Crazy Wisdom Poetry Circle Marks National Poetry Month with a Reading and Open Mic


Crazy Wisdom + National Poetry Month

Poets in the poster, left to right: David Jibson, Shutta Crum, Lissa Perrin, Edward Morin, Gregory Mahr, Dana Dever, Joseph Kelty.

April marks the 25th year of National Poetry Month and Crazy Wisdom Poetry Circle will mark the tradition during their monthly reading on April 28 at 7 pm via Zoom (email for the Zoom link).

Poets Shutta Crum, Dana Dever, David Jibson, Joseph Kelty, Loraine Lamey, Gregory Mahr, Edward Morin, and Lissa Perrin will read. An open mic will follow and participants may read their own poem or a favorite poem by another poet. 

The Crazy Wisdom Poetry Circle has become a home for writers in the greater Ann Arbor area and has been meeting at the Crazy Wisdom Bookstore and Tea Room for about 10 years. The Poetry Circle offers workshops on the second Wednesday of the month and readings on the fourth Wednesday of most months. Currently, several poets, including Jibson, Morin, and Perrin, co-host the group. 

Morin is the author of a recent poetry collection, The Bold News of Birdcalls, and gains inspiration from the monthly readings.

“The public readings give me occasions to meet new writers with fresh perspectives and techniques,” he said. “They also help me connect once again with writer friends and acquaintances whose work I respect. We catch up on news and resume former conversations about our craft.”

Perrin, who is also among the readers in the April 28 event, has been a regular at the readings, dating back to before she joined the workshops in 2014. Participating has meant dedicating herself to the craft.

“I’d been writing poetry sporadically for years and wanted to become more disciplined and consistent in my writing and learn to be a better poet,” she said. “I’d read about the workshop group in the Ann Arbor Observer and Crazy Wisdom Journal long before I finally gathered up my courage to attend.”

The group was welcoming and beneficial to Perrin, who added, “The other participants have given me lots of constructive feedback that has helped me improve my craft. It’s also fun to listen to and read what they are writing, to offer support and feedback.”

Jibson, author of the poetry collection Protective Coloration and the Crazy Wisdom Poetry Circle’s website coordinator, agreed about the ways that the group has contributed to his writing practice. 

“From both the workshops and the readings, the most important thing I learn is how much I have yet to learn from both experienced and from new poets and writers,” Jibson said. “Everybody has something to give.”

Around 10 people attend the workshops each month, said Perrin. As for the readings, attendance has expanded during the pandemic when all events have been online, and as many as 40 people have been at a reading, according to the co-hosts. 

Prior to Jibson and Perrin’s co-coordinating, Morin became involved even earlier. He began co-leading the group in 2012 with former co-host, Kelty. Morin brings his experience from serving as an editor at magazines and a university press and with teaching creative writing and literature at universities. 

“In Crazy Wisdom workshops, I share what I’ve learned,” he said. “Along with other workshop participants, I learn from useful suggestions for improving drafts of my writing.” 

Kelty, who concluded his tenure as co-host in 2020 and is participating in the reading on April 28, had a long-time interest in poetry, including writing the occasional poem during his career teaching biology at Oakland Community College until his retirement in 2010. He pursued poetry through an MA in English at Oakland University in the 1990s. For Kelty, who lives in Waterford Township, poetry is something he does out of his passion for it.

“I came to poetry late in life,” he said. “For me in my post-retirement years, the enjoyment of writing poems takes precedent over publication.”

Why did Kelty make the trip to Ann Arbor each month for the Crazy Wisdom Poetry Circle? He describes it as “one of the most rewarding [experiences] in my retirement years” to spend time with people who have a mutual interest in poetry. 

“It has meant an opportunity to have my poetry evaluated by experienced writers, to share my poems with interested audiences, and to meet novice writers as well as established poets,” Kelty said. 

Martha Stuit is a former reporter and current librarian.

In addition to the April 28 reading for National Poetry Month, other upcoming virtual events include a reading with poet Carolyne Wright on Wednesday, May 26, at 7 pm; author Kelly Fordon of Detroit will read Wednesday, June 23, at 7 pm; poet William Trowbridge will read on Wednesday, July 28, at 7 pm. To join the virtual events, participants should email for a Zoom link.  

➥ "Beyond the Birds: Ann Arbor poet Ed Morin's 'The Bold News of Birdcalls' explores nature, relationships, and work" [Pulp, April 15, 2021]
➥ "Ann Arbor poet David Jibson on Crazy Wisdom's Poetry Circle, '3rd Wednesday' magazine, and his new book, 'Protective Coloration'" [Pulp, April 6, 2021]