Talking National Poetry Month with Auburn’s poet laureate James Rodgers

Some April poetry events include a Jack McCarthy poetry reading and a youth poetry contest

April is National Poetry Month, but Auburn’s Poet Laureate, James Rodgers, hopes the community’s excitement and enthusiasm for poetry extends to all the other months of the year.

Rodgers said his job as Auburn’s poet laureate is to represent the community through poetry and to broadly promote poetry as a meaningful creative outlet and form of expression.

He said poetry includes a variety of styles and genres that a lot of folks may be unfamiliar with.

“There is a whole lot of poetry that I love,” Rodgers said. “Some of it is not for me, and that’s okay.”

Part of his job, according to him, is to get as many “eyeballs” on poetry in the community that he possibly can, so people can find the kind of poetry that speaks to them.

Rodgers said that as an artform, poetry allows people to escape if only for a moment, but at the same time, poetry can be a way for people to reflect on their difficult reality and deal with it head-on.

He said in trying times the past year with the pandemic and protests, poetry and art can be an important part of coping, reflecting and healing.

Rodgers said after the presidential inauguration in January, it was not the performances of the musicians that people remembered, but rather the “heart-wrenching” poem written and spoken by Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gordon.

A couple of poetry events that Rodgers is involved with include the Soulfood Poetry Night on April 15, a virtual poetry reading event featuring poems and personal essays read by friends and admirers of “spoken word legend” Jack McCarthy.

Poems will be read from McCarthy’s posthumously published collection entitled “Allow The Light.”

This month, Auburn will also hold a Youth Poetry Contest, in which kids around the community or their parents can submit poems by email to and include their name, school and age.

Rodgers will pick his favorite poems, and they will be featured in the Auburn Reporter.

He said he hopes that “spotlighting” some of the poetry in the community will help to inspire more interest in poetry among young people in town.