Poetry Corners - Poems throughout Downtown Bainbridge Island 2023In years past, Bainbridge Island has celebrated National Poetry Month with Arts & Humanities Bainbridge’s Poetry Vibes event, which has showcased the voices of the island’s young poets. In October 2022 AHB and the City of Bainbridge Island announced the appointment of our first Poet Laureate, Michele Bombardier.  For National Poetry Month 2023, the island is pulling out all the stops with multiple events throughout the month.

POETRY CORNERS – April 1st through 30th. Now in its 24th year, Poetry Corners is an annual exhibit of poster-sized poems on display throughout downtown Winslow. This year, 48 poems by Bainbridge Islanders grace storefront windows throughout the downtown Bainbridge Island corridor and at the Bainbridge Public Library. For additional information on venues and poems, visit:

PLUM’S ANNUAL HAIKU COMPETITION! – April 1st Hanging April 2023 Haiku Contest Winners at Plumthrough 30th. Entries are on display in the lights above the Plum deck throughout April.

ARS POETICA – On Wednesday, April 12th, from 7pm – 9pm at the Bainbridge Island Senior/Community Center, the Bainbridge Island Photo Club will be hosting an Ars Poetica event featuring poets reading their selected poems with the Bainbridge Island Photo Club photographers presenting their inspired reflective photographs. This is a free community event and all are welcome. BISCC is located at 370 Brien Avenue SE, Bainbridge Island.

Throughout the month of April, an exhibit of Ars Poetica printed photographs with selected poems will be displayed in the entry way of the Bainbridge Island Senior Community Center, 370 Brien Ave SE, Bainbridge Island. This is a free public viewing event.

Ars Poetica 10th Anniversary 2023ADDITIONAL ARS POETICA EVENTS – During the open submission period, the Ars Poetica Committee, which consist of poets and artists from local counties, collect poetry from residents of Kitsap, Mason, Jefferson counties, Gig Harbor, and Key Peninsulas. They are then organized into a manuscript and sent to participating galleries. The galleries share the manuscript with their artist collectives, where the poems are read, and if they feel inspired by a poem, they choose it and create a piece of original artwork to pair with the poem.

In the month of April, the following galleries will hold a live event where the artist is able to present their artwork along with the poem. All events are free and open to the public.

  • April 8th at 5:30-8:30pm – Rimbert Illustrations, 617 N. Callow Avenue, Bremerton
  • April 16th at 2pm – Front Street Gallery, 18881-A Front St. Ne, Poulsbo
  • April 15th 1 – 3pm – Cafe Corvo, 629 N. Callow Avenue, Bremerton
  • April 23rd 1pm – Collective Visions Gallery, 331 Pacific Avenue, Bremerton
Tara Hardy - Courtesy Photo provided by Kathleen Thorne BI Poet Laureate Steering Committee
Tara Hardy – Courtesy Photo provided by Kathleen Thorne BI Poet Laureate Steering Committee

BOMB! April Open Mic at BARN. April 20th, from 7 – 8:30pm.  Bainbridge Island Poet Laureate Michele Bombardier hosts a free open mic with featured poet Tara Hardy. Tara’s book, My, My, My, My, My, won the 2017 Washington State Book Award for Poetry. Tara has worked in social justice movements most of her life and currently teaches for University Beyond Bars, Hugo House, and The Evergreen State College. Her poetry explores the impact of trauma and illness on our bodies and creative selves. She identifies as LGBTQ and disabled.

Open Mic to the public with everyone (ages 14 and up) welcome. Sign-up to read (maximum 4 minutes) beginning at 6:45pm. BARN is located at 8890 Three Tree Lane NE, Bainbridge Island.

WRITING POETRY 101 – April 22nd at 2pm at the Bainbridge Public Library. Bainbridge Island Poet Laureate Michele Bombardier presents a free poetry writing workshop. Participants are encouraged to bring pen, notebook, and a willingness to write to offered prompts. Sharing new work will be optional and very minimal: only an occasional line or phrase.

Michele will give a talk about aspects of writing poetry with a focus on generating versus editing. She will provide poems as models with various prompts. Poets of all levels are welcome as well as those who have not written poetry but might like to. Participants will leave the workshop with several baby poems to cultivate. Advance registration is not required. BPL is located at 1270 Madison Avenue N, Bainbridge Island.

Billy Collins - photo credit Suzannah Gilman courtesy of Bainbridge Performing Arts April 2023
Billy Collins – photo credit Suzannah Gilman courtesy of Bainbridge Performing Arts April 2023

AN EVENING WITH BILLY COLLINS – April 29th at 6:30pm at the Bainbridge High School Theater, presented by Bainbridge Performing Arts. BPA will host an evening with former two-time Poet Laureate of the United States Billy Collins as he takes the stage for his first Pacific Northwest event in over five years. Collins is an American poet, appointed as Poet Laureate of the United States from 2001 to 2003. He was Distinguished Professor at Lehman College of the City University of New York, and was recognized as a Literary Lion of the New York Public Library in 1992, as well as being selected as the New York State Poet for 2004 through 2006. He was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2016.

