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community favorite poem reading


The 2019 Favorite Poem Reading will feature poet Melissa Studdard, poet in residence at the Hermitage Artist Retreat.

Melissa Studdard is the author of four books, the most recent of which is the poetry collection "I Ate the Cosmos for Breakfast." Her short writings have appeared in The New York Times, Psychology Today, The Guardian, Harvard Review, Poets & Writers, and many other print and online publications, as well as being featured in a variety of multimedia projects. The title poem from "I Ate the Cosmos for Breakfast" was made into a short film by Dan Sickles of Moxie Pictures (for Motionpoems) and featured as an official selection for the Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival and the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival. 


Studdard has spoken, read, and given panels and workshops at universities and festivals spanning from Seattle to New York City to Gangtok, India. In addition to writing, Studdard serves as the executive producer and host of VIDA Voices & Views for VIDA: Women in Literary Arts, the president of the Associated Writing Program’s Women’s Caucus, an editor for American Microreviews and Interviews, and a professor for the Lone Star College System. Some of her awards include the Forward National Literature Award, the International Book Award, and the Readers’ Favorite Award. In addition, her work has been noted in many best of lists, such as Cutthroat’s Best Books of the Year, January Magazine’s Best Children’s Books of the Year, Bustle’s “8 Feminist Poems To Inspire You When The World Is Just Too Much,” and Amazon’s Most Gifted Books. 

About the Community Favorite Poem Reading

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.

For the first time, in 2019, PoetryLife's Favorite Poem Reading will move to a new partner venue:

The Hermitage Artist Retreat

6630 Manasota Key Road

Englewood, Florida


The reading will be April 19, 2019 at 5:00 pm--on the beach if weather permits.

To apply to be a reader, please email the following information to PoetryLife. You may also drop off your application at Bookstore1Sarasota, which is located in downtown Sarasota at the corner of Main Street and Palm Avenue.


The poem you select must be one that is published by a recognized poet. It may not be your own poem (published or not) or the poem of a close relative. 

Please select a poem that is accessible--i.e. a poem that an audience can "get" when hearing it for the first time. And select a poem that is not overly long--look for one that is no more than two pages in length.

Select a poem that has personal meaning for you. As part of the event, readers are given one minute to explain--without notes--why they have selected that particular poem. We are looking for personal reasons, not academic reasons.

Submit the following:

1. Your name

2. Your email address

3. Your phone number

4. Your occupation or, if retired, your former occupation

5. The title of the poem you would like to read

6. The author of the poem

7. Your reason for wanting to read this poem

8. A copy of the poem

Submit these to:

Or drop your submission off at Bookstore1Sarasota,

12 South Palm Avenue in downtown Sarasota

Deadline for submissions is March 15, 2019

We will select up to 20 of the poems for inclusion in the Favorite Poem Reading set for April 19th at 5:00 pm at the Hermitage Artist Retreat. If your poem is selected, you will be asked to present it at the event. We will notify you by April 10th and, should your poem be selected, we will call to confirm your availability. 

Don't want to be a reader? Just want to attend the reading? Click here to go to the Hermitage Artist Retreat's website where you will be able to RSVP soon.

See the video below to watch a Favorite Poem reader from 2015.

Elsie Souza reading her favorite poem at PoetryLife 2015.

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