Portland Center Stage Portland Oregon Events

Ode to summer: Manzanita’s Hoffman Center for the Arts sponsors poetry walk

On July 9, poets will read their work around town, and the event culminates with a July 31 reading by Oregon Poet Laureate Anis Mojgani.

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Last year with COVID-19 still limiting life, the Hoffman Center for the Arts in Manzanita had a decision to make. They could cancel the annual fundraiser, or they could come up with something safer. In this case, a walking tour of tiny galleries of paintings and pottery. You might say it was go little or go home.

Organizers opted for the latter and saw the largest number of visitors ever — 681 — to the center for July as people walked the tour through Manzanita, then dropped in at the center to buy raffle tickets. (Organizers note guests were also drawn by some pretty awesome art inside the center.)

This year, COVID considerations still weighing heavily, they decided to take the fundraiser outside again. Poetry Walk 2022 will include 15 poems – odes and haikus – mounted, framed, and posted at community-partner sites and Hoffman Center business sponsors along Laneda Avenue.

“We’ve had business sponsors over the years,” said Janice Slonecker Berman, development committee chair for the center. “We’re grateful for their financial support and this is a way we can recognize that. Some of our sponsors have even opted to host pop-up events. I almost envision poets caroling through town.”

“Ode to the Beach House” is one of 15 poems that will be displayed along Laneda Avenue as part of the Manzanita poetry walk.

The center invited nine local poets to submit up to three poems each. Invited poets included those who had attended poetry workshops at the center or published in its publications and were regular visitors or part- or full-time residents of the Manzanita area.

“We asked them to respond to one or more of three prompts: in praise of aspects of Manzanita (ode), odes to ordinary things, or vacation haikus,” said Vera Wildauer, lead writer for the center’s writing program. She explained they were shooting for 15 poems and developed a ranking system for submissions. “We were committed to having at least one poem from each poet.  Once we ranked them, we did switch a few around, in order to include a wide array of styles, topics, and forms.”

Maps will be available for visitors to find their way to each poem, and on July 9, seven of the featured poets on the Poetry Walk will be positioned by their poem to read it, as well as a few others not featured on the walk. Poets will be scheduled so that listeners can wander from site to site and have the chance to hear all the poets.  Readings are  scheduled to start at 10:30 a.m. at the Visitors Center and will continue every half hour for about 15 minutes per reading, ending in the Hoffman Center’s Wonder Garden.

Framed copies of the poems, mounted on 18-by-24-inch waterproof posters will be raffled off, with tickets $10 each.

Anis Mojgani, Oregon Poet Laureate
Anis Mojgani, Oregon poet laureate, will read from his work July 31 in Manzanita.

The poetry walk also provides an opportunity to hear Oregon Poet Laureate Anis Mojgani read from his work. Mojgani will be in the Wonder Garden at 1 p.m. July 31. The reading is free, but registration is required. A two-time individual champion of the National Poetry Slam and winner of the International World Cup Poetry Slam, Mojgani is the author of five books of poetry and has done commissions for the Getty Museum and the Peabody Essex Museum, and his work has appeared on HBO, National Public Radio, and as part of the Academy of American Poets Poem-A-Day series.

Lori Tobias is a journalist of many years, and was a staff writer for The Oregonian for more than a decade, and a columnist and features writer for the Rocky Mountain News. Her memoir “Storm Beat – A Journalist Reports from the Oregon Coast” was published in 2020 by Oregon State University press. She is also the author of the novel Wander, winner of the 2017 Nancy Pearl Book Award for literary fiction and a finalist for the 2017 International Book Awards for new fiction. She lives on the Oregon Coast with her husband Chan and rescue pups Luna and Monkey.

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