LONG BRANCH, NJ — It happens in the seaside city that’s been home and birthplace to Poets Laureate, literary lions and Oscar winning screenwriters — to say nothing of scholars and spoken-word slammers; punkrockers and playwrights; rhymers and writers of memoirs, love notes, advertising slogans, school reports and works of art.

If it’s true that there “must be something in the water,” then the people of Long Branch have bottled that message.

When the event known as iPoet returns for the first time this year on the afternoon of Saturday, March 5, it will represent the next generation of a medium that’s powered not by the latest in personal tech gadgetry, but by the power of words. The community room of the Long Branch Free Public Library at 328 Broadway will be the setting once again, as a group of the best young middle school, high school and college level poets share the words that conjure and describe their world.

Spoken word artist, musician and performance poet Rock Wilk is the host for the first in the 2011 series of “iPoet” events spotlighting work by young Shore area writers. It takes place Saturday, March 5 at the Long Branch Free Public Library, as a presentation of the Long Branch Arts Council.

Scheduled from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m., the March edition of iPoet is the first in a planned series of four such events in 2011. Future iPoet sessions (on April 9, May 14 and a June date to be announced) will pay tribute to some world famous writers with a connection to Long Branch, such as Norman Mailer and Dorothy Parker.


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Returning as host for the March 5 event will be singer/ writer/ producer/ performance poet Rock Wilk of Brooklyn and Asbury Park — an acclaimed artist who has won a fervent regional following (at such venues as the Nuyorican Poets Café, Asbury Park’s Showroom and our own Inkwell) for his hard-hitting, autobiographical multimedia presentations. A tireless champion of new poetic voices, Wilk presides over an afternoon that brings together student poets from Monmouth University, Brookdale Community College, the Poetry Club at Long Branch High School, as well as several other public schools in the city and neighboring communities.

Educators from the writing programs at the various schools have been invited to assemble the participating poets for the iPoet series, which is sponsored by the Long Branch Arts Council, the Long Branch Free Public Library and the Long Branch Historical Association, and supported by Investors Savings Bank Charitable Foundation, Monmouth County Arts Council and the City of Long Branch. Complimentary refreshments will be served up, at a reception for the event.

There’s still time for young poets from grades 6 through college level to get on board, as the Arts Council will continue to accept sign-ups from now until February 22. To obtain a sign-up form or find out more about iPoet, contact Kate Angelo, director of Outreach and Adult Programming at Long Branch Free Public Library, at [email protected].

Robyn Ellenbogen, Community Arts Coordinator for the Long Branch Arts Council, is also available for media interviews regarding this event and can be contacted at [email protected].

The Long Branch Arts Council is a partnership dedicated to working with the city government, civic and business organizations and the arts community to re-establish the City of Long Branch as a thriving regional center for the arts. Our aim is to accomplish this goal by attracting artists and arts organizations, by coordinating fundraising and development efforts, by establishing arts education programs, and by presenting arts-oriented events that draw upon the natural resources, accessibility, historic assets and “people power” that are unique to our beloved city.

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Allan Dean

Allan Dean is editor, publisher, and founder of the Atlantic Highlands Herald. Published since 1999 and selected in 2000 by the Borough of Atlantic Highlands as one of their official newspapers, making...