A salon is an informal event hosted by a member of the community. The host invites friends, family, neighbors, and colleagues to enjoy a few hours of good food, lively conversation, and a poetry reading in a home or other location. This up close and personal interaction with a published poet exposes guests to the way poetry was meant to be shared—read aloud.
In 2005, Kean Spencer and Marc Graver held the Poetry Center’s first poetry salon, and it has become a vital part of the larger WCU poetry community, where three or four salons are held each year.
Salons have been held in private homes in West Chester and the surrounding area, at the nightclub La Pomme in New York City, and at Tanglewood, the home of WCU President Greg Weisenstein and his wife Sandra. While usually there is one featured poet, on other occasions a group of poets might read. Sometimes there is live music; sometimes the poetry is performed as if in a play; and at other times it is projected on the wall. There is something magical about the salon, something intimate about the resonance of the written word in a conversational space. The salon fulfills one of the goals of the center: to move poetry from academic halls and into the day-to-day life of people.
Poets who have participated in the WCU salon tradition include Ned Balbo, Lorna Knowles Blake, Fred Chappell, Rhina Espaillat, R. S. Gwynn, Tyehimba Jess,
X. J. Kennedy, Kate Light, April Lindner, David Mason, Joshua Mehigan, Samuel Menashe, Micheal O’Siadhail, Jane Satterfield, A. E. Stallings, Anne Stevenson, and David Yezzi.
Dana Gioia held the world launch of his latest book, Pity the Beautiful, at a Poetry Center salon.