By Julie Lawrence Special to Published Jan 26, 2008 at 5:11 AM

On Saturday, Jan. 26, Woodland Pattern Book Center -- 720 E. Locust St. -- celebrates its 13th annual Poetry Reading Marathon. Anne Kingsberry, Woodland Pattern's executive director, remembers the inaugural event she helped host in 1995.

"It was actually my brainstorm to begin with," she says. "We were inspired by the St. Mark's Poetry Project in New York, which is a big community poetry reading that they do every year on New Years Day."

Milwaukee's version has been a tremendous success, growing significantly each year, she says.

"After a few years, we realized that if we wanted more and more people to participate, we'd have to limited each reader to five minutes."

Even with the short time limit this year's event is booked solid with readers and performers from 10 a.m. to 1 a.m.

"We've got a 12-hour event on our hands and we'll keep going as long as people want to read original work," she says. Understanding that not everyone will be able to stick it out for the entire show, Woodland Pattern will offer hand stamps for guests who wish to leave and come back.

The marathon is open to poetry, fiction, prose, performance art, music or any combination, but each performer is required to raise at least $35 in pledges.

"The event is an important fundraiser for us," says Kingsberry. "It allows us to keep going and let's us continue to offer our services to the community at a reasonable price."

The community, she says -- Riverwest in particular -- has been crucial to not only the success of the Poetry Marathons, but also the bookshop as a whole.

"Several Riverwest neighborhood businesses, like Maedke's Chiropractic Clinic and Mobile Car Care, have been continuous Poetry Marathon underwriters since the first year."

This year's performers include University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's adjunct assistant professor Susan Firer,'s Molly Snyder Edler and JoAnn Chang, who Kingsberry says has been involved since the beginning.

"We always have our core readers who return each year, but we've got lots of newcomers this year. And actually, I've been noticing that people are traveling from Chicago, Madison and Green Bay to come read poetry with us in Milwaukee."

Ticket prices for the Poetry Reading Marathon are $6 for members, $7 for students and seniors and $8 for the general public. Woodland Pattern Book Center's Web site is

Julie Lawrence Special to staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.

As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”