28th Annual Poetry Marathon & Benefit

Sat. & Sun., JANUARY 29th & 30th, 2022 | 10 am-10 pm CT

​​For more than a quarter-century, poetry-loving folk from Milwaukee and the region have traditionally convened at Woodland Pattern on the last Saturday of January to participate in a 15-hour Marathon reading. In 2021, unable to safely host the event in person at the book center, we opted for a live streamed version and—to compensate for not being in person—expanded the Poetry Marathon to 24 hours, ultimately welcoming 268 participants as well as more than 2,000 audience members who hailed not only from Milwaukee and Wisconsin but also from across the United States and 18 different countries. 

Now the time is nigh again, and once again we are planning for a 24-hour virtual Marathon. All 24 hours will be live streamed via Crowdcast and the event will feature 240+ poets, as well as improvisational music, short films, and other performances. As usual, each hour will feature 10 or more poets reading for up to 5 minutes each, plus remarks and conversation among curators, our staff, and audience members. Chat will be enabled throughout so we can all show our love and support for poets in real time, and say hello to one another as we come and go. 

In addition to being an amazing event and an annual tradition, the Poetry Marathon serves as a community-driven fundraiser. Each reader is asked to raise a small amount of funds among family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc., and/or via social media, with a goal of $40 in pledges on each reader’s behalf. Those contributions are then matched by a corporate or private sponsor for the hour and supplemented by major sponsorships. For years, funds raised through the Marathon in January have kept Woodland Pattern going strong, fueling our operations and making possible all of our programming for the year ahead. 

Thank you in advance for honoring the many individual creative practices that compose and enrich our vast community. As always it's the grand mix of voices—of beginning, emerging, and established writers; of people of various ages, cultural backgrounds, and life experiences—that makes Woodland Pattern's Poetry Marathon an authentic celebration of our shared humanity and the possibilities of language.  

Check back here in January for event links and a full schedule of readings.

REGISTER TO READ: See information below.

SPONSOR A POET: Click on the link below or give us a call to sponsor a reader. You can make your donation on the behalf of a particular poet, or if you’re unsure who to sponsor, consider a “Pledge a Reader” donation. Money received through these donations will go directly to a poet who is unable to meet the $40 pledge goal. This is a great way to support Woodland Pattern and a poet—win-win!

If you prefer, you can also give us a call at 414-263-5001 to sponsor a reader, or send a check donation to: Woodland Pattern, 720 E Locust St, Milwaukee, WI 53212. Please be sure to include the reader's name, if relevant.


SPONSOR AN HOUR: Each hour of the Marathon is matched by a sponsor for that hour. To underwrite an hour now, click on the link below. We can also accept sponsorships by mail or over the phone.

MAJOR SPONSORSHIPS: In addition to hour sponsorships, the Poetry Marathon is supported by major sponsors at the presenting, premier, and supporting levels. To inquire about major sponsorships, contact Executive Directors Jenny Gropp and Laura Solomon.

If you would like to learn more about sponsorships, please download our sponsorship materials below, or give us a call at 414-263-5001 or email us at info[at]woodlandpattern[dot]org.


Like last year, celebrated small presses are being invited to curate hours in addition to those curated by local and regional poets and organizations. But please note—you do not have to be affiliated with any particular group to participate! Nor do you need to be far along in your practice or have experience performing your poems. The Marathon has always included people who are reading their poetry before an audience for the very first time.

Word of advice: Be sure to register early! Marathon slots always fill quickly. If you happen to register after all open slots have been filled, your name will be put on a waitlist and you will be notified if a space opens up. And finally, don't forget to check out our FAQs for poets. 


For general registration, click on "open registration" or call us at 414-263-5001 to sign up as a reader. If you have been invited to take part in a curated hour, click on "curated hours" to fill out your registration information and select the curator or group you're affiliated with. 


