Poetry Coalition: Organizing around Themes of Social Importance

A circle of hands, palms up, of different skin tones

"What Is It, Then, Between Us?": Poetry and Democracy

Each March, members of the National Poetry Coalition present special programming focused on a shared theme of social importance. This year, we’re exploring “What Is It, Then, Between Us?: Poetry and Democracy.” 

Dodge Poetry hosted a free, public event on March 23rd focusing on this topic. 

You can watch videos of the evening readings here.

Poetry & Democracy in Morristown, New Jersey on March 23, 2019 

“What Is It then Between Us?: Poetry and Democracy”
March 23rd, 2019
Downtown Morristown, NJ
With break-out sessions between 1:00 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.
And an evening performance from 6:30 p.m.- 8:00 p.m.

Poets, Performers and Panelists include: Janet Aalfs • Jan BeattyReginald Dwayne BettsCortney Lamar CharlestonCatherine DotyRigoberto González  • New Jersey Institute for Social JusticeJoe WeilRachel WileyWind of the Spirit - Immigrant Resource Center • and music by the Parkington Sisters  

Click here to read short bios for all of the poets and special guests.

Participants will choose from sessions occurring throughout the afternoon, taking place in several downtown Morristown venues, including the Mayo Performing Arts Centerthe Morristown & Morris Township LibrarySt. Peter’s Episcopal Church and Church of the Redeemer 

The afternoon sessions will include short readings by several poets followed by group conversation, small panel discussions, and writing activities.  

Afternoon readings and conversation topics include youth incarceration and voting rights for previously incarcerated citizens; LGBTQ rights; immigration; the working poor and others.   

The evening’s music and poetry performance, “In Praise: a Thousand Ways to Kneel and Kiss the Earth,” will celebrate gratitude across boundaries of race, creed, sexual orientation, ethnicity and gender. 

You can read descriptions of the afternoon sessions and evening event here.

Full Schedule: Please note that locations for each session will be provided when you check-in. 




12:00-1:00 pm

Check-In at the Morristown & Morris Township Library  

 1:00-2:30 pm

Ain't I a Child?: A Conversation on Juvenile Justice

Reading & Conversation

New Jersey Institute for Social Justice and Reginald Dwayne Betts

New Jersey's Unseen: The Working Poor

Reading & Conversation

Jan Beatty, Catherine Doty and Joe Weil

Pride & Poetry: LGBTQ Rights

Reading & Conversation

Janet Aalfs, Rigoberto Gonzalez and Rachel Wiley

The Stakes of Erasure

Writing Activity

Cortney Lamar Charleston

3:00-4:30 pm

Borderlands: Immigrant Stories & Rights

Reading & Conversation

Wind of the Spirit Immigrant Resource Center and Rigoberto Gonzalez

The Skin That You're Living In

Reading & Conversation

Reginald Dwayne Betts, Cortney Lamar Charleston and khalil murrell

Organize! Poetry & Activism

Reading & Conversation

Janet Aalfs, Jan Beatty, Joe Weil and Rachel Wiley

Class Dismissed

Writing Activity

Catherine Doty

6:30-8:00 pm

In Praise: A Hundred Ways to Kneel and Kiss the Earth

Celebration, Reading & Music

Janet Aalfs, Jan Beatty, Reginald Dwayne Betts, Cortney Lamar Charleston, Catherine Doty, Rigoberto Gonzalez, Joe Weil, Rachel Wiley and musicians the Parkington Sisters


Previous Poetry Coalition Programming 

In March 2018, the National Poetry Coalition launched Where My Dreaming and My Loving Live: Poetry & the Body, taken from a line in the Tracy K. Smith poem "Flores Woman." As part of this initiative, the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Program launched the month-longWhose Body? Project. Dodge Poetry featured eight video posts (two per week), of poets using poetry to approach the question “Whose Body?” from any perspective they chose. You can visit our Tumblr to view the videos of readings by poets C. Bain, Jericho Brown, Rigoberto Gonzalez, Ada Limón, Joseph Millar, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Priscilla Orr and Rachel Wiley.  

To culminate this month of Poetry & the Body, we hosted the Whose Body? Celebration and Reclamationevent in Princeton, New Jersey, featuring a diverse group of poets in a day of performances, readings, conversations and writing activities approaching the question from many points of view. Featured performers included:C. Bain • Kay Ulanday Barrett  • Mahogany L. Browne • Robert Carnevale • Cortney Charleston • Ona Gritz • Nicole Homer • Priscilla Orr • JC Todd • Margaret Waldock • Rachel Wiley 

In March 2017each organization in the Poetry Coalition presented programs and projects on the theme of migration, under the title Because We Come from Everything: Poetry & Migration. As part of this initiative, the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Program hosted a special event that featured documentary film, visual art and poetry speaking to the theme of migration in the natural world 

Follow along:

#PoetryCoalition #PoetryandDemocracy