A long-beloved art form, poetry is kept alive in Gig Harbor through the Poetry Readings series held at the Gig Harbor Pierce County Library.
Doug Murphy has been organizing the readings since 2008, when he attended a reading from Washington state’s first poet laureate, Sam Green.
The Friends of the Library agreed to sponsor the event and gave Murphy a budget to bring in local poets for readings throughout the year.
“I feel kind of like poets are a little disrespected in our society,” he said. “I believe they should get a paycheck. For them to come and do a reading is a performance.”
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I feel kind of like poets are a little disrespected in our society. I believe they should get a paycheck. For them to come and do a reading is a performance.
Murphy focuses on local poets, those from the Pacific Northwest or those with a strong tie to the area.
Terri May, an adult services librarian, said that programs such as the Poetry Readings are a way for the library to engage with their adult patrons in the community.
“As time went on we realized that we can’t just serve children, we have to have more ways to serve adults,” May said. “So we started expanding our programming.”
A big reason for Murphy to continue scheduling the readings, even as attendance fluctuates, is to make poetry more accessible to people.
“Historically, poets spoke to people in cultures all over the world and were highly respected,” Murphy said. “Now there’s this kind of feeling that the language they speak is not understandable to the average person, and I think nothing’s further from the truth.”
Historically, poets spoke to people in cultures all over the world and were highly respected. Now there’s this kind of feeling that the language they speak is not understandable to the average person and I think nothings’s further from the truth.
Attending a poetry reading can bring a poem to life more so than reading it on a page, because the poet will provide context and background to help the readers understand their mindset while creating the piece.
“To me, poets are musicians with words instead of instruments,” Murphy said. “I just like them to have a venue, I know how hard they work.”
A pride of the program for Murphy is that they have featured each of the state’s poet laureate’s since Green in 2008.
Continuing with tradition, the series will feature Washington state’s current poet laureate, Tod Marshall, from 7:30 to 9 p.m. on Thursday (April 21).
The Gig Harbor Pierce County Library is located at 4424 Point Fosdick Dr NW