The Open Mouth Literary Center was founded in 2015 (as the Open Mouth Reading Series) to foster contact between professional poets and our local Northwest Arkansas community outside an academic setting. Our founders saw that institutional barriers limited access to the literary community and believed that poetry should be available to all. Since then, we’ve hosted over 160 poets at our readings, workshops, festivals, special events, and retreats, and since gaining 501(c)(3) status in 2017, we’ve paid all featured poets. Paying poets allows us to empower under-supported writers by offering fair compensation, ensuring that our programming centers diverse voices.
At the start of the pandemic, Open Mouth moved programming online, and wrote a grant to hire a disability consultant. We saw that we couldn’t truly follow our mission to make literary poetry accessible outside of academia without making it accessible for Disabled folks. Since then, we’ve received additional support with grants from Creative Arkansas Community Hub and Exchange (CACHE), the Alternate ROOTS Solidarity Fund, the Arkansas Arts Council, and the Poetry Foundation, as well as from the ARt Connect program with Mid-America Arts Alliance. We’ve also increased support from our monthly donors on Patreon and other individual contributors, for which we are extremely grateful. This support is vital to our continued success.
Support Our Writers Residency
Recently, we partnered with Mount Sequoyah Center’s Creative Spaces program to create a Residency for local poets. We have prioritized poets without current institutional support when selecting residents, who each receive one month in the studio. This enables poets who might otherwise experience cost barriers to access the Creative Spaces program, providing them with a generative space to write in surrounded by a community of other artists. We have also ensured that our studio space is on the ground floor to make it more accessible.
The first cycle of Residents included 12 local poets, one for each month in 2021, and was supported by local artist Adrienne Callander with Little Sweater Hug, a live-knitting project that took place at The Momentary as part of the community response to their exhibition Nick Cave: Until. The sweaters Callander knitted were sold in The Momentary shop with proceeds donated to fund this Residency.
However, to continue this Residency we will need additional support from our community. That’s why, this year for Giving Tuesday, we are focusing on raising $1800, which will pay for the Residency space through 2022 and ensure 12 more local poets benefit from the time and space to focus on their work. We hope to open applications soon for our next cycle, and you can support this program here or by signing up to give regularly on our Patreon.
Thank you for helping us create spaces for poetry outside of academia by attending our events, sharing our posts on social media, and making moves toward greater accessibility. And thank you to everyone who has already donated! We know there are a myriad of deserving organizations, and we are honored to have your support.
Become a monthly patron: Nonprofits like us rely on monthly donors for most of our funding, including funding for our reader honoraria and ASL interpreters. Knowing how much money we can count on in future months from our regular supporters is key to our future planning abilities and lets us know what events to plan for. Even small contributions, like $5 a month, add up! All of our monthly Patreon subscribers now have early access to recordings of readings and workshops, so sign up to avoid the wait!
One time donation: You may also make a one time donation via PayPal here.