As an up-and-coming locale for artists, more and more people are finding that in Binghamton, creativity can lessen the gap between students and the community. The Binghamton Poetry Project (BPP) does that by providing free writing workshops in the Broome County area for children, teens and adults.
Founded in 2011 by Nicole Santalucia, who received her doctorate in creative writing from Binghamton University in 2014, the Binghamton Poetry Project creates opportunities for creative writing Ph.D. candidates at the University to conduct workshops, making art accessible in Broome County. Program director Heather Dorn and a team of instructors and interns work to encourage local writers of all levels to use their creativity. As instructors, they help dismantle the idea that poetry is a lofty, pretentious art form.
“I’m really lucky to say this is my fifth semester working with the BPP, and I’ve seen some incredible poetry get made and teased out over that time,” wrote Brian Trimboli, a Binghamton Poetry Project instructor, in an email. “I’ve gotten to work with adults and children, as well as veterans, and they’ve consistently shown me what a little bit of encouragement can do for the sake of art.”
Funding from the Binghamton Center for Writers as well as grants from the Broome County Arts Council and Chenango Arts Council allow the Binghamton Poetry Project to provide its free workshops.
“We recently expanded to form a second Adult workshop, due to calls from the community for increased services,” Dorn wrote. “Our mission is to enhance the lives of Broome County residents through poetry, and residents are responding to our services by asking for more.”
Clara Barnhart, Poetry Project assistant director and a first-year Ph.D. candidate studying creative writing, will take over as director next year.
“From my experience the best thing about working with the poetry project has been making meaningful and lasting connections with members of the community,” Barnhart wrote in an email. “There are so many people in Binghamton outside of the University who have interesting stories to tell and a passion for learning that is candid and refreshing.”
During workshops, participants produce poems, as well as discuss the poems written during that session. Writers can get feedback on their work and learn new writing techniques and forms. While the Binghamton Poetry Project promotes an appreciation of the arts, the organization also fosters a community of writers.
“Many people write but never have the type of community that BPP offers — friendship, knowledge and of course poetry,” wrote Kristen Williamson, a BPP intern and class of 2015 BU graduate, in an email.
The organization also publishes an anthology twice a year, once in the fall and once in the spring. Any participant who has attended a workshop can submit to the publication, and BPP does its best to publish all submissions. The anthology is tangible proof of the growth of artistry in the community.
“We honestly don’t do much other than enable; the poetry is very much already here,” Trimboli wrote. “Binghamton is full of art, and I think programs like BPP help to show the community members how connected they already are.”
The Binghamton Poetry Project’s workshop schedule can be found on their blog, as well as on the English department’s website. This year’s fall adult workshops will be held at the Broome County Public Library on Court Street throughout the month of October. Binghamton University students are welcome to attend.