History of Nexus Poets
Nexus Poets was established by Sam Love, Meg Wethington, and Alan Welch, and grew out of an occasional poetry reading at the local library in New Bern, North Carolina. The loosely formed group soon decided to see if there was enough interest in a monthly poetry open mic.
The first “official” open mic was held in April of 2014 at the Trent River Coffee Company in downtown New Bern and convinced Sam and Meg to start a monthly open mic, starting in September of 2014.
Originally the group simply referred to the monthly event as the “First Tuesday Open Mic.” The format opened with a featured poet followed by poets who signed up to read. The evening consisted of two sets with a social period in between.
In April of 2015 Sam and Meg decided to name the fledgling group Nexus Poets, after the nexus of New Bern’s two rivers, the Trent River and the Neuse River, as described in Sam’s poem “New Bern Nexus.” Meg started the group’s Facebook page, and one of the group’s early supporters, Alan Welch, designed the first logo and took photos at many of the monthly events.
Over the years, the open mic developed into a significant poetry community, encouraging both regulars and newcomers to read.
Featured Poets have included accomplished local poets of all ages and styles: students from Craven Early College High School; Earl Mills, author of the book From Illiterate to Poet; the Watkins sisters, twins from Kinston who incorporate song into their recitations; and the late Tom Blow, who read his work at the coffeehouse well into his 90s.
And Nexus Poets also has welcomed a number of well-established poets such as Peter Makuck, Amber Flora Thomas, Luke Whisnant, and Gabrielle Brant Freeman, as well as two of North Carolina’s Poet Laureates, Shelby Stephenson and Jaki Shelton Green.
For the first several years an ad hoc committee coordinated the monthly events with no formal organization, but in 2018 the group decided to formally organize as a community not-for-profit group governed by a board and officers. Suzannah, the board’s vice-president, designed the Nexus Poets website and enhanced Alan’s original logo in 2019.
To support poetry in eastern North Carolina all are encouraged to join Nexus Poets at $20 per calendar year.
After the Trent River Coffee Company closed, the group wandered about town for a few months before finding a new home at the Harrison Center on Middle Street in downtown New Bern. In keeping with the group’s early mission to pay Ed, the owner of the coffeehouse where it all started, we still “pass the hat” during our brief intermission each month in order to pay for our space.