

1) Poems -- We need about 80 poems minimum  to create a master collection, for each edition, which we change about every three or four months
2) Funding -- to pay for copies - about $40.00 a month average, depending on the time of year.  (Renee Jordan, of Jordan Real Estate in Benicia, said
yes some months ago to our request for funding the copying costs. We are so grateful to her sponsorship.

3) Editing and "Publishing" Tasks --  finding or receiving poems, formatting them onto the template, getting them printed
(Tiger Printing provides discount printing at 5 cents a copy - again, we are grateful). 

4) Stocking the Homes -- I'm currently looking for partners to help with this.  So far I have one high school student , Jose Duran, who sent in a poem and is
willing to help with stocking. 

Please contact Jady Montgomery with any questions -  Send poems to:

An example published for 2013-10, for the Poem Home at the Community Garden on lower First Street.

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