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In 1995, Rod Stryker organized the first meeting of Sun Poet’s Society. Now, 20 years later, it has become the longest running weekly open mic poetry event in San Antonio. This weekend, the group is celebrating with an anniversary party.
The first few meetings of the Sun Poet’s Society were a spin-off from the folks who congregated in the King William area at Ed’s Poets Society, a play of words from the Robin Williams movie, “Dead Poets Society.”
Meetings were held initially at Cafe Gaia, then at Java Junction Coffee House, Coffee Gallery, and Cafe Maison. Sun Poets kept moving as businesses opened and closed. Uncommon Bookstore, Bridges Bookstore, Border’s Bookstore at the Quarry, and Cafe Soleil were other locations that hosted the Sun Poet’s Society. Barnes & Noble in the San Pedro Crossing was the meeting point for 14 years.
Sun Poet’s Society moved last year to their current home, Olmos Pharmacy Diner, where they meet every Wednesday from 6 to 8 p.m. A magazine, “Sun Poetic Times,” published selected works by members and non-members from 1994 to 2005. The Sun Poets’ Society Writing Workshop still meets from 7 to 9 p.m. at Barnes & Noble at the San Pedro Crossing on the second Thursday of each month.
The popularity of the weekly meetings rests on the fact that it is truly an open mic. “We remain open to everyone no matter their orientation, their faith, or their level of education,” Rod said. “And we welcome poems of all types. We are a supportive organization.”
Many popular poets have frequented the podium at Sun Poet’s Society through the years. Visits by Tim Gibbard, Jeanne Marie Spicuzza, Juan Antonio Meza-Compean, Trinidad Sanchez Jr., and Mim Scharlack (with her drums) were a cause for enjoyment. Karla Morton, 2010 Texas Poet Laureate and author of nine poetry books, packed the house. Past appearances in 2013 and 2014 by the recent Poet Laureate of Oklahoma, Nathan Brown, were popular as well.
Memorials, such as the outpouring for AnaRose Marsden, known to her poetry friends as “Phoenix,” gathered a large crowd. Many wrote poems memorializing her outgoing character.
Perhaps the biggest group ever to grace the Sun Poet’s Society was because of a visit by Carmen Tafolla in 2012 after she was selected the first Poet Laureate of San Antonio. She is expected to make an appearance at Saturday’s event.
The public is invited to the 20th Anniversary Party on Saturday, March 14, 8 p.m. to midnight at the Olmos Pharmacy, 3902 McCullough Ave. Donation is $5 at the door. Bring your best friend, bring your favorite poems, bring a pen and paper; you will be inspired. Peace, love, and poetry.
*Featured/top image: Local poet Carmen Tafolla was the first Poet Laureate of San Antonio. She gave a reading to the Sun Poet’s Society at Barnes & Noble Bookstore soon after her inauguration in 2012. Photo by Rod Stryker.