826DC is delighted to acknowledge the Mount Pleasant Poetry Project as our June Community Partner of the month! Oliver Bendorf and Temim Fruchter, two local artists/writers/creative-thinkers, launched this awesome project in April to celebrate National Poetry Month. They invited several neighborhood partners (including us! *blush*) to host “poetry drop-boxes” with instructions encouraging members of the community to submit their poems anonymously. The poetry was collected and compiled into an anthology that will be released on July 28 at Mount Pleasant Library.
The mission of the Mount Pleasant Poetry Project is to provide free poetry programming for all ages across the full spectrum of their neighborhood’s diversity in order to promote community and creativity. They dream of neighborhoods in which creativity thrives, connects, and is accessible to all. Learn more about their project here.
We asked Oliver and Temim to tell us a little more about themselves and the Mount Pleasant Poetry Project.
826DC: What made you decide to begin the Mount Pleasant Poetry Project?
O & T: We are both writers who live in the neighborhood and have been working to keep creativity at the center of our lives. We know that we are happier when we are writing and we wanted to invite the whole neighborhood in on that same happiness for a National Poetry Month adventure.
826DC: How did you land on the motto of “Poesía para todos” and what does it mean to you?
O & T: There’s a print on our living room wall that says “Arte Para Todos” and that’s where we got the inspiration. To us it means, poetry belongs to everyone and should be more equally distributed. It doesn’t require any special credentials, gatekeepers, or mediators. There are plenty of those and they serve a different purpose. The Mount Pleasant Poetry Project is about tapping into the poet in everyone, the poet that may feel not good enough or like a real poet. Poetry is an amazing transformative life-giving thing and it is available to all of us!
826DC: Do you have a favorite submission?
O & T: How could we when they are all special in their own way?! Some are dashed off on a napkin, clearly a spontaneous act of poetry, while others were carefully typed ahead of time. The poems are from all ages. Some are funny and some are sad. More so than any one submission, we are in love with what they add up to: a brilliant and diverse compendium of several hundred poems, written by our neighborhood in one month for our weird grassroots project!
826DC: Why did you choose to invite 826DC to the project as a dropbox host?
O & T: There is natural overlap between our mission and that of 826DC. We share a commitment to more equitable access to the power of writing. The work 826DC does to cultivate creativity not only in our neighborhood but all over the city is inspiring and necessary, and it was an honor to have our poem-eating monster box at 826DC for the month!
Oliver follows the instructions of a poem prompt
826DC: What’s next for Mount Pleasant Poetry Project after your anthology release in July?
O & T: We don’t know yet—as it’s a brand-new project (and we also have full-time jobs), we’ve been letting it evolve and grow in ways that surprise us, and the truth is that we don’t have a long-term plan for it, yet. Right now we’re focused on transcribing the poems and making plans for publication (and working on a way to fund the publication!), and scheming for an awesome anthology release. We’d love to talk with anyone about collaborations for future directions.