Quince Orchard Library was alive with poetry the second Sunday in September as the DiVerse Gaithersburg Poetry Reading & Open Mic group began its third season. The creation of Quince Orchard Park resident Lucinda Marshall, DiVerse holds readings that feature local poets and offer an open mic for those who wish to share their work on the second Sunday of each month from 2 to 4 p.m. at the library. “Prior to when I began hosting readings in 2017, there were no regular poetry readings in northwest Montgomery County,” Marshall explained. “Given the recent upsurge in poetry’s popularity, it is no surprise that DiVerse has been well received and attended.”
Readings began in the former Chesapeake Framing and Art Gallery in Crown and then moved to the Gaithersburg Library in 2018. “When librarian Eve Burton, who is a poet herself, suggested that we move to the Quince Orchard Library, I knew immediately that it would be a good fit given that they already have an ongoing poetry workshop program,” Marshall said.
The group draws its audience from all over the metro area. “Area poet Serena Agusto-Cox came up with the DiVerse name, which is a nod to both poetic verse and our diverse community,” Marshall said. “In keeping with that spirit, I try to ensure that we bring in a wide variety of poetic voices.”
Marshall and Burton welcomed the 30-plus attendee group, which included all ages, on Sept. 8. Their format typically features three published poets who each read several of their works.
Kristin Kowalski Ferragut, a Gaithersburg resident, began with selections encompassing themes of daily life, childhood recollections and comparing and contrasting thoughts and memories that her son helped her choose. She is a teacher and has been a featured poet at local area readings and in poetry and prose writing workshops.
Jona Colson, an associate professor of ESL at Montgomery College, read two intriguing dialogue poems—”Passport Control” and “Doctor to Patient.” Somewhat comical in a slightly melancholy way, the responses are what one internalizes rather than actual responses to questions. Colson is a native Marylander and a sailor who enjoys writing on the themes of water and winter. His rapport with the audience, inflection and clear presentation make you want to hear more.
Le Hinton, the author of six poetry collections, tackles what you might term “today” feelings—social commentary, current events, to the point themes. But he presents the memories, lessons and history of the past as well, all with a concise yet gentle delivery. The audience laughed when he said that he chooses what to read by listening to the poems as they speak to him and tell him “if they want to come out to play.” Cotton features as a meandering theme in his work, and he personified it in one selection. He read of his thoughts on the 2015-16 shootings in Lancaster and Charleston, and mature love with an epigraph from F. Scott Fitzgerald.
DiVerse’s Open Mic attracts “both experienced and newer poets,” Marshall said. “Several people have read their work aloud for the first time at our readings, and we are honored to be able to provide that opportunity for them. We’ve also had several people who have come just to listen and told me later that they were inspired to go home and try their hand at writing poetry.”
Currently scheduled dates for readings are Oct. 13, Nov. 10 and Dec. 8. There is no cost or registration required to attend.
October and December readings will include poets who also pursue other creative work; they will discuss how they work with multiple forms of expression. The Quince Orchard Library also sponsors Poetry Evenings, offering adults an opportunity to read, write and share their poetry.
Upcoming dates are Oct. 10, Nov. 14 and Dec. 12 at 7 p.m.
For more information, visit www.diversepoetry.com.