Kai Coggin at Wednesday Night Poetry's 30th Anniversary celebration, held Feb. 6, 2019 Brian Chilson

Social distancing and staying home is the only reasonable public health policy for the moment in Arkansas, but how do you stomach canceling when your weekly poetry gathering is on a hot 1,625-week streak?

You don’t, if you’re Wednesday Night Poetry director Kai Coggin. The legendarily long-running poetry series in Hot Springs goes live tonight at 7 p.m. CST on the WNP Facebook page, with “video poems” from over 40 poets near and far presented as a “virtual open mic.”


Or, as the event page puts it:

WNP is physically held each week at Kollective Coffee+Tea in Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas, but is now held virtually to poets all over the world!


WNP, founded by the late Bud Kenny, is the longest running consecutive weekly poetry open mic series in the country, never missing a single week of poetry since February 1, 1989. Ever. As I write this, this Wednesday will be 1,626 weeks in a row, and we will continue our legacy, even through this dark and uncertain time. Through floods and hurricanes and city-wide blackouts, there was still Wednesday Night Poetry. One time when the whole city shut down in an ice-storm, one of the die-hards Dr. Paul Tucker walked with his wife Suzanne to the street outside the venue, and read her a love poem in the icy moonlight, just so we could keep our legacy alive.


Each week, one of our local poets is safely going to be on the sidewalk in front of Kollective Coffee+Tea to read a poem physically, as long as that is allowed. The majority of our poets will be sharing virtually, which Kai will curate and share in one post each week. This virtual space is open for all to share. We are poets of heart here. We are proud of our poetry legacy, and we will keep our streak going as long as we can, through this uncertain time. We will hold each other up.