Since 2012, I have been facilitating a Poetry Writing Group at our wonderful library. We meet the first Monday of the month, currently on Zoom as well as in person in the Grove Room. I truly cherish this monthly activity. It is an opportunity for poets to share their work in a non-judgemental environment. Over time, this community of mutual support has strengthened. Covid hit us hard, but we persevered on Zoom. Gradually, people are returning to the library, and new people are attending in person and on Zoom.

The group is open to everyone, no matter what their experience in writing poetry might be. I am always thrilled to welcome a new person, and it is a delight to watch people find words they never knew they had inside. It never ceases to amaze me when people respond to a prompt I have created, often turning out a draft of something wonderful in the 15-20 minutes of writing time. Sharing is always optional.

The format of the group is simple. At the beginning of the meeting, all poets are invited to share a poem they have written. After all the poems have been shared, I present a variety of poems by established poets that relate to my theme for the evening. The next step is to hand out a prompt, and everybody writes, usually about 15 minutes. I watch to see that most everyone is finished, and then those who wish to share what they’ve written will do so. Feedback is positive and appreciative.

Poets get to know one another and make new friends, respecting their differences and learning how to tap into their individual creative processes.

Our next meeting will be Monday February 6. Please join us!

Coffee Love

I never fail to think of you
With fresh coffee brewing
The smell permeating my kitchen
Wafting through the air
Filling my space
With memories

You are in my cup
I taste you thinking
As you read your newspaper
Coffee at the ready

Ah coffee!
Your chosen elixir
No piece of pumpkin pie
Chocolate cake
Banana bread
Or oatmeal raisin cookie
Fresh from the oven
Would be complete
Without that coffee

No matter how much
You craved that cake
You would wait
For coffee by your plate

Copyright 2020 by Gareth Mann Sitz

This is a simple poem I wrote after my husband passed away. I use a lot of memories in my personal work. I find it therapeutic to put my thoughts and feelings on paper. My personal work is quite different from the public poetry I write as Poet Laureate. It’s a real challenge each time I’m requested to write a poem that would normally be out of my comfort zone. It is getting easier for me as I grow into my role, and I am so grateful to be able to serve Elgin and share my love of poetry.

Prospective applicants to be the next Elgin Poet Laureate might want to practice a bit writing Elgin based poems. In the application process, submitting one or more poems about our city will be required. For starters, think about what you love about Elgin as a jumpsuit for a poem. Those poems will be shared in-person in February as a Valentine to our awesome city. Many LOVING ELGIN poems may be seen on our website. Read, enjoy, and write your own. And remember:

A poem
cannot be
good or bad
the way milk
can be
sweet or sour
or a berry
ripe or green

A poem
can only
speak for itself
and if it reaches
one person
that is

Copyright 1994 by Gareth Mann Sitz(

(Published in my first chapbook in 1996, with the support from a grant from the  City of Elgin’s Cultural Arts Commission))


September 8, there will be a reception for me at Gail Borden Public Library, something that couldn’t happen when I was first selected, due to CoVid restrictions. Refreshments will be served, and I will share some of my poetry and discuss poetry projects
for the coming year. You will have a chance to meet some of our other local poets as well. If you have ideas, please come and share them with me.

I have been Elgin’s second Poet Laureate for 6 and 1/2months now. I must admit, I really love my role and take it very seriously. When I meet people I do not know and we start to get to know one another, I happily and proudly tell them of my status. Part of the reason I am eager to tell people is to spread the word that Elgin HAS a poet laureate and to spread the word in the community. How can I serve the community if nobody knows that the Elgin Poet Laureate Project exists?

So I meet new people and they are generally receptive. They ask me what it is I actually do, and I tell them about my projects at the library and about my public presentations for the vigil in support of Ukraine, the 75th Anniversary of the Elgin Master Chorale, Memorial Day at Bliuff City Cemetery, and my ballad in tribute to Mike Alft, Elgin’s beloved historian, at his Celebration of Life. I tell them to visit this website to see and hear those poems; I tell them that any local organization can put in a request to schedule a poem to be presented; I tell them about the monthly Poetry Writing Workshop the first Monday of the moth in the Grove Room at Gail Borden Public Library.

Everywhere I go in Elgin, I strive to be an ambassador for poetry and its ability to serve the people of Elgin. My goal is to inform and educate the public about the joy of poetry and to make my words accessible to all. My goal is also to encourage all poets and would-be poets to write, because the future of the Elgin Poet Laureate Project depends on maintaining and increasing interest in the project. In the summer of 2023, applications for the third Elgin Poet Laureate will become available. My hope is that there is a healthy number of applicants for 2024-2025. As for me, I stand ready to mentor and encourage all applicants. When my tenure as Poet Laureate has completed, I will be happy to have a role on the EPLP committee and become part of the project’s support system for other Poet Laureates. I will continue to run my monthly Poetry Writing Group at Gail Borden, and I will be available for programs and workshops as needed.

I love poetry! And I love Elgin, having lived here since 1968. Hope to hear from you with questions and ideas!