Carrboro and Poet Laureate Fred Joiner celebrate April as Poetry Month

Carrboro has been celebrating National Poetry Month throughout April.

Fred Joiner, who has been Carrboro’s poet laureate since 2019, has worked to advance poetry in the area.

“National Poetry Month is an important month to me because it’s a pause in the year, and it’s an invitation for us to think more deeply about who we are,” he said.

In an April 1 proclamation, Mayor Damon Seils declared April to be Poetry Month in the town.

“I encourage all residents to celebrate poetry and poets by reading, listening to, and sharing poems,” Seils wrote in the proclamation.

Joiner, who said he is in his final year as the town’s poet laureate, has been actively involved in poetry since he was in middle school.

After exploring different forms of art as a child, he said, he eventually found his calling in poetry through his love for words and storytelling.

“From a young age, I was searching for what my medium would be,” Joiner said. “I tried painting, I tried playing instruments with a fair amount of success that you can have as a young person, but I think I’ve always liked language and liked stories.”

In 2019, Joiner was one of 13 people chosen to be a Laureate Fellow through the Academy of American Poets.

Joiner also said poetry has been beneficial because it allows him to be creative, while also helping him slow down and expand his mind and soul.

As the poet laureate, Joiner said the position gave him a chance to overcome self-doubt and help him feel worthy.

“On the personal level, it has made me feel accepted and it has made me feel seen and has validated me as someone who sees themself as a poet in the world,” Joiner said.

Gary Phillips, the Carrboro poet laureate who preceded Joiner, said he appreciates that Joiner chooses to highlight other poets in his work.

“Fred’s a generous and extraordinary poet,” Phillips said.

During his tenure, Joiner has also read poems at the beginning of Carrboro Town Council meetings.

Joiner said that during times such as Black History Month, Women’s History Month, LGBTQ+ Pride Month and National Hispanic Heritage Month, he picked work to read that highlighted different underrepresented communities.

To celebrate Carrboro Poetry Month, he plans to invite Carrboro Poets Council members to deliver poems during the council’s April 19 and 26 meetings.

Events to celebrate poetry in Carrboro

Carrboro plans to host a few events to celebrate Poetry Month.

On April 25, there will be a free “Poetry on Your Plate” event at the Century Center from 6 to 8 pm for those who are 16 years and older.

During this event, residents can either bring their own meal or eat snacks provided by the Carrboro Recreation Department while they listen to poets read their work.

The Town recommends that people carry around poems that they can easily share during “Poem in Your Pocket Day” on April 29.

Poetry isn’t just celebrated in April though — Carrboro plans to host poetry events throughout the year.

For Carrboro Day 2022 on May 1, there will be a free “Poetry in the Round” event inside the Town Council chambers from 2 to 4 pm

Gideon Young, a member of the Carrboro Poets Council, said this event will be like an open mic night but for poetry. Attendees can share some poems or just listen to others.

In October, the Town will also host the annual West End Poetry Festival planned by the Carrboro Poets Council. Young said this will be a two-day event on October 14 and 15 in downtown Carrboro.

He noted the importance of having spaces like these to share poetry.

“I think poetry allows us a place to question and to wonder and a place to share those questions and share that wonder,” Young said.

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