Poetry Parley connects Alaska poetry community

Some poems are meant to be read, like Emily Dickinson’s others are meant to be performed, like Gil Scott Heron’s. At the Poetry Parley, a gathering of poets from all around Alaska, any poem is fair game.

“Six years ago, a group of people gathered together because Out North AK had some space, and I wanted to hear Allen Ginsberg out loud,” said Jonathan Minton, founder of the Parley.

Established in 2008, the Parley adopted a local poet with a marquee (famous) poet. Locals would perform their own and other’s work every third Wednesday of the month from 7-8:30 p.m. in the Out North Contemporary Art House.

After Out North shut down, the Parley has moved to the Hugi Lewis Gallery. Out North has reopened since, but the Parley has remained at the Hugi Lewis Gallery.

Elizabeth Thompson is a local poet who has performed at the Parley numerous times.

“There’s a lot of attendees that have a fabulous passion for poetry,” said Thompson.

The Poetry Parley celebrated its sixth anniversary earlier this month. Sandra Kleven, editor of Cirque, a literary journal and coordinator of the Parley, has been involved with the Parley since it began. A collection of her work, “Defiance Street: Poems and Other Writing,” was published last year.

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“The Parley is a satisfying endeavor,” said Kleven. “The education (received there) is as good as an extended college class.”

Featured local poets get to perform 30 minutes of their original work. Attendees from the community read poetry written by the featured famous poet.

“Their audience is always politely soaking up poetry,” said Thompson.

Local performers featured in the past include Elizabeth Thompson and poet and rapper Ethan Korpi Love. Featured marquee poets have included W.D. Snodgrass and T.S. Elliot.

The upcoming Parley will feature local poet Susanna Miller reading from her recently released collection, “Termination Dust.” The marquee poet will be Guggenheim fellow Larry Levis.

The Poetry Parley will take place from 7-8:30 p.m. on May 21 at the Hugi Lewis Gallery.