Writers on the Avenue is hosting a spring poetry festival on Saturday, April 30 to celebrate National Poetry Month. The festival will include free afternoon workshops led by experienced poets and teachers and an evening of readings from poetry contest winners, workshop leaders Ryan Collins and Farah Marklevits, and award-winning poet Lauren K. Alleyne. The festival will take place at Trinity Episcopal Church and is free for all ages.


The first workshop, “The Joy of Poeming” led by Ryan Collins, will begin at 2:00. Seasoned and beginning poets from 8 to 88 can join in cooking up poetry off the cuff, nothing serious, nothing that isn’t fun. In the 3:00 workshop, “Climbing on, in, and around Words,” Farah Marklevits will let participants take a recess from the everyday word rut and find inspiration in swinging around on language’s playground.


Workshop participants will be invited to read their creations at an open mic beginning at 5:00 p.m. Anyone is welcome to bring a poem appropriate for a general audience and share it at this time.


The evening reading will kick off at 6:00 p.m. with winners of the poetry contest in all three categories: adult, teen, and youth. Prizes for the winning poems, selected by contest judge Farah Marklevits, will be awarded at this time. Workshop leaders Ryan Collins and Farah Marklevits will read from their work, to be followed by a performance by Lauren K. Alleyne. The festival is supported by a grant from the Community Foundation of Greater Muscatine and prizes are co-sponsored by Salvatore’s Restaurant.


Ryan Collins is the author of A New American Field Guide & Song Book (H_NGM_N Books, 2015) and several chapbooks. He is the Executive Director of the Midwest Writing Center and host of the SPECTRA Poetry Reading Series in Rock Island, IL, where he lives. Farah Marklevits has published in The Carolina Quarterly, Literary Mama, DIAGRAM, and elsewhere. Her manuscript was a finalist for Milkweed Editions’s 2014 Lindquist and Vennum Prize for Poetry. She lives in Davenport.


Lauren K. Alleyne is the author of Difficult Fruit (Peepal Tree Press, 2014) and is Assistant Professor of English and Poet in Residence at the University of Dubuque. Her fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and essays have been widely published and honored with many awards, and she was the recipient of a 2014 Iowa Arts Council Fellowship. She is a Cave Canem graduate and is originally from Trinidad and Tobago.


Light refreshments will be served and a play area will be available for small children. Trinity Episcopal Church is located at 211 Walnut Street in downtown Muscatine. For further information contact [email protected].


Writers on the Avenue is a non-profit organization committed to advancing the literary arts in the Muscatine area and supporting local writers. The group meets the second Tuesday of every month from 6 to 8 p.m. in the lounge of the Student Services building at Muscatine Community College. New members are always welcome. Membership is $10 a year.