San Marcos launches monthly poetry bulletin celebrating diverse voices

The San Marcos Public Library seeks poetry from community for its inaugural issue titled Everybody In! Photo by Jason Cook

Every person has poetry within them, and the San Marcos Public Library would like to read yours. Through a new monthly poetry bulletin “When the River Speaks,” the SMPL invites San Marcos area residents of any age to submit their original poetry to be collected into a monthly edition, the first of which is themed, “Everybody In!”

“The idea is a way for the community to come together and communicate through poems and art,” said Deborah Carter, SMPL librarian, “We’re publishing it out of the library, but it lives in the community.”

The mission of When the River Speaks is to highlight the talent in the San Marcos community and celebrate the diversity of our voice. To that end, WTRS encourages writers of all experienced levels and backgrounds to submit.

“It’s very open,” Carter said. “Part of the philosophy of this publication is that we want to include everyone, and allow people to tap into their creativity in making art. The work — the poems and the artwork — can be about how we include everyone. If we were going to have a party, we want to invite anyone.”

The idea for the poetry bulletin came about when publishing members began to talk about how disconnected and alone they felt during the time of quarantine, and how they might foster a sense of connection within the community.

For Carter, an audiobook about the Cuban Revolution provided inspiration. “I was thinking about communication during difficult times. Traditional media not really being able to always capture what we need to communicate,” she said. “When things broke down, people started communicating through poems.”

Poet and WTRS publishing member, Diann McCabe, wanted to participate in the project as a way to do something positive for the community. “It’s a hopeful thing. Right now, we can all use a creative project.”

Fellow poet and visual artist Mike Hannon, also a publishing member, added, “Poems can definitely help you when you’re not feeling safe.”

“I think of it as a community connection,” McCabe said, “to read your neighbors and people across town, to read their words and know what they’re dealing with right now.”

As When the River Speaks continues to grow, the publishing members hope to expand the publication to include other events in addition to the publication. Organizer Jehnny Oh said, “The point of the publication I envisioned was a magazine or monthly publication for the community to submit their artwork and poetry. Having a centralized place that th community knows, it’s going be a regular thing. It will serve to bring the communi together. We’ll have open mic nights, a calendar of events … really just a way to bring everybody together.”

Original poems from people of all ages in the SMPL service area are invited to submit original poems incorporating this theme to submissions4wtrs@gmail. com for possible publication. Poems in languages other than English are also welcome. Poets may also post their work on the When the River Speaks Facebook page to have their work considered.

Deadline for all submissions is Sept. 30.

Written by Celeste Hollister

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