Jennifer Dotson of Highland Park Makes Poetry Public

Highland Park Poetry (HPP), the brainchild of Jennifer Dotson, is raising awareness for poetry in the northern suburbs—including getting poetry by local writers displayed on Pace buses.

Envisioning a community forum for poetry, Dotson—a published poet and mother of two—started HPP in 2007. With a steady stream of creativity, she’s the organization’s engine (not to mention the second place winner in Make It Better’s 2010 Poetry Contest).

“Poetry is an often neglected art, lacking the flash and glamour of the performing and visual arts,” she says. “Poetry is not part of our everyday culture and many adults have bitter memories about being forced to analyze poems in high school English. Some folks are afraid of poetry for the same reason. Also, poets work alone which leads to a sense of isolation.”

The mission of the HPP is to be a community-wide celebration of words that shares poetry with audiences of all ages and creates opportunities for local poets, through writing workshops, readings and displays.

This year, HPP launched its mobile poetry project, Poetry That Moves, outfitting Pace buses with inspiring poems. Students from Highland Park High School design the accompanying graphics. For the 2011 project, Lake Forest College students will translate each mobile poem so that it appears in English and Spanish.

And you could have your poem on a bus! Poetry that Moves is accepting submissions August 1 through October 1. Submit inspiring poems of up to 16 lines—download the submission form at

HPP’s on-line Muses’ Gallery features poems and photographs from the profound to the playful.

Monthly poetry open mics, previously held at Borders in Highland Park, are now being hosted by The Art Center in Highland Park. “We hope they’ll be our new artistic home,” Jennifer says.

Jennifer’s volunteer work through HPP, which operates on a shoestring budget, is enhanced by her job as an executive assistant for the Village of Highland Park. HPP is supported by a number of community businesses, organizations, and individual volunteers.

Join HPP in partaking in poetry:

You’re welcome to submit poems and photographs anytime to the Muses’ Gallery, and to the Poetry that Moves contest through October 1, at (no Highland Park residency requirement)

Open mic, the 2nd Friday of each month (upcoming readings are on August 13 and September 17, 2010), 8 p.m., at The Art Center in Highland Park (arrive early to sign up to read)

Check out for other HPP-sponsored poetry events.

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