IT’S A GRAND STATEMENT, but in Lucinda Clark’s life, it happens to be true. Fourteen years ago, a contact in a local bookstore asked her to help organize a poetry contest. Fast forward to today and the
Poetry Matters Project, led by Clark, supports the work of amateur and professional poets around the world, from right here in Augusta.
Poetry didn’t figure into Clark’s early career as a researcher, nutritionist and counselor, or even into her second career as an art dealer. But when her husband Bob came to Augusta in 1995 to join the Center for Primary Care, she was searching for an activity that could involve her young children. Those early days, Poetry Matters attracted only about seven to eight entrants from local school systems. But the responses were powerful. “When they win the contest, it’s the springboard that keeps them writing.”
Over time, the project has grown to include adult poets as well as seniors, as well as workshops, poetry readings and other local events. A presence on the Internet began to attract budding and professional poets beyond Augusta. This past year, the contest (which concluded during National Poetry Month in April) reviewed entries from 628 poets in the U.S., France, India, Canada, Australia, Ireland, Gambia and South Africa.
Along the way, Clark was inspired to write her own book of poetry and, through her business PRA Publishing, she now publishes poetry, fiction and nonfiction from writers around the world.
Although her passion came later in life, she believes her work in the arts is what she was called to do. Today she still jots down verses when the muse strikes. And she points to historic figures like Winston Churchill whom many may not realize was a poet. “Poetry is important because it’s an outlet,” she says. “If you read history and you just look around at societies in general, who are the change agents? They are poets who have day jobs.”
Do you believe poetry matters? The Poetry Matters Project is always looking for volunteers
to assist with programming. To volunteer, visit www.poetrymatterscelebration.com.