Women’s poetry reading celebrates 17 years _lowres

FILE - In this May 3, 2006, file photo, author James Patterson contemplates a question during an interview at his home overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway in Palm Beach, Fla. Having handed out more than $1 million to help independent bookstores, James Patterson is now sharing his wealth with public school libraries. The best-selling author announced Monday, March 9, 2015, that he was donating $1.25 million through a grant program administered with Scholastic Reading Club. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)

The Baton Rouge Gallery will host the 17th annual Women’s History Poetry Reading at 4 p.m. Sunday, March 22.

Original poems lasting three to four minutes about women, history or both will be read by a wide range of Louisiana women at the long-standing event, which is part of the “Sundays@4” series at the gallery, 1515 Dalrymple Drive. The program is free.

“This is a special event, as veterans and beginners share the stage. It’s a given (that) beginners can learn from veterans. But, it’s very interesting, surprising even, the degree to which the veterans benefit from interacting with the newer poets. The event is sort of like our charge and recharge station,” said Les Ann Kirkland, coordinator for a seventh year. “Also, at times, our reading is a cathartic experience for both poets and audience members. The air of openness and encouragement enables participants to read poems containing controversial or painful subject matter. Speaking what is normally unspoken can sometimes start a healing process.”

The event was founded in 1998 by Sue Owen, then poet-in-residence at LSU, and is usually held in March, Women’s History Month. The designation was largely brought about by The National Women’s History Project, now in its 35th year.

In recent years, poet participation has ranged from 18 to 30 readers. Early confirmers for this year include Alaine Benard, Marilyn Burel, Sylvia Green Chatman, Dorothy Davis, Claire Dixon, Jamie Donley, Beth Foos, Liz Ferguson, Brandon Elizabeth Hebert, Susan Hymel, Sarah W. Johnson, Les Ann Kirkland, Becky Larkin, Angie Ledbetter, Clare L. Martin, Robin McAndrew, Juanita H. McGregor, Brenda Moncriffe, Rose Marie Mustain, Carolyn Ricapito, Marilyn Shapley, BreAnna Smith and Nancy Tatje-Broussard.