How Alexandria’s Poet Laureate Goes Virtual During National Poetry Month

It’s National Poetry Month! How does Alexandria's Poet Laureate, KaNikki Jakarta go virtual for this month’s celebrations?

Courtesy Photo

Alexandria, VA – It’s National Poetry Month! How does Alexandria’s Poet Laureate, KaNikki Jakarta go virtual for this month’s celebrations? Jakarta took some time to share with The Zebra how everyone can take part in the poetry festivities and enjoy this beautiful form of art.

“We are the people who mark time and history,” states Jakarta. “Writers are the people who write the time, even if you aren’t sharing your writing. Writing is therapy for everyone.”

Jakarta, like other poets, dedicate April to celebrate poetry, spoken word and performance poetry. It’s usually a very busy month, filled with writing daily poems, and attending many events. Jakarta wasn’t about to let the pandemic stop the celebrations, though.

“I did a post [on social media], asking if I should do online open mics,” recalls Jakarta. “I was bombarded, other poets wanted to collaborate. ‘What did I want to do?’ they asked. That’s when I thought about doing online events.”

Throughout the month, Jakarta will be hosting several virtual events, such as open mics and workshops. One of her upcoming workshops “Prep to Publish” will help answer the question many writers have: “am I ready to publish?” The class is already filled up with 25 students! On Sat. April 11th, “Get to know your Poet Laureate” was presented by Alexandria’s Office of the Arts with 167 live views and over 300 online views.

“When I’m presented as the poet laureate of Alexandria, people always say ‘I didn’t know we had a poet laureate!’” Jakarta says.

Courtesy Photo
Courtesy Photo

While some people already have a writing practice and process in place, others may just be getting around to the idea of writing.

“Journaling is a good start,” encourages Jakarta. “It’s good to write about what you are going through. Join poetry groups online. It’s a way to connect with people from all over. Google poetry groups, Google is your friend!”

Feeling like you want to connect with others in a virtual open mic? Now’s the time to go for it!

“We held an event called ‘Keep the Mic On’ over Zoom. There were 69 people in attendance. For those poets that need an audience and are missing the open mic experience, you get to see the people on the screen,” explains Jakarta. “You can look into the eyes of your audience and see them clapping or snapping, even if they are on mute. It can get a little gloomy at home, separated from people. This is a way to connect.”

Don’t feel pressured to go all out on writing if you don’t feel ready, you can always be a supporting audience member or reader.

“Just as there are many poets, there are many poetry lovers,” Jakarta says. “Just hearing the words and knowing that you are not alone and relating to someone else is helpful, as well.”

Here’s a list of upcoming events that Jakarta will be facilitating:

Friday, April 24 – Authors, KaNikki Jakarta and Laura Di Franco present OPEN MIC AND SPOLIGHTS  an interview and open mic platform present via ZOOM. $1-$5 sliding scale donation. For ZOOM link and to register, email kanikkij@gmail.com

Saturday, April 25 – KaNikki Jakarta facilitates POSSESS YOUR WRITING PROCESS, a workshop designed to empower you to write in your time 1 pm – 3pm Live on Zoom. Email kanikkij@gmail.com to register

Sunday April 26th and Every Sunday at 7 pm– Via Zoom. KaNikki Jakarta, Sim ply Sherri, Charity Blackwell, and Danielle Reed presents KEEP THE MIC ON – an online Women Lead Artistic Experience with interviews and an open mic — email kanikkij@gmail.com for Zoom Link

Tuesday April 28 – KaNikki Jakarta Hosts Poem In Your Pocket Day LIVE ON ZOOM. An event that will spotlight the winner of the DASHING WORDS CONTEST. These individuals will have their poems displayed on the buses and trolleys April and May 2020.

As a special treat, Jakarta shared a poem for our readers. Enjoy!

Taking Solace In Solitude

© By KaNikki Jakarta, Poet Laureate of Alexandria, Virginia

My Daddy once told me

“If the birds don’t fly away, know that everything is okay.”

So today

Stay Home! Watch TV, organize, and talk on the phone

Take this time and enjoy every breath that you take

Bake the cake that you never have the time to make

April is National Poetry Month, so take out your laptop or pen

And when you’re finished, share poems with your poetry friends

Enjoy time with family and get to know one another better

Delight in this time that you’re spending together

We’re practicing social distancing to be healthy and safe

Stay six feet apart, this is not up for debate

I have to be candid

Because there or so many things we have taken for granted

Hugs, social life, visiting your family and friends

So be mindful that when this is over, you won’t do this again

Stay safe and be hopeful, and remember to wash your hands

This too shall pass so make your future plans

And when you hear the birds chirping

Know that they decided to stay

Remember what my Daddy said, “Everything is okay.”

Be sure to connect with your Poet Laureate, KaNikki Jakarta via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or via email at kanikkij@gmail.com.

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