'First City Poetry Reads' series takes flight July 29

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The Spoken Word Committee of Watermark Art Center introduces "First City Poetry Reads," a new series that will take place in unique and nontraditional literary spaces around Bemidji.

The series is designed to bring poetry to new venues and listeners in and around the first city on the Mississippi, adding a unique source of energy, interest and creativity to the spoken word. Each event will feature a local or regional poet, followed by short readings by other area authors.

The inaugural event will be held Saturday, July 29 at 2 p.m. at the Bemidji Regional Airport.

The event is free and open to the public.

Local poet, essayist and playwright Cate Belleveau will be the featured poet. The reading will take place in Bemidji Aviation's main hangar, just west of the main terminal.

Belleveau will reference some of the writers who have inspired her — Gertrude Stein, Garrison Keillor, and Willa Cather, among others — and will talk about the various journeys that have influenced her work: trips to to Bolivia, New Zealand, Kyrgyzstan and elsewhere.

An open mic for other area poets will follow Belleveau's reading, expanding on the theme of flight and adventure. Audience members are invited to share original poetry that focuses on the theme.

The evening will conclude with a drawing for a free scenic plane ride for two by local poet and pilot Marsh Muirhead.

This is the first of several such readings in "First City Poetry Reads."

"We're very excited to begin such an interesting and fun series," said Watermark Executive Director Lori Forshee-Donnay. "Collaborating with Marsh Muirhead, the Spoken Word Committee has found a very creative way to promote poetry within our community. We appreciate all their hard work and can't wait to see each of these events unfold."

The next event in the series will be at the Bemidji Fire Department on Aug. 19 and will feature Park Rapids poet LouAnn Muhm on the theme of "Rescue and Disaster."

September's event will be on the 16th at Cantabria Coffee Company's patio, with CarolAnn

Russell as the featured poet. Her theme is "Around the World to Downtown Bemidji."

The First City Poetry Reads schedule includes future events at the Beltrami County History Center, Anytime Fitness, Sanford Hospital, Lake Bemidji State Park and more. Each event is a one-hour program with a theme tied to the event location. All are free and open to the public.

Anyone interested in pre-registering to read can contact Marsh Muirhead at 218-556-6313 or mgmuirhead@midco.net. Poets are asked to keep their reading to three minutes and provide family-friendly content. To learn more, visit watermarkartcenter.org under "Programs, Spoken Word Series."