Outdoor readings, workshops and an open mic

On a warm evening in July, an eclectic crowd gathers at the bluff in Juneau Park, sunlight sifting through the leaves and reflecting off the lake. Regulars lounge on picnic blankets and passersby prop bikes against tree trunks as a poet steps to the microphone.

Poetry in the Park hosts poetry readings in Juneau Park on the second Tuesday of every summer month, providing a platform for local poets and a gathering space for the poetry community. On Saturday, July 20, Poetry in the Park will open the mic to the public at its first Poetry Fest in the Park, which celebrates the organization’s fifth anniversary.

Poetry Fest has readings, workshops and an open mic from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Scheduled artists will read throughout the day, and Wisconsin poet laureate Margaret Rozga will host a poetry workshop at 1 p.m. You can share what you write there (or any of your other poetry) at the open mic at 3 p.m.

Woodland Pattern Book Center will have a pop-up poetry bookshop at Poetry Fest. Food and drinks can be purchased at the event as well. Guests are encouraged to bring their own chairs and blankets to sit on.

Throughout the event, artist and writer Anja Notanja Sieger will typewrite poems on demand. These poems will be inspired either by requests or by conversations with the recipient, highlighting the interactive elements of poetry — this art form is not always as solitary as it sometimes seems.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Poetry in the Park

“I always hope that these events show people that poetry is multifaceted,” said Lindsay Daigle, co-founder of Poetry in the Park and lecturer at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. “People can still have personal experiences while being a part of the community.”

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Daigle and Sandy Duffy, a Juneau Park Friends board member, founded Poetry in the Park five years ago, and the event is continuing to grow its following. The 2015 season consisted of two readings, each with two poets; these numbers are now doubled. Readings are held June through September and consistently draw an audience of around 100 people.

“[Poetry] might communicate to you in some way that you didn’t expect,” Daigle said, welcoming newcomers to this weekend’s event. Whether you hope to read your own poetry aloud or simply listen to others, Poetry Fest is a great opportunity to engage with Milwaukee’s poetry community and broaden artistic horizons.