Friday, March 1, 2024

Spoken Word Poetry - March 2024

March 2024

"TOSSING his mane of snows in wildest eddies and tangles,

Lion-like March cometh in, hoarse, with tempestuous breath,

Through all the moaning chimneys, and 'thwart all the hollows and angles

Round the shuddering house, threating of winter and death.


But in my heart I feel the life of the wood and the meadow

Thrilling the pulses that own kindred with fibres that lift

Bud and blade to the sunward, within the inscrutable shadow,

Deep in the oak's chill core, under the gathering drift.


Nay, to earth's life in mine some prescience, or dream, or desire

(How shall I name it aright?) comes for a moment and goes--

Rapture of life ineffable, perfect--as if in the brier,

Leafless there by my door, trembled a sense of the rose."


-—William Dean Howells, 'Earliest Spring'

Spoken Word Performance

SPOTLIGHT at The Madison Community Arts Center, Sunday, March 10,

Women’s History Month

In search of Enheduanna

Disk of Enheduanna, daughter of Akkadian king Sargon, Ur, Mesoptamia, ca. 2,300 BC

If we were to guess who the earliest woman poet was in recorded history, I would daresay many of use would have been wrong.  When I started thinking about this for the March newsletter (March is Women’s History Month), my first guess was Greek poetess, Sappho.  Though a good guess by any of us, it would have been also wrong.

 After a little researching who the oldest known woman poet was, I’d have to say the title would  go to an ancient Akkadian princess/priestess/poet known as Enheduanna.

In 1927, English archaeologist Leonard Woolley found shattered pieces of a woman’s portrait from the ruins of an ancient temple in southern Iraq. To Woolley, it seemed to be just a “sadly-battered alabaster disk,” valuable only for its connection to the Akkadian king Sargon the Great, who conquered the Sumerians around 2334 BC and established the first empire in recorded history. The portrait was of his daughter, Enheduanna, and appeared to have been deliberately defaced. Depicted in the center of the disk, she presides over a nude male priest performing a ritual. Damage obscures the lower portion of her body, and her feet are missing, but her profile survives with startling precision, as does her rolled-brim crown and braided hair. A tiered temple, cartoonish in the distance, echoes the flounces of her cultic attire.

A few decades later this fragmented woman was revealed to be the writer of some of Mesopotamia’s oldest and most celebrated poems, the world’s earliest known author, who lived some fifteen centuries before Homer. Enheduanna composed hymns that synchronized local religious traditions across the Akkadian Empire, and singled out the goddess Inanna, a feathery-winged deity of paradox and transformation later known as Ishtar, as the most powerful figure in the divine pantheon. For many twentieth-century historians, this legacy was too extraordinary to have been true, her poetry too important to have been authored by a woman.

Enheduanna thrived in the Sumerian city-state of Ur sometime between 2300 and 2250 BCE. This makes her writings some of the earliest known examples of literature anywhere in the world.

She wasn't just a poet; she served as the High Priestess of the moon god Nanna (Sin) and the goddess Inanna. Her poems often focused on religious themes but also showcased her unique voice and literary talent.

What makes Enheduanna's work truly remarkable is that she composed in the first person, a rarity in her time. Additionally, she signed her work, claiming authorship – another groundbreaking act for women in that era.

It's important to remember that due to the limitations of historical records, it's impossible to definitively claim Enheduanna as the absolute first female poet. However, considering the age and nature of her work, she undeniably holds the title of the oldest known woman poet whose work has survived. Her legacy as a pioneering female voice in literature remains significant.

Here’s translated snippet of one of her poems:


  “O Life-Giving Goddess, possessor of all powers,  Inanna the Exalted!


  Merciful, Live-Giving Mother!

  Inanna, the Radiant of Heart!

  I have exalted You in accordance with Your power!

  I have bowed before You in my holy garb,

  I the En, I Enheduanna!

  Carrying my masab-basket, I once entered and uttered my joyous chants...

  But now I no longer dwell in Your sanctuary.


  The sun rose and scorched me.

  Night fell and the South Wind overwhelmed me.

  My laughter was stilled and my honey-sweet voice grew strident.

  My joy became dust.

  O Sin, King of Heaven, how bitter my fate!”


         —Enheduanna, ‘The Exaltation of Inanna’ (excerpt)

Note: Not an actual image of Enheduanna; AI generated

The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) are accepting submissions from poets interested in participating in the 20th Dodge Poetry Festival to be held Oct 17 – 19, 2024, at NJPAC in Newark, NJ.

This nationally-recognized opportunity is open to all poets who use their work to challenge and reframe existing narratives and norms including artists who practice spoken word, slam, performance and avant-garde poetry. The deadline to apply is April 15.

