North Fork Poetry Society offers opportunity for ‘secret’ poets to shine

For poet Stella Kamakaris Keating of Orient, words have always been a constant.

“If nothing else, whether [things] are good or bad, I’m writing,” she said.

She founded the North Fork Poetry Society last month to offer local poets and wordsmiths, both professional and “secret,” a safe space to share their work. 

“My goal is to find more of the poets and their poetry out here on the East End and connect with them,” she said.

To join the North Fork Poetry Society, which currently has 13 members, one need only read at one of its events, which the group aims to host every four to six weeks, Ms. Kamakaris Keating said.

Looking toward the future, Ms. Kamakaris Keating — who has been a children’s librarian and a special education teacher — envisions the society expanding and hosting poetry workshops for children and teens in libraries, schools and other community spaces.

Ms. Kamakaris Keating has read her own poetry at Watershed Literary Events, Poetry at Poquatuck, the Acidic Ghost Spectral Reading Series, the Cornelia Street Café and the Greenport Maritime Festival. She also co-hosted and was featured at the Women’s Poetry Luncheon at Oakside Bloomfield Cultural Center in New Jersey.

The North Fork Poetry Society launched in April with a reading at Orient’s Poquatuck Hall that featured poets including Gladys Henderson, Pramila Venkateswaran, Estefany Molina, Verona Peñalba. 

That first reading was very special Ms. Kamakaris Keating said.

“My mind was blown each time [I heard somebody reading],” she said. “A lot of people don’t feel comfortable in poetry, and there was no sense of that … it literally was just warmth coming from the entire audience.”

Ms. Peñalba, a Greenport based artist, said she was interested in reading and joining the society to push herself beyond her comfort zone and express herself in a new way. She had a gut feeling that she had to say “yes” when Ms. Kamakaris Keating invited her to read at its inaugural event.

“I’m not promoting [my poetry],” Ms. Peñalba said. “I don’t want anything else other than to connect with other people. It was really special because [it included] established poets that had books … and then she had someone like me that [writes poetry] only for myself, so it was beautiful to see all of these different women and how each voice is so different.”

Photos by Melissa Azofeifa

The society’s second event was held June 2 at Pookaberry Café in Mattituck, where readers including Ms. Kamakaris Keating, Nadira Vlaun, Miriam Foster, Beth Young and café owner Peter Marcos were accompanied by music from George Cork Maul of Hidden City Orchestra

“I was already aiming to use [the café ] as a venue; the restaurant wasn’t going to satisfy me spiritually from an artistic standpoint,” Mr. Marco said. “I really want to use this place as a sanctuary and a venue for creative people to express themselves.”

To join the North Fork Poetry Society or get more information, email Ms. Kamakaris Keating at [email protected] or visit @northforkpoetrysociety on Instagram.