The Poetry Box® was founded in 2011 by Shawn Aveningo & Robert R. Sanders, who wholeheartedly believe that every day spent with the people you love, doing what you love, is a moment in life worth celebrating.
It all started out as our way to help people memorialize the special milestones in their lives by melding custom poems with photographic artwork for anniversaries, birthdays, holidays and other special occasions. For the first few years, our main focus was creating this Custom Poetic Art for a variety of clients (deployed soldiers, teachers, husbands, wives, grandchildren). Note: We are no longer offering this service, but invite you to view our gallery of past work below:
Samples of Commissioned Poetry Projects
While living in Sacramento, CA, word started to spread about The Poetry Box and Shawn was invited to host a monthly poetry series in a new Wine Tasting Room/Art Gallery in Folsom.
In February 2012, the Verse on the Vine® series was born, and for two years we enjoyed sharing poetry with a brand new audience at Petra’s Wine Gallery.
At the height of its success, we published a commemorative anthology honoring the many participants in the series before it ended in December 2013, which is when we decided to move to Portland, Oregon.
Of course, we didn’t waste anytime once we settled in Portland, and being inspired by the “Keep Portland Weird” moniker, we decided to introduce ourselves to the local literary scene with a call for submissions of poetry and stories related to Portland.
In November 2014, we released Keeping It Weird and packed the house at Ford Food & Drink with a fun Book Launch Celebration complete with live music and the fun, lively sharing of poetry with our new friends and neighbors.
It became obvious we had landed in the right town to call home. The Portland literary community has been very welcoming and supportive. Shawn became involved with the local women’s writing community known as VoiceCatcher. She volunteered to be a board member and re-designed and managed their online journal for 2 1/2 years. She and Robert also did the book and cover design for VoiceCatcher’s Ten-year anthology, She Holds the Face of the World.
It was also during this time, we started our flagship journal, The Poeming Pigeon. At first, we envisioned it to be one anthology about birds which we titled Poeming Pigeons. It then evolved into an bi-annual journal, each with a unique theme. Now starting its 4th year, The Poeming Pigeon journal is still going strong and attracting new poets from around the glove, with an average of 600-700 submissions per issue.
Who knew that facing my lifelong fear of birds would lead to building such a wonderful poetry community? By the way, I feed my little backyard juncos daily and have an app on my phone to identify all my new fine-feathered friends. Life is full of joyous surprises!
With the success of each book, our reputation for editing and designing quality literary books was growing. We were hired to design and publish books for author’s self-publishing memoirs, short stories, family histories and even an illustrated book about tarot cards. So we decided to also publish single author collections of local poets we knew and whose work we admired.
Beginning in 2018, we continue to expanded our passion for publishing poetry with the introduction of The Poetry Box Chapbook Prize and a new model for a more traditional book-publishing paradigm for both full-length poetry collections and chapbooks. We also have plans to offer ancillary support to our poets and authors in the form of marketing materials, book launches, and author websites.
So I guess you could say, our story is just getting started. Now let’s share yours.