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PoetryLife celebrates and supports inspiration in education and in our community.


Why poetry?

We believe poetry uniquely contributes to the complete education of young people and to a lifelong enjoyment of language for people of all ages.

Recognition of student writers and their teachers

Students in middle and high school are invited to participate in poetry events throughout the year, including a Poetry Open Mic Marathon, a judged event, that happens during April, which is Poetry Month. In addition, teachers are offered the opportunity to apply for grants to assist them in enhancing the teaching of poetry or to further their own understanding and appreciation of the genre.


Our PoetryLife celebration.

Each year PoetryLife brings together nationally-recognized poets, students, teachers and the community at large all in one place to celebrate poetry. The celebration includes a full day with our featured poets. This is combined with a series of events throughout the year to recognize the work of both students and adult community members, and to enjoy the poetry that is part of the fabric of our lives and to inspire us all.

This year, 2019, will be our eighth year bringing the life of poetry to Sarasota. In 2012 our featured poet was Robert Pinsky, former poet laureate of the US and founder of the Favorite Poem Project. Pinsky led Sarasota community members in our city’s first-ever Favorite Poem reading—citizens of all ages reading the poetry they have come to know throughout their lives. A community Favorite Poem Reading has been a tradition for us ever since.


In 2013 we expanded to include students in middle and high school reading their own poetry, selected by a panel of accomplished poet judges. Our guest poets in 2013 were former US Poet Laureate W.S. Merwin and award-winning poet Naomi Shihab Nye.


​In 2014 our guest poets were National Book Award winner Mark Doty and award-winning poet and editor Kevin Young. And for PoetryLife 2015 our featured poet was Billy Collins, former US Poet Laureate with a special guest appearance by Pulitzer Prize winning poet, Tracy K. Smith.


In 2016 we held a special PoetryLife winter edition with Billy Collins and Marie Howe and, for our spring edition, our featured guests were Tracy K. Smith, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 2012 and Richard Blanco, the poet who read at President Obama's inauguration in 2009 and who writes so eloquently of his life as an American who grew up in a Cuban immigrant family.


In 2017 our featured poets were Aimee Nezhukumatathil and Edward Hirsch. In 2018 we enjoyed the presence of Juan Felipe Herrera, former US Poet Laureate, and Ocean Vuong. We look forward to welcoming Terrance Hayes, National Book Award winner and Britain's rock-star poet, Simon Armitage to PoetryLife 2019.


We couldn't do this without the help of our partners. I hope you will consider becoming a partner for PoetryLife 2019. 


Georgia Court

Founder of PoetryLife and Owner of Bookstore1Sarasota

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