Calling All Poets: Grand Rapids Set to Host Inaugural Poets’ Conference

The first week of April is set to be an exciting time for poets and lovers of poetry in the Grand Rapids Area. Thanks in large part to a collaborative effort headed by current Grand Rapids Poet Laureate, David Cope, the city will host the first of what will become an annual four-day conference featuring the work of local poets and exploring the ways in which students, readers, and developing writers can connect with poetry on both local and global levels.

Running Monday, April 2nd through Thursday, April 5th on the campus of Grand Rapids Community College, the conference will host a multitude of interactive events designed to facilitate audience participation. A wide range of established poets, including all four Grand Rapids Poet Laureates as well as numerous poets who currently teach at Aquinas College, Grand Rapids Community College, Grand Valley State University, and Calvin College, will help conduct discussion panels on a variety of topics including poetic communities, small-presses, personal websites, poetry in connection with music and visual art, and publishing. These panels, modeled after such events as summer sessions at the Naropa University Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, conferences at the University of Michigan Special Collections Library, the National Poetry Conferences at GVSU in the 1970’s, and the annual AWP Conference, are meant to be a means for established poets to share their valuable knowledge and experience with those who are still honing their craft.

Each night of the four-day conference will also feature readings by some wonderful local poets, many of whom have been featured on Throughthe3rdeye, including Miriam Pederson, Rod Torreson, L.S. Klatt, Linda Nemec Foster, and David Landrum. These readings will give audience members a chance to see the power of poetic language firsthand, and will also let them hear in person many poems that they may have already read in print. The atmosphere at these readings is sure to be electric, and any developing poet would be well served by seeing professionals in action.

However, there will also be opportunities for up and coming poets to share their work, as the event will feature two open reading sessions, one on Monday, the 2nd at 2:35pm, and another on Wednesday, the 4th at 2:30pm. Those wishing to participate are encouraged to show up early so that they may secure a spot. Each open session will last for approximately two hours, so there should be plenty of opportunity for those who wish to share their work with a large audience to do so.

Grand Rapids Poet Laureate David Cope is hoping that the event will serve to bring attention to the thriving poetry scene that has existed in Grand Rapids for decades, though it has often obscured from the sight of popular consciousness. Don’t miss this opportunity to be a part of this historic event that will place the Grand Rapids poetry scene in the spotlight. Admission to the conference is free, and all ages are welcome. Parking in the GRCC area can often be tough to find, so please take the time to check out for a map of nearby parking areas and detailed parking information.

For more information on the conference, such as the schedule of events and detailed descriptions of each panel, please visit, and also check out our great interview with David Cope himself on Throughthe3rdeye at, in which he talks about how the event came together and what it means for poetry in our city. Hope to see you there!

Works by David Cope

Through the 3rd Eye was supported in its inception by the Grand Rapids Humanities Council and is currently made possible by continued volunteer effort and private support. Copyright 2013.