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Fresh Meadows Poets fete silver anniversary

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The Fresh Meadows Poets celebrated its 25th anniversary June 26 at the Queens Botanical Garden. According to George Northrup, president of the Fresh Meadows Poets, the celebration was ideally attended and there were about seven readers reciting poetry.

The Fresh Meadows Poets is a nonprofit founded in 1986 by the Fresh Meadows public library, its first official meeting area. The group hosts bimonthly meetings on the second and fourth Saturday of each month from 10:15 a.m. to noon. They engage in discussions pertaining to organizational activities. The members present readings of original poetry, which are then critiqued by a panel.

“Our purpose is to promote poetry in Queens,” said Northrup.

Although there are many loyal members of the group, there are absolutely no teenage members. The Fresh Meadows Poets sponsors two contests for teens each year. The Poetry Contest for Teenagers features cash prizes for first-, second- and third-place winners. The Queens Teen Poet Laureate requires the entry of five poems. The winner receives the title of “Queens Teen Poet Laureate” and is invited to for a guest appearance on the Fresh Meadows Poets’ monthly television program on QPTV.

The broadcast on QPTV usually features lectures on poetry by poet laureates of different regions. It has featured poet laureates from Queens, Suffolk County and Pennsylvania. They also read their original work with a few questions from a moderator.

In addition to having its private meetings, the group engages in several service functions throughout Queens, including public readings. They host workshops to encourage people to try their hand at poetry writing. They also host readings in places like the Barnes & Noble on Union Turnpike, the Queens Botanical Garden in Flushing, senior citizens centers, nursing homes, the YMCA and several other public locations.

“It’s with the idea of offering free access to poetry to people who might not otherwise have it,” Northrup explained.

“We’ve formed a nice partnership with them [the Queens Botanical Garden] so they’re very enthusiastic about our readings,” said Northrup.

Although they have only had a partnership with the Queens Botanical Garden for about a year, the group plans to schedule two readings a year in the garden.

“The combination works well: nature and poetry,” Northrup said.

Membership is welcomed both in and outside of Queens. Despite the slightly misleading name, the Fresh Meadows Poets do not mainly comprise of Fresh Meadows residents. There are members from Nassau County and other Queens neighborhoods like Flushing and Forest Hills. There are also several out-of-state members from Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and even commuters from Florida.

To join the Fresh Meadows Poets, you must send in a cover letter, 10 original poems and a $10 reading fee. For more information on the Fresh Meadows Poets and how to join, visit freshmeadowspoets.org.

Updated 11:30 am, October 12, 2011
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