What a whirlwind of words this month has brought us, from the bounty of spring blossoms contrasted by the tragedy of the bombings and violence in Boston.

For the past 24 days, I've been participating in the local 30/30 Poetry Challenge presented by the WordXWord festival in honor of National Poetry Month.

The challenge is to write 30 poems for each of the 30 days in the month of April, based on a daily prompt. Each day, the poetry produced is published online at 3030poetry.com.

Each day, I've come across dozens of poetic expressions. Some tug at your heart strings like the Boston-related ones in response to the prompt "after the math." Others are the kind you don't want to read while drinking a beverage because they are so laugh-out-loud worthy.

Though reading a poem is one thing, nothing is so raw and powerful as seeing one performed live.

Luckily for us in Berkshire County, there are a number of ongoing and special events in which you can experience this for yourself.

Kudos to Megan Mayhew Bergman, who gave a fiction reading at Williams College, to the students who presented the Monument Mountain High School Poetry Slam at The Guthrie Center, and to Leigh Strimbeck who read and performed at Y Bar, all on Tuesday night.

Here's a list of other venues you can catch live readings this spring: Friday


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Each fourth Friday of the month, The Good Purpose Art Gallery in Lee presents "Writers Read." This week features poet and writer Karen Chase and graphic novelist Howard Cruse, beginning at 5:30 p.m. There is a suggested donation of $3. A book signing will follow. For more information, contact David Giannini at davidgpoet@gmail.com.

The Parlor Café in North Adams hosts Open Mic Fridays each week for music, poetry and more, beginning at 8 p.m. Free and open to all. First-come, first-served sign-ups are at the bar. Visit theparlorcafe.com or call (413) 346-4279 for more information.

Tuesday

At Y Bar in Pittsfield, the Tuesday writing/reading events have been renamed the "Tuesday Project," so as not to be confused with other events in the area. This Tuesday, April 30, at 8 p.m., WordXWord and the Tuesday Project present its Story Slam program, hosted by chef/poet James Burden.

In a Story Slam, storytellers are given a prompt in advance and then given three minutes to tell fantastic, true stories based on the theme. This week's theme is "warning signs." Scores are tallied, winners discovered, prizes awarded based on audience participation. Optionally, anyone who has a favorite dish they'd like to share is encouraged to contribute pot-luck style. For more details, visit www.wxw365.org/story.

 

Wednesday, May 1

You can support the next generation of poets and creative thinkers by attending the UNITY Teen Writing Workshop public reading and celebration from 7 to 9 p.m., at Gallery 51 on Main Street in North Adams. In addition to hearing youth share their writing, the program will also be launching the 14th edition of its student journal, "Somewhere Between." The publication involved 26 young people, ages 13-22, who contributed their work. The event is free and open to the public, and a reception with refreshments will follow.

 

May 7

Head-To-Head Haiku is back, hosted by Melissa Quirk, beginning at 8 p.m. at Y Bar in Pittsfield. Similar to a poetry slam, in Head-To-Head Haiku, poets compete in pairs, head-to-head with a 17-syllable limit. Alternately funny, raunchy, poignant -- always fast-paced, fun and good humored. More information available at www.wxw365.org/hth.

 

May 11

Albany, N.Y.-area slam poet and spoken word artist elizag, aka Elizabeth K. Gordon, returns to The Parlor Café in North Adams. She has competed at the Women of the World Poetry Slam, the National Poetry Slam and The Individual World Poetry Slam and the WordXWord Festival in Pittsfield. She is the reigning Wowps Haiku slam winner and in the May 14 finals for NYC's 2013 Urbana slam team. Show starts at 7:30 p.m. For more information, visit www.ekg3.com.

 

May 14

WordXWord's Tuesday Project features poet/spoken word artist Mindy Nettifee, beginning at 8 p.m. at Y Bar on North Street in Pittsfield. More info at http://thecultofmindy.com.

 

May 16

The Poetry Slam at The Parlor Café takes place every third Thursday on Ashland Street in North Adams.

A poetry slam is a competition among poets, judged by audience members selected at random, who use a 0.0-10 Olympic-style rating card scale. Heckling between the audience and judges, as well as cheering are welcome.

This is a cash slam. Sign-ups open at 7 p.m., and the slam starts at 8. This is a three-round, 14-poet slam of original work. Eight poets will move on the second round, with combined first- and second-round scores deciding a third place and moving two poets to the finals in a head-to-head for first place.

There will be a $2 to $3 suggested donation at the door to help pay the poets. For full details, visit theparlorcafe.com or call (413) 346-4279.

To reach Jenn Smith:
jsmith@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6239.
On Twitter: @JennSmith_Ink