My Catawba County

A Gathering of Poets

A Gathering of Poets

Catawba County is known not just for its arts, but for its artists – including its poets. Poetry Hickory, a monthly get-together organized by published poet and LRU poetry professor Scott Owens, helps create community around poetry through readings, discussions, and an open mic forum. And where else would it happen than at Taste Full Beans, the iconic downtown Hickory coffeehouse owned by Owens and his wife, Julie? Scott – who has authored 19 collections of poetry and counting – fills us in on what Poetry Hickory is all about.

What is Poetry Hickory?
Poetry Hickory is a monthly reading series in its 16th year that brings well-known writers to Hickory and gives Hickory writers the opportunity to share their work

Where and when does it take place?
Poetry Hickory takes place on the second Tuesday of each month from 6:30 to 8:00 at Taste Full Beans Coffeehouse in downtown Hickory

What inspired you to start Poetry Hickory?
Every town needs a reading series to help contemporary poets and poetry readers find each other.

How are the monthly featured readings chosen?
Writers with new books usually contact me and ask for a featured slot. Many of them have read at Poetry Hickory before and want to return.

How can someone participate in the open mic portion of the meeting?
The Open Mic consists of 10-15 readers, each allowed 3 minutes to share their work. The slots are given out on a first come first serve basis.

What kind of community has formed around Poetry Hickory?
We have always had a core group of about 10-12 local writers or readers who attend most events, although that core has changed over the years as people have moved into or out of the area. An additional 10 to 20 participate less consistently. And there are always a few new people at each event. The core group has periodically established critique groups as well.

Where can people learn about upcoming meetings?
Upcoming readings are posted on the website at, on the Taste Full Beans Facebook page, and on fliers at Taste Full Beans. I also send out a monthly email blast to anyone who has given me their email address for that purpose.

Is there anything you would like to add about Poetry Hickory?
Poetry Hickory has held nearly 200 readings in Hickory, giving published authors, including 3 NC Poet Laureates, the opportunity to connect with a local audience, and giving local writers the opportunity to share their work and connect with others who enjoy the written/spoken word. The audience is accepting and supportive, so it makes a wonderful place for young writers to gain some experience sharing their work with others.