How to Start a Local Poetry Club

by Susan Elliott

All you need to start a local poetry club is desire and a love for poetry. Poetry appeals to people of all ages, so reach out to your friends, neighbors and family and ignite a passion for poetry in the people around you. Decide whether the club will be for poetry writers or readers and then share your dream and press toward your goal of starting a local poetry club. In no time, you will be discussing classic poets such as Edgar Allen Poe, Lord Byron and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow or helping previously unpublished poets find an audience for their work.

Startup Basics

Every poetry club must have members and a meeting place. Talk to your friends, family and classmates. See what kind of interest those around you have in attending a poetry club. From there, branch out into your community for members and a location. Churches, coffee shops, libraries and bookstores are typically open to hosting poetry clubs. Schedule a meeting with the person in charge and express your interest in using her facility for your club. Check to see if there are any fees involved. Some locations allow clubs to meet for free, so survey several spots before choosing the best one for your club.

Poetry Club for Writers

An ideal poetry club for writers should include both published and unpublished poets. Members of a writing-based poetry club usually have the same goal: publication. This type of poetry club helps writers grow through the reading-and-critiquing process. Published poets can be a great asset to help new writers to reach their publishing goals. Published poets have been through the process and understand the details related to publication. They are typically comfortable with their own voice and are able to offer advice to new or unpublished poets. Set aside a specific amount of time to read and critique each other’s writings. Always stress that the club meeting is a judgment-free zone and that each member should be respectful of other members and their writing.

Poetry Club for Readers

Poetry clubs for readers provide a way to share the love of poetry. Poetry-reading groups meet to discuss the poetry they’ve read in the past and to discover new poetry. This type of club works well in a library setting, because books abound. Members often choose different books of poetry to share or a selection of poetry to read before the meetings start and then discuss the works during the meeting time. Poetry clubs can select works from classical poets like Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Walt Whitman or Longfellow or contemporary poets like Carl Sandburg, Maya Angelou or Robert Frost.

Successful Poetry Clubs

Poetry clubs can play an important role in their community. Members can reach out to the community and become involved in promoting literacy. Many poetry clubs host poetry readings during the holidays. For example, a reading of "The Raven” by Poe presented around Halloween can draw crowds and entice new members. Reading “T’was the Night Before Christmas” -- the classic holiday poem by Clement Clarke Moore -- around Christmastime in conjunction with a writing contest encourages writing and draws publicity for a club.

About the Author

Susan Elliott teaches studio art and creative writing to home schooled students. She is a graduate of Northwest Arkansas Community College and the Memphis School of Preaching Student Wives Program. She has written for Christian Woman Magazine and Virtuous Magazine. When she's not writing, she is painting or making costumes.

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