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Two months out

Poetry takes center stage in NYC —in April and every month


very third Sunday af ter- noon, folks gather at St. John Lutheran Church, New York,

N.Y., for Kairos Poetry Café, which plays host to poets, musicians, and performing and visual artists. The café (www.cafekairos.

org), founded in 1998 at Washing- ton Square Methodist Church in Greenwich Village, was called Peace and Justice Coffee House. Founder Robin Small-McCarthy wanted it to be a “podium for parishioners to express their ideas about injus- tice and social change,” said current organizer and host Alan Baxter. St. John opened its doors to the café when Washington

vital to the Christian experience.” Artists read a poem, sing a song,

play a musical instrument or act out a dramatic scene. Some original plays that have been performed at Kairos went on to small theaters off- Broadway, he said. It was also one of the first clubs to show visual poems (the form or arrangement of the text or its images are an important part of the poem itself). Other Kairos featured perform-

Lennart Vretholm performs at the Kairos Poetry Café.

Square Church closed. An array of artists steps through those doors and up to the microphone, but many of them are poets. Baxter and Small-McCarthy often read from their published poetry. Because of its emphasis on poetry, April is an important

month for the café—it is, after all, National Poetry Month. Marion Palm, poet-in-residence for St. Jacobi Lutheran

Church, Brooklyn, and fel- low Lutheran and musi- cian Lennart Vretholm were featured artists last April. Vretholm set a sonnet of Shakespeare to music that he com- posed and has performed locally. He also accompa- nied Palm on the violin as she recited “Secrets,” a poem she’s read on radio, television and in local high schools. Baxter said the venue

is open to everyone, regardless of beliefs, race or sexual orientation. “Anyone who attends has a chance to perform,” he said. “We strive for the egalitarian spirit that is


ers have included Roman Catholic activist Daniel Berrigan and jazz composer Paul Knopf, who is a vet-

eran performer for the popular and long-standing jazz mass at St. Peter Lutheran Church in Manhattan. “If you’re in the Manhattan neighborhood of Christopher

Street and Seventh Avenue on the third Sunday afternoon of the month, look up and you’ll see the church towers of St. John’s,” Baxter said. “Then come join Kairos and read your material.” 

Send congregational stories—those for a specifi c month/holiday or your best timeless idea—to


Emma Porter (left), Matthew O’Rear and Zack Dean distribute ashes and prayers.

Good one! Ashes to go

his will be the fourth year that Gus- tavus Adolphus Lutheran Church in New York City takes to the street with ashes, prayer and God’s love on Ash Wednesday (Feb. 10 this year). Last year 15 “ambassadors of God’s grace” (lay and clergy) set up sites in city parks, the subway, on the streets and even in a pub, distributing ashes and prayer to more than 800 city dwellers. “Consistently there were tears,” said Christopher Mietlowski, pastor, as members prayed for the recipients after asking their name and whether they had a prayer request.

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