Help Us Make It To Next Year
Open Mouth Reading Series is all about contact: we bring members of our community together in contact with national and local poets alike in intimate spaces to celebrate poetry. We love this work, but more than anything we value the health and safety of those whose presence makes that intimacy and celebration possible, which is why, in March, we made the call to cancel 2020 programming until we can be sure it is safe for us all to be together again. This includes postponing until next summer the annual Open Mouth Poetry retreat, which is both our favorite thing to do and the program that keeps us going, financially, for the rest of the year (including funding scholarships for the retreat itself).
As is the case for many reading series all around the country, COVID-19 has upended the way we do things, and we are still struggling to figure out how best to adjust—what kinds of programs and support we can offer—in the midst of this pandemic. These months have been the first in more than four years of programming when we haven't had the chance to gather with our community and connect through poetry, and we want to come out on the other side of this as ready as ever to pay poets for their work and time.
Missing out on this year's retreat means many additional challenges for Open Mouth: it means missing out on a small community grant we were awarded to put on the retreat this year; it means the budget will be much harder to balance for our annual festival, which includes workshops and readings by poets from all over; it means further delays in launching a series of environmental writing workshops, based on last year's Harvest Workshop with Ross Gay; and it means it will be harder for us, when we are able to hold our retreat next year, to fund scholarships, even as the bulk of participants face additional challenges paying tuition.
We won't say we need poetry more now than we did before (we believe poetry is always a necessity), but we do firmly believe poetry is a balm in troubled times. We want to keep supporting poets in making and sharing their work, and we need your help to do that.
Right now, GoFundMe is offering matching grants of up to $1,000 (about 10% of our annual budget!) for nonprofit organizations impacted by COVID-19 that raise that much between now and May 10. We know many people are suffering financially right now, but even if you can't give, please help us support poets by sharing this campaign. The funds we raise will go directly to supporting the poets whose words support us when we're most in need.