Poet laureate named for Erie County

Categories:  News    The Arts
Tuesday, September 25th, 2018 at 11:02 AM

On Sept. 24, Erie County named their 2018-2019 Poet Laureate at the Blasco Library. After the three-part competition, Dr. Charles Joy, an Erie native, was named winner.

The poet laureate initiative has been a part of the Erie county community since 2009, when the Erie County government teamed up with local schools Edinboro University, Penn State Behrend, Mercyhurst University and Gannon University, in order to enhance the local area through poetry.

The Poet Laureate wins a $3,000 stipend and an additional $4,000 grant that goes toward their project to bring poetry to the community. They also receive another $500 that goes toward the administration and other expenses.

Joy is no stranger to poetry or Erie. Joy, went to high school at Cathedral Prep., attended Fordham University where he got his Bachelor of Arts in sociology, and he later went on to attend the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine to study literature and medicine to obtain his doctorate. Joy is now a child psychiatrist and co-chairman of the American Academy of Child and Adolescents Psychiatry (AACAP) art committee.

Before he won the poet laureate competition, Joy found an interest in poetry at a young age. “I enjoyed reading a child,” Joy said. “In high school I really started to pay attention to authors. In the poetry area, John Keats comes to mind. Another loud voice for me was Charles Bukowski.”

Joy has also been an active member in bringing poetry to Erie over the last several years. He had previously worked with Kathleen Cantrell to do a weekly poetry event, called Poetry Scene, at the Erie County Book Store. Joy is now the host of a weekly poetry night held at Calamari’s — an open mic night for beginning poets and professionals. Joy is also a member of the Italian-American Writers Association and the Mercyhurst Community Writing Workshop, along with being the poetry editor for the AACAP newsletter.  

For this $4,000 project, Joy has come up with a four-part plan to help bring poetry to Erie. Joy wants to start with having some sort of compensation for featured poets in the area. Allowing the featured poets to have compensation for their work when they do events, such as the open mic night at Calamari’s, is part of this. “The Poet Laureate Project will enable me to provide featured poets at Poetry Night with a monetary check for their efforts,” Joy said.

The second part of the project looks at poetry as a business. Joy wants to look into making more money, in order to make revenue for the featured poets and host more shows. “The second part addresses sustainability” Joy said. “That particular plan of finances is based on the project funds, so there are also funds to start up a business of poetry production in order to produce shows.”

The third part to Joy’s plan is the assembly of a poetry therapy conference. It consists of a partnership with Harborcreek Youth Service. This part of the project is currently underway. “Poetry therapy is an expressive therapy,” Joy said. “Harborcreek Youth Services has a very active expressive therapy.”

The final part of the plan involves a community effort, in which Erie would team up with other cities and bring them closer together through poetry. “The fourth part is enhancing the city of Erie’s relationship with its international sister cities through poetry. That is also underway, in partnership with Poets Hall Press,” Joy said.

Calamari’s is currently under construction, however, open mic night will begin again within the next couple weeks. Joy can be reached at chuckjoy.com.

Anisa Venner-Johnston is a staff writer for The Spectator. She can be reached at edinboro.spectator@gmail.com.

Tags: erie, poetry, the arts

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