River Poems

City Poet Laureate Puts Poems on Coffee
“River Poems” project brings poetry to the people during the month of April

COLUMBIA SC April 8, 2016 – The City of Columbia Poet Laureate Ed Madden is pleased to announce a new project in conjunction with National Poetry Month. Poems from eight Columbia-based poets about the rivers have been stamped on coffee sleeves to be distributed at area coffee shops, Drip (locations on Main and in Five Points) and Wired Goat (locations in The Vista and Chapin).

The Columbia-based poets that have provided poems for the project include Jennifer Bartell, Betsy Breen, Jonathan Butler, Bugsy Calhoun, Monifa Lemons Jackson, Len Lawson and Ray McManus as well as Ed Madden.

“As a project for the poet laureate, last year and this year both, we put poems on the buses. We had already decided the theme this year would be the river, because it is the theme for Indie Grits, but I think the flood added additional urgency to the theme,” says Madden. Along with the bus project, the second project this year was to put the poems on coffee sleeves. “We’ve been trying to think of ways to promote poetry in unexpected places, so coffee sleeves felt like a really obvious place to put poetry,” says Madden. “You can drink your morning cup and read a poem about where you live.”

April is National Poetry Month and over the past 20 years has become “the largest literary celebration in the world with schools, publishers, libraries, booksellers, and poets celebrating poetry’s vital place in our culture.”

The owner of Drip, Sean McCrossin explains why they participated, saying “I feel that one of the roles of a coffee shop is to offer a platform from which people can express themselves. That is why I was very excited when Lee from one Columbia asked us to be part of this project! Everyone in Columbia was effected by the flood (or knows someone that was) and to read what some of our great South Carolina poets had to write about it and have a good cup of coffee hopefully reminds us that art can express things that we sometimes are unable to express ourselves.”

from "I Told the Storm" by Bugsy Calhoun
from “I Told the Storm” by Bugsy Calhoun

Wired Goat owner, Jessamine Stone agreed to participate for a similar reason, saying “We got involved in the project to connect with our community and to raise awareness about the fantastic literary talent we have right here in South Carolina.”

The poets have come together to stamp the poems on over 10,000 coffee sleeves and the project will run through the full month at four different coffee shop locations.

Poetry on the COMET Announcement and Event

I’m pleased to announce that the poems collected for the project with The COMET have been posted up on the advertising area of the inside of the buses! Here are a few photos of some of the cards:

To celebrate this project, there will be an event titled “Poetry 101” held on November 1. A number of poets will be reading on COMET Route 101 North Main, rotating at select stops. After the rolling reading, the event will proceed at the Tapp’s Arts Center (1644 Main), where there will be light refreshments, and a poetry reading. Anyone who would like to ride along with the poets should report at the Sumter Street Transit Center (1780 Sumter) at 3:30pm. Limited seating, first come, first served.

One Columbia has also collected poems into a chapbook which will be free and available at the event on November 1 or at the One Columbia office (1219 Taylor Street).

As an added bonus, all rides on Route 101 North Main will be free to any riders all day on November 1!