Margaret R. S├íraco is the author of two poetry collections, If ThereIs No Wind and Even the Dog Was Quiet (Human Error Publishing). Her short stories and poetry appear in journals and anthologies including Book of Matches, Greening the Earth, Kerning, Ovunque Siamo, The Path, Borderlands, Poetry X Hunger, and Meat for Tea. Margaret’s poetry has been twice recognized in the Allen Ginsberg Poetry Contest, nominated for a Pushcart Prizeand was a semi-finalist in the Laura Boss Poetry Book contest. She is a writing workshop leader, community builder, spoken word artist and a poetry editor for PlatformReview. Her poetry is featured in video, Instagram, and podcast projects.Margaret’s non-fiction work includes “Where Feminism Rocks” about the 1990s riot grrrl movement for On the Issues, “Historical Research in the Middle School Math Classroom”, poetry reviews. Her book, The Captive: A Prisoner of its Own Time, reflected on the cultural significance of a 1920s play banned on Broadway for referring to a lesbian character offstage.


Note: There will be NO ZOOM broadcast this month

Please join us in-person


Your co-hosts: Linda ~

                      Gregg ~

Red Bank Public Library

84 W Front Street

Red Bank, NJ 07701

(732) 842-0690



poetry intensive


 Are you committed to the craft of writing poetry and yearning to set goals? In this class, we concentrate on a different poet each week, analyzing and discussing craft points and elements. The richness of our discovery—of language and the more nuanced poetic elements—enlivens our experience of the poet, the craft, and our response to both. We then respond to related prompts through our writing, strengthening our own creative abilities. The goal is to produce work that moves you to a new understanding of your obsessions and talents as a writer. In addition to generating writing, you also respond respectfully to one another’s work, creating a supportive writing community. 

Dactylic Hexameter:

The Bridge Between Ancient and Modern Metered Verse

A while ago I was thinking about when my own interest in poetry may have begun.  Being an avid reader of just about anything certainly gripped my interest in the power and flexibility of human expression.


In junior high school, I took to years of introductory French.  By my freshman year, I wanted to try something different and enrolled in Latin I (followed by Latin II).  In our first year, most of the lessons were on grammar and construction of communicating in Latin.  Lots of rules, but all of them somewhat understandable once we started reading ancient texts.  Our first year was focused on abridged versions of Julius Caesar’s Gaul campaigns.  These lessons were relatively easy and provided a good foundation for Latin II.


In Latin II, the grammar rules dealt with complex expression and linear continuity of expression.  The big challenge here was in consistency in abiding by all context, tense and verb usage.  By the second semester, we had started diving into Homer’s ‘Odysseus’ and Virgil’s ‘Aeneid’.


Before diving into these, though, we had a one-week of lessons regarding Latin and Greek metre.  There are 36 different types of metre employed by the Greeks and understanding them in similarity and distinction was incredibly confusing; even moreso than the complexities of Latin grammar.


Nonetheless, once we started reading the text, the one metre that seemed to be consistently in place was dactylic hexameter (especially in the ‘Aeneid’.


A dactylic hexameter line is one that contains six "feet." Each foot is either a dactyl (– | one long syllable followed by two short syllables) or a spondee (– – | two long syllables). The final foot usually ends in two syllables (spondee or trochee).


Dactylic hexameter was THE defining meter of Greek and Latin epic poetry, used for grand narratives of gods, heroes, and foundational myths.


The falling rhythm (long – short – short) creates a sense of weightiness and gravitas, while the six-foot structure allows for both power and flexibility.  After reading ‘Evangeline’, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, I realized that much of the piece was written in dactyl hexameter.  I think this speaks to its longevity as a metre style that survived through different languages over the centuries.  Here’s a couple of brief examples between ancient and modern metred verse:


Ancient Poetry:


Homer (approx. 8th century BCE)

The Iliad: "Sing, goddess, the anger of Peleus' son Achilles / and its devastation..."


The Odyssey: "Tell me, Muse, of the man of many ways..."


Virgil (70 - 19 BCE)

The Aeneid: "I sing of arms and the man..." (Arma virumque cano...)


Modern Uses:

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

Evangeline - A Tale of Acadie: "This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks..."


Arthur Hugh Clough (1819-1861)

The Bothie of Tober-na-Vuolich: "It was the afternoon; and the sports were now at their hottest..."


Now, while dactylic hexameter seems present in ancient and modern texts; it important to note that Greeks and Romans used variant and other various meters; often in combination:

Elegiac Couplets: Alternating lines of dactylic hexameter and dactylic pentameter, often used for melancholic or reflective poems (e.g., Ovid)


Lyric Meters: Diverse patterns of long and short syllables, designed to be sung with the lyre (e.g., Sappho, Pindar)


Iambic Trimeter: Common in Greek drama for dialogue, mirroring the rhythms of natural speech (e.g., Sophocles, Euripides)


Understanding dactylic hexameter is key to appreciating the sound, structure, and overall feel of classical epic poetry.  Its distinctive rhythm and its association with foundational narratives make it a unique and powerful poetic tool.


2024 Nature & Place Prize!

Awarding $3,500 + Publication

In our pursuit of gentleness, nostalgia, and a reimagining of “home,” Frontier Poetry is reviving the Nature & Place Prize. 


From February 22 to April 28, 2024, we’re looking for poems rich and robust in language, technique, and form that pay homage to the natural world and all of the small marvels that occur in nature. We’re also interested in poems that observe geography and the landscape of home. Frontier Poetry warmly encourages poets of all backgrounds, identities, and ethnicities to enter.


