A poet in residence program has launched in Maitland after pairing a local poet with a cafe.
The Verses program is an unpaid, voluntary program that invites a poet from the region to settle into one of the city’s countless cafes and do their craft.
Organisers hope Verses will enrich Maitland’s cultural life and start conversations in the heart of the city.
Highly accomplished, National Poetry Slam finalist Gillian Swain will begin the first residency from May 1 at Organic Feast in East Maitland.
“Whilst poetry is often seen as a very personal and private endeavour, poetry can also be extremely social and wonderful fun,” Ms Swain said.
“Verses will bring more opportunities for the community to connect over a cuppa and chat, through writing, reading, sharing, listening and encouraging.”
Organic Feast Market Manager Joseph Stuart said he was proud to support Verses.
“Our café has long been a meeting point for cultural, creative and socially diverse groups,” Mr Stuart said.
“We know there is a vibrant, creative culture in Maitland and I think it is fabulous that Verses is inviting this life into the public space.”
Hunter poets and Maitland cafes are invited to participate in the Verses project by completing an expression of interest online by Friday 21 April at maitland.nsw.gov.au/Library/events/verses
“Verses is a great initiative that brings poetry off the page and into popular local cafes,” Maitland City Librarian Keryl Collard said.
“We are keen to support poets in exploring participatory culture and creative connections.
“We are also pleased to partner with the Hunter Writers Centre to establish a monthly meet up for poets at the East Maitland Library.
“The group, Poetic Voices, hosted by award winning poet Cassandra O’Loughlin, will meet on the fourth Saturday of each month, commencing Saturday 27 May.”
The timing of Verses coincides with the 2017 Newcastle Poetry Prize, one of the most significant and influential poetry competitions in Australia, which award more than $20,000 in prize money.