The city of Modesto celebrates the art of poetry not only by appointing a Poet Laureate but also by sponsoring the annual Poets' Corner Contest for all adults and children who live or go to school in Stanislaus County.
Poet James Shuman and writer Colleen Stanley Bare (both founding members) say the idea of a Poets' Corner began in 1980-81 as a statewide promotion by Claire J. Baker, a Bay Area member of the National League of American Pen Women. The objective was to establish a tangible poets' place in each city, honoring local poets, with a committee that would be in charge of promoting poetry. The requirements were that the Poets' Corner be sponsored by the city and supported by city government. Modesto was the third of 15 California cities to form a Poets' Corner.
For Modesto, the poets' place is a bower and two Victorian benches located in the northwest wall of the McHenry Mansion side gardens, now marked by two bronze plaques.
Thirty-two years after its inception, the Poets' Corner Contest remains an annual event, supervised by the Poets' Corner Committee and sponsored by the city's the Modesto Culture Commission.
This year's contest has two categories: General and Special Theme: Pets.
Adults and students from first grade to seniors in high school are invited to submit poems postmarked by March 13. Winners will be invited to read their works at the Poets' Corner Celebration upstairs in the McHenry Museum on May 19. Each author of a winning poem will receive an anthology of this year's Poets' Corner poems.
Submission Guidelines are available at: www.modestogov.com/prnd/ poet_corner.asp.
Copies of Poets' Corner Celebration Anthologies from each year are kept in the main room of the McHenry Museum in a small, four-sided bookshelf. Here, too, are books submitted by local poets. The Poets' Corner is a living testimony that poetry thrives in Modesto.
So sharpen your pencils, submit your poems and join the poetry community.
Hansen, a Modesto poet, chairs the Modesto Poets' Corner Committee and serves as vice president of the Modesto Chapter of the National League of American Pen Women. Email: email@example.com