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A Year with Poets’ Night Out


Our first meeting of the year is in March, all Poets’ Night Out meetings are one hour long.  We have an agenda and try to be as efficient as we can at every meeting.

In March we plan the Kick-off to our National Poetry Month reading, which is held on the first Saturday in April from 1:00 to 3:00.  We send out invitations via email and regular mail three weeks before the event to the winners of PNO from the previous year.  They are invited to read their winning poem and to bring other poems to read during the open mic part of the program.   We also put up posters three weeks before the event to invite the general public to come, to listen and to share their original poetry during the open mic time.  Press releases are sent to the local media before the event too.  We always provide simple snacks, hot tea and water.

The Poetry Month event is a celebration of poetry.  We always enjoy the relaxed atmosphere and camaraderie of everyone involved.  We use this event to announce the date of the upcoming PNO and to answer questions people may have.


We begin the work toward the November 7th, 2010 PNO program five months ahead of time. We go over all of our forms, fees and procedures.  We have two forms for the general public, a page we call The Rules and a Submission Form.  For the school we have a page for the teachers and a classroom submission form, plus a page of individual student submission forms, in case the teacher has the students fill out the forms themselves. Our fees for the last several years have been $10.00 for adult submissions of up to three poems or a total of 96 lines, $5.00 for students and seniors a total of 96 lines.  For classroom group submissions we charge $1.00 for one poem up to 32 lines.

Each year PNO requires 2 posters and the chapbook cover. A Call for Poetry Poster goes out in midAugust, then a poster for the program goes out in midOctober. We are lucky to have a very talented graphic designer on our steering committee.  He usually shows us his ideas for posters and the chapbook cover in July and then emails them to me just before they go out to the community.


At the August meeting the steering committee members take the Call for Poetry posters and begin putting them up in mid-August.  We each have different areas we cover and people who help us.  The forms for the schools, the envelopes and the posters are assembled and mailed early in September as schools start after Labor Day in Michigan.  The library pays for the mailing and the printing of the PNO material and for my time.  We begin taking submissions on September 1st and the deadline is usually the first Friday in October.


In October we meet twice as this is our busiest PNO month. The poems are always due on a Friday.  This evolved over time, I learned that some poets are huge procrastinators, so I have the poems due on a Friday, but I take everything that comes in until the end of the day Monday.  I don’t advertise my rolling due date, but it saves me having to reject classroom poems as well as many individual entries.  The poetry is either turned in at the Circulation Desk at the library or mailed.  I put a box down near the desk and the circ staff piles the entries into it.


Our committee meets as soon as we can after Poets’ Night Out to discuss any problems, changes and to talk about what worked well.  We take a break for the holidays and begin our PNO year again in March.

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