Woodstock-based group shares poetry with the community

Poetry is all around us, and a group of Woodstock-based writers is seeking to heighten the awareness of the art within the community.

The Atrocious Poets began as an unnamed gathering of local writers and poets who shared their work with each other, and they have expanded to group members performing poetry on the spot, promoting national poetry month and publishing their first chapbook.

“One of our goals is to bring poetry into the fabric of Woodstock … offering an easy entry point,” said poet Dawn Zehr.

Poetry on the Spot is one such easy entry point. Three or four of the Atrocious Poets attend public events, such as the farmers market, armed with manual typewriters, ready to create poems on the spot for the public. Curious members of the public give one of the poets a word or a topic, and the poet will create a poem for the person in a few minutes.

“It’s very freeing,” said Jessica Campbell. “The poetry is so condensed … it really focuses the mind.”

People don’t always get what they expect, because part of the beauty of poetry is how everyone sees things from a different perspective.

“Every now and then we touch a chord with someone,” said Zehr.

The group’s latest project is a self-published chapbook, a collection of poetry. Each poem was inspired by Woodstock, and the book includes a fold-out map showing where the inspiration for each poem came from. The Woodstock Public Library hosted an official launch for the chapbook the week of Sept. 11.

The Atrocious Poets are gearing up for April 2018, National Poetry Month. Plans are in the works for a large, community-wide project. The goal is to get poetry out on the street and accessible to the public.

The group can be seen performing On the Spot poetry in October at 4th Fridays at the Starline Gallery, Harvard, and members also will be part of the Art of the Land event Sept. 22 sponsored by The Land Conservancy of McHenry County.

Open meetings are held the first Monday of each month at 7 p.m. at Ethereal Confections, 113 S. Benton St.

Find them on Facebook or visit AtrociousPoets.com

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