The link below will take you to Woodland Pattern's Submittable account where you can upload your materials. In addition to submitting a video, we ask that you upload the text of your reading for captioning purposes. Deadline for materials submission is Wednesday, December 15, 2021. 


Q: I've read in the in-person Marathon before—how will the virtual Marathon be different?

A: For participating poets, one key difference (beyond the fact that your reading will be pre-recorded) is that you will not need to sign up for a specific time to read. That said, you can contact us if you have preferences about when your performance is broadcast, and we will do our best to honor requests. All poets will receive confirmation about when their reading will air from our Literary Program Director Mike Wendt in January. 

Q: What platform(s) will be available for people to watch the Marathon?

A: This year's Marathon will presented via Crowdcast and simultaneously streamed over Facebook and Youtube. Attendees will not need to download a platform like Zoom or enter a registration code to attend.

Q: Do I have to register online?

A: No, you can also give us a call at 414-263-5001 and we can assist you.


Q: Does it cost $40 to read?

A: No, the $40 pledge for each poet is not meant as an entry fee, but as a minimum fundraising goal. Poets are asked to find sponsors to help meet that goal. By asking people to sponsor you, you not only help us raise funds, but also help spread the word about the Marathon and your performance in it.

Q: I'm not sure if I can raise $40. What if I can't meet the pledge goal?

A: Click here for a list of fundraising strategies that have been successful for other participating poets in the past. In our experience, most of the time poets are able to find donations to help them meet the minimum pledge goal. However, if you try and just aren't able, you will not be turned away! 

Q: How do I create a good video?

A: Click here for tips!

Q: I want to perform in the Marathon and read the tips but am still not sure how to record a video of myself.

A: If you'd like us to assist you with your video recording, we are happy to do that by scheduling a Zoom call with you or recording you in our gallery. For help creating your video, please contact us at the link below or call 414-263-5001. 

Q: Can my video go over 5 minutes?

A: As always, each poet participating in the Marathon is asked to limit their performance to five minutes. Part of what makes the Marathon so special is the equality of time and attention afforded each participant and the variety of poets who appear side by side. Keeping your video to five minutes ensures that everyone's voice is heard.

Q: How do I send Woodland Pattern my video?

A: After you've registered, you will receive instructions for uploading your video via Submittable. You'll also be asked to provide the text to your poems for closed captioning purposes. If you have registered and would like to submit your materials now, click on the "Submit Your Materials" button. Attention: please do not submit your materials without registering first!

Q: I'm having trouble uploading my video—help!

A: Please contact us at the link below or call 414-263-5001. We will respond as soon as possible.

We acknowledge that in Milwaukee we live and work on traditional Potawatomi, Ho-Chunk, and Menominee homelands along the southwest shores of Michigami, part of North America’s largest system of freshwater lakes, where the Milwaukee, Menominee, and Kinnickinnic rivers meet and the people of Wisconsin’s sovereign Anishinaabe, Ho-Chunk, Menominee, Oneida, and Mohican nations remain present. 

We further acknowledge the grave evil colonialism introduced to these lands ​through genocide as well as slavery, and also via racist and xenophobic ​beliefs, laws​, and practices that continue to inflict harm upon Black, brown, and Indigenous lives. We honor those who have lived—and do live, now—at these intersections of identity and experience, and are committed to the active dismantling of white supremacy.

Read our statement on racial justice

720 E. Locust Street
Milwaukee, WI 53212
Phone: 414 263 5001

Hours: Tues–Sun | 12-7 pm (starting June 1)

Closed Mon

Contactless pick-up: Wed–Fri | 2–6 pm, Sat | 2–5 pm

Building Accessibility: Despite the age of our physical location, and attendant limitations to access, Woodland Pattern is committed to making its programs and facilities available for as many as possible. Please call for more information.

Events Accessibility: Woodland Pattern is able to offer captioning services for its online events and with advanced notice can provide ASL interpretation for live events. Please contact us with accommodation requests and questions.

© Woodland Pattern 2021