Lawrence Public Library is celebrating National Poetry Month; also, Sloane Crosley visiting, plus feline fun with ‘Caturdays’

April marks National Poetry Month, and the Lawrence Public Library is celebrating the occasion with several poetry-themed programs for readers of all ages.

The series, which officially kicked off Wednesday with a kid-friendly “poetry cafe,” is part of a nationwide effort to increase awareness and appreciation of poetry, with countless schools, libraries, booksellers and publishers taking part.

Vanessa Reynaga, volunteer coordinator at the Lawrence library, has helped to organize some of this month’s programming. A writer herself, Reynaga hopes April 19’s open mic night will offer a “greater platform” to local poets and other artists, specifically Lawrence’s black creative community.

The event, slated for 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Maceli’s Banquet Hall & Catering, 1031 New Hampshire St., will start with readings from BLACK Lawrence, or Black Literature & Arts Collective of Kansas, Lawrence, before opening the stage to guests. Part of the collective’s mission is to provide networking opportunities for black artists of various mediums living and working in Lawrence.

“I just thought it would be really cool to open it up to a wider community,” Reynaga said of the group, which launched less than a year ago.

“It’ll be a night filled with mostly poetry and music, and you’ll be able to engage with the art,” she said. “There’ll also be chance to network with other local poets in the area.”

Also on the docket this month: a “rap session” with Lawrence rapper Cuee, on April 13. The teen-focused event will feature a live performance by Cuee, with chances for aspiring artists to ask the Chicago native about lyric creativity, self-promotion and what it takes to make it in the music industry. The free program begins at 4 p.m. in the library auditorium, 707 Vermont St.

Capping off the month is April 27’s “Poetry on Demand,” during that evening’s Final Friday gallery crawl. On that night from about 5 to 6 p.m., poets will be stationed around various Final Friday venues, creating customized poems on the spot for those who stop to visit. Some locations include the library, the Lawrence Arts Center and The Raven Book Store.

“People can come up to those poets, have a conversation, and they’ll leave with a poem in hand,” said Reynaga, who participated in a similar project in Los Angeles.

All National Poetry Month events are free and open to the public.

Author Sloane Crosley visiting

Poetry celebrations aside, April is shaping up to be a busy month at the library. Sloane Crosley, best-selling author and essayist, will read and discuss her latest work during “An Evening with Sloane Crosley,” slated for 7 to 9 p.m. April 14 at the library.

Crosley is the award-winning writer of essay collections “I Was Told There’d be Cake” and “How Did You Get This Number,” and has seen her work featured in Elle, Esquire, GQ, Vogue and The New York Times Book Review, among others. Her newest collection of essays, “Look Alive Out There,” was released earlier this month to positive reviews.

Caturdays in April

In other library-related — but perhaps less literary — news, the Lawrence Humane Society and the Lawrence Public Library are teaming up this month to help our feline friends in need. The perfectly named “Caturdays in April” will deliver a new cat-themed activity every Saturday this month, with the goal of raising awareness for fostering and adopting cats.

Spring is “kitten season,” the time of year when animal shelters are flooded with homeless and orphaned kittens. Library guests will have the chance to interact with little critters on several occasions this month, starting with a “kitten shower” from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday at the library. Learn how to care for tiny kittens during the shower’s bottle feeding demonstration, or help pick names for the Humane Society’s new litters, donate to kitten fostering efforts or assemble supplies.

Next up is kitten yoga, scheduled for 1 to 2 p.m. April 14 at the library. The cats aren’t the ones doing the yoga in this scenario — instead, guests will be treated to an hour of yoga with tiny kittens wandering about. The library asks that folks register in advance for this one. RSVP with Ian Stepp, information services assistant, at, or by calling the library at 843-3833. Yoga mats are not provided.

Rounding out the month: kitten read-alongs (kids can practice their reading with help from cute cats) from 1 to 3 p.m. April 21, and a cat cafe (complete with drinks, cat crafts and some feline facts, plus more kittens) slated for 1 to 3 p.m. April 28.