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Local publisher finds audience for poetry readings

By: Ben Mackin
The State Journal

When Larry Moore came up with the idea of putting on a poetry reading at Mortimer Bibb’s Public House on St. Clair Street, he thought it would be a one-off event. 

Moore, the managing partner for the Frankfort based book publisher Broadstone Books, said that the COVID-19 pandemic had inspired a lot of people to read and/or write poetry. 

As a result of the surge in interest, Broadstone began organizing virtual poetry readings during the pandemic lockdown that Moore said were very popular. 

As COVID concerns began to wane, Moore decided to move forward with an in-person reading. 

“April is National Poetry Month,” Moore said. “It is the one month of the year where people who do not pay any attention to poetry the rest of the year will come out.”

On April 28, Moore along with the pub’s proprietors, Karl Lawrence and Jason Newton, hosted the first Poetry @ the Pub event featuring Lexington-based poet Eric Scott Sutherland reading from his selected works. 

Moore said that he had envisioned a handful of poetry lovers would attend and that the whole event would fit in one of the pub’s back rooms.

Instead 18 people showed up, forcing the event to move into the main barroom. Moore said that the people who attended enjoyed the art form and the community. 

“We thought, well, we could call that a one-off event for poetry month or maybe this is an indication that there really is some interest in this,” he said.

Taking the month of May off, Broadstone and Mortimer Bibb’s held another reading in honor of Pride Month on June 16 featuring Jay McCoy.

The crowd for the June reading numbered well over 20.

“It was very well received,” Moore noted. “With that we kind of said, ‘OK, I think we have a series.’ We have the makings at least. As proof of concept, at least some people will come out for poetry in a pleasant environment.”

This month’s edition of Poetry @ the Pub will take place on Thursday, July 14 at 7 p.m. and it will feature the award winning poet and Kentucky native Maurice Manning.

Going forward Moore said that he plans to introduce poets to the Frankfort area and vice versa. 

“I have made a lot of friends in the literary community over the years,” Moore said. “So that gives me the opportunity to bring in people that I know will be good and to be honest are not necessarily the poets who people around here have heard.”

He has and will continue to feature Frankfort based poets at local events, but for the next few readings he has lined up poets from outside the immediate area. 

For information on Broadstone Books or Mortimer Bibb’s Public House, check out their respective websites.



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