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Karen Schoemer Photo submitted

Sharing poetry while isolated

COPAKE — At a time when many may feel isolated and alone due to the COVID-19 pandemic,  the Roeliff Jansen Community Library’s Virtual Poetry Open Mic Night, hosted by Copake published poet Karen Schoemer,  planned for Saturday, April 18, from 5 to 6:30 p.m., might be just what the doctor ordered.

The Zoom session is open to all — whether experienced or first-time poets or poetry lovers who would simply like to share a favorite piece. 

Schoemer, who has recently become active with an Albany poetry group, believes the reading is coming at an especially appropriate time. 

“A lot of members of the group have started responding to the crisis,” she said. “I definitely think poets are all over it… It involves so many things that poetry is so on top of with issues of connection and isolation and the kind of emotional level of how we go through the day. So I feel like a lot of poets are jumping right on it.”

She mentioned a “very funny poem about not being able to get toilet paper” and another about “love in the time of the pandemic.”

For people who are using newly found free time to explore poetry but who might be a bit shy about sharing their work, Schoemer has encouraging words. She noted that when she ran a poetry workshop two years ago at the Chatham Public Library “a couple of the participants were not regular poetry writers — and they were both marvelous. I think… everybody has the ability to express themselves in writing. Often people who aren’t used to doing it are far better at it than they think.”

She believes that new writers may have a simple way of expressing themselves that can be quite moving.

“Everyone has poetry in them and the minute you are willing to share that, you’ve already kind of broken down the reserve that all of us have,” said Schoemer. “It’s so gratifying as a listener to be brought into that. What they think is always valuable.”

While she doesn’t believe a virtual reading “quite replaces being there in person,” the poet said at this time, when meeting in the flesh is out of the question, “it’s a really good alternative.” 

To access the Zoom event, go to http://www.roejanlibrary.org/adult-programs/.

Roe Jan Library Director Tamara Gaskell said readings should be limited to 5 minutes. Those who do not plan to read need not register, but those wishing to read should register by Friday, April 17, at director@roejanlibrary.org.

Gaskell added that to encourage writing during April’s National Poetry Month, patrons may email her to receive a poem-a-day prompt from published poet Jan Hutchinson of Bard College. The writers involved in the program may share their work at the end of the month.

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