Tickets are $30 at A limited number of $100 tickets for a post-reading reception with Billy Collins (to benefit the Buxton Center for Bainbridge Performing Arts renovation) are also available.

Please Note: This event does not take place at BPA or at its temporary venue inside Bainbridge Cinemas, but instead will be hosted at the Bainbridge High School Theater at 9330 High School Rd NE, Bainbridge Island. The post-reading Golden Circle reception takes place at the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art at 550 Winslow Way E, Bainbridge Island.

POETRY CORNERS LIVE READING AND POETRY JOURNAL SALE – May 6th at 5pm – The Poetry Corners poets will be doing a free reading and poetry journal sale at Bainbridge Island Museum of Art, located at 550 Winslow Way East, Bainbridge Island. The poetry journal will also be available at Eagle Harbor Books and other participating retailers.


ARS POETICA and the West Sound Arts Communities – Launched in 2011, the West Sound Arts Community fused the creative talents in Kitsap, Mason and Jefferson counties into the event titled Ars Poetica. In celebration of National Poetry Month, gallery events displaying the poems with the artwork are held throughout the month of April.

Nancy Rekow, founder of the Bainbridge Island Writers Workshop with Bainbridge High School English teacher, drama coach & poet, Bob McAllister, began hosting Ars Poetica in 2011. This year Ars Poetica coordinator Tamarah Rockwood brings her exceptional arts events organizational skills to celebrate the 2023 West Sound Arts Community Ars Poetica.

Ars Poetica has become an annual West Sound Arts community tradition, merging creative talents of poets and artists. Each year, the Ars Poetica committee collects and juries hundreds of submitted poems. The juried poems are sent to participating galleries and art collectives. Participating artists from each gallery read the poems, select the poem that most inspires them, then create a unique piece of artwork to reflect the poem.

From long-time Bainbridge Island poet John Davis’s introduction of Michele Bombardier at the City of Bainbridge Island Reception on March 3, 2023:  

“Poetry is a way of taking life by the throat.”
“Poetry is eternal graffiti written in the heart of everyone.”
No matter how you say it,
“Poetry is emotion, passion, love and grief and not for zombies by zombies.”

Thousands, hundreds of thousands, maybe even a million poems have been written on Bainbridge Island. Poets are not so much strict historians as they are cultural historians, artists who dare to express themselves. Poetry helps us better understand our feelings and emotions. Our brains are attuned to the rhyme and rhythm in poetry. Bainbridge Island has a rich history from a grass roots level.

In the late 70s Bob McAlistair introduced a poetry writing workshop. Nancy Rekow* was one of his students. Being organized and aggressive, she helped carry the workshop for many years. She instituted the Northwest Poets and Artists calendar. Some of us escorted middle schoolers to Seattle to read their poetry on KRAB radio. Our April display of Poetry Corners was introduced and still thrives today. Poetry banners once adorned the walk-on ramp for the ferry. For many years San Carlos Restaurant held a well-attended poetry reading. Karen Perry made documentary films of the readings and presented them at the Lynwood Theater during the Celluloid Bainbridge Film Festival. Sidewalk art poetry projects were installed along High School Road. Poetry was displayed at the swimming pool. Individuals, including John Willson, held poetry writing workshops. David Guterson held a writing workshop with local writers at the library.

Linda Bierds is a nationally known poet. Other nationally known poets have read on Bainbridge including Sherman Alexie, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Billy Collins. Billy Collins twice filled the high school gymnasium with over two thousand listeners hanging on his words.

Let us write about Mac’s Tavern, the Kell-In Drive-in, the mochi festival, the focaccia bread at Town and Country, the coyotes and deer, and the bear that swam to our island. Why not discover our own rhythms. And why not have a Poet Laureate to help us celebrate and encourage others. (John Davis – March 3, 2023)

“The goals of National Poetry Month are to: highlight the extraordinary legacy and ongoing achievement of American poets, encourage the reading of poems, assist teachers in bringing poetry into their classrooms, increase the attention paid to poetry by national and local media, and encourage increased publication and distribution of poetry books, and encourage support for poets and poetry. Why was April chosen for National Poetry Month? In coordination with poets, booksellers, librarians, and teachers, we chose a month when poetry could be celebrated with the highest level of participation.”  – Tamarah Rockwood, Committee Member of Ars Poetica and owner of Bainbridge Island Press –  (

*Nancy Rekow, who passed away this in February, was a renown Bainbridge Island and Kitsap County poet. In addition to her award-winning poetry, Nancy was awarded an Island Treasure award in 2018. If you’d like to learn more about her, click here.

Images and information courtesy of Kathleen Thorne, Poet Laureate Steering Committee Member and Tamarah Rockwood of Ars Poetica and Bainbridge Island Press. Billy Collins image provided by BPA. Michele Bombardier image used with permission from Nancy Treder of the Bainbridge Review and provided by Kathleen Thorne.

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