The theme was community, and the Carrboro Poets Council took it to heart.
During their 18th annual West End Poetry Festival last week, the council invited locals and laureates to poetry readings, workshops and engaging conversations. The festival took place from Thursday to Saturday in breweries, restaurants and community centers around Carrboro.
“There is a magic that happens when people come together to share poetry,” Gideon Young, a Carrboro Poets Council member, said.
Young has been living in North Carolina since 2008, and moved near Carrboro in 2015. He started as a performer at the festival and later involved himself in its operations, he said. Throughout the year, he said he works on the festival's logistics, doing things like organizing vendors, performers, food and publishers.
On Saturday, dozens of people gathered at the Carrboro Century Center. There, they experienced a range of poetry, from spoken word by the N.C. Poet Laureate, Jaki Shelton Green, to a humorous writing workshop by UNC creative writing professor Ross White.
The festival was sponsored by the Town of Carrboro, The ArtsCenter, Steel String Brewery, Luna, Open Eye Cafe and Blair. Food was provided by Carrburritos, Imagine That Gluten Free and Neal’s Deli.
“[Festivals are] a way that the community can rally around the idea of the art form of poetry, shed those preconceived notions of what a poem has to be and get to know people who actually practice poetry in the community,” Len Lawson, a poet from South Carolina, said.
On Saturday, Lawson read from his recently released book, “Negro Asylum for the Lunatic Insane.” His narrative takes place in a mental asylum, exploring themes of mental health and institutional racism.
He described poetry as a creative, rule-breaking art.