The first-place winner will receive $3,000 and publication. Second- and third-place winners will receive $300 and $200 respectively, as well as publication. All shortlisted writers will also be considered for paid publication in New Voices.

Robert Reads for March 2024

Elizabeth Barrett Browing

15   March 2024   Robert Reads   Elizabeth Barrett Browning

In Gracious Thanks

A great honour to be bestowed…

It is with a bemused mix of pride and humility that I am pleased to announce that I have been chosen as a 2024 Library Champion by the Long Branch Free Public Library.  Pride in that I have been fortunate to be affiliated with an outstanding group of people dedicated to serving their community through the preservation and propagation of literature, a bulwark of energy to preserving our common culture.  Humility in that they have chosen to honour one so glad to be counted among their number and would / will continue to serve their mission of being the heart of the Long Branch community.


An awards dinner is planned for April 26, 2024 for I and my fellow Champions.  I would be honoured if you would attend.  It would not just celebrate the work of those honoured by the Long Branch Free Public Library but the entire organization that supports the work of cultivating our humanity through their efforts.

New Jersey Poetry Out Loud Announces 2024 State Finalists and Prepares for State Finals at the Count Basie Center

Following New Jersey’s 2024 Poetry Out Loud Regional Competitions, twelve finalists will vie for this year’s title of New Jersey State Champion at Red Bank’s Count Basie Center for the Arts. Regional competitions took place in early February at Appel Farm Arts & Music Center, Grunin Center for the Arts at Ocean County College, Mayo Performing Arts Center, Passaic County Community College, Rutgers-Camden Center for the Arts, and South Orange Performing Arts Center.


Poetry Out Loud is a national arts education program that encourages the study of great poetry by offering free educational materials and a dynamic recitation competition for high school students across the country. This program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about literary history and contemporary life. Since the program began in 2005, more than 4.3 million students and 76,000 teachers from 19,000 schools and organizations across the nation have participated in Poetry Out Loud. Poetry Out Loud is a partnership of the National Endowment for the Arts, Poetry Foundation, and the 55 state and jurisdictional arts agencies.


Congratulations to all the finalists moving on to State Finals:

  1. Kailan Cass-Adams-Johnson, from Mainland Regional High School in Linwood
  2. Nay’Quan Coriano, from Cumberland County Technical Education Center in Vineland
  3. Gianna Escobar, from Union County Vo-tech High School in Scotch Plains
  4. Michaela Giuliani, from Vineland High School in Vineland
  5. Elicia Johnson, from South River High School in South River
  6. Yumna Juha, from Montgomery High School in Skillman
  7. Amya Martinez, from North Star Academy Washington Park in Newark
  8. Sophia Padilla, from The Morris County School of Technology in Denville
  9. Leah Seche, from Doane Academy in Burlington
  10. Dhriti Somas, from Northern Valley Regional High School at Old Tappan in Demarest
  11. Nola Walker, from Henry Snyder High School in Jersey City
  12. Lucas Wilson, from Red Bank Regional High School in Little Silver


These finalists will represent their region and compete for the title of State Champion at the New Jersey Poetry Out Loud State Finals on March 14, 2024 at Count Basie Center for the Arts. The State Finals will be the culmination of a statewide initiative that began in the fall of 2023 and included 10,587 New Jersey students from 69 high schools across the state. Students competed first at the classroom or community level and then at the regional level to determine the 12 finalists who would move on to State competition.

Join ABC partner Project Write Now on March 12, 2024,,,,, at 7:00 pm for a fun evening of storytelling, conversation, and community! Using creative prompts, we generate new writing and then share our work. (Outside pieces are welcome too, but they must be your own work, 500 words or less, and align with PWN’s mission to provide a supportive environment.) If you would like to read, please email to be put on the readers list. Come to write, read, or listen! Your story matters and we want to hear it!

Monmouth County Poets - 2024 Schedule

Emotional or humorous, storytelling or intense, poetry can evoke a variety of thoughts and emotions. Explore or recite literary works during a time of alliteration, rhythm and verse.


All are welcome to read your work aloud or read work from your favorite poet(s).

Themes are suggested and original poems are encouraged. Poems must be appropriate for a family-oriented audience. Preregistration is recommended for readers, though drop-ins are welcome as time permits. FREE!


Next session is April 24, 2024 from 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm at the Thompson Park Visitor Center. Contact RacheI Cohen to be added to the list of readers at (732) 542-1642, ext. 29 or via

Our next Spoken Word Poetry event being produced is in cooperation with the Monmouth County Poets on Saint Patrick’s Day, March 17, 2024 from 3:00 pm - 6:00 pm at the Thompson Park Visitor Center.  It will be an afternoon celebrating timeless, Celtic tales. W.B. Yeats, Seamus Heaney, Lady Gregory, and Eavan Boland are some of the poets whose works will be recited by performance readers. These works delve into the rich tapestry of Celtic myths, legends and folklore. FREE! Registration is suggested, but not required. Light refreshments will be served following the performance.

For those who would like to attend this performance, reach out to Co-Producer Rachel below:

Contact RacheI Cohen to learn more about this event at (732) 542-1642, ext. 29 or via