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Ancient City Poets


  • Saturday, September 11
  • 7:00pm (6:00pm Doors)

  • Art Studio of St. Augustine Beach

Featuring emcee Ben Atkinson and poets Cassandra DeGraff, Colleen Jones, Tonn Pastore, Princess Simpson Rashid, Jamie Lynn Stanish, Robert Waldner, and Lee Weaver.

Open Mic begins at 8:00pm. Times and lineup are subject to change.

ancient city poets

The Ancient City Poets are a loosely knit patchwork of poets who have been gathering for monthly open mic poetry readings in St. Augustine on the last Sunday of each month, since August of 2009. In March of last year when the world was hit by the Coronavirus pandemic, they morphed into an online open mic happening, through zoom. Thanks to this technology, their readings were viewed internationally on Facebook Live. Edited versions of the gatherings are posted on their YouTube Channel. Their open microphone series offers poets of all skill levels an opportunity to share their poems with a loving and supportive audience. Month after month, poets new and seasoned, young and old, prove that poetry is alive in the Nation’s Oldest City. Ancient City Poets currently gather inside at Kookaburra Coffee-Dondi located on Dondanville Road in St. Augustine Beach, Florida (4265 A1A South). Their Sunday, September 26th reading will be the official local observation of the global event: “100 Thousand Poets for Change.”


Ben Atkinson (showcase emecee) is an assistant professor of natural sciences at Flagler College. Active with Ancient City Poets, he has been a featured reader for the JaxByJax Literary Arts Festival, Sing Out Loud Festival, and Southeast Sister Cities Reading Tour. His poems are published in Cadence, Facets, FM Quarterly, and Refractions, among other outlets. His debut collection Spider Lightning (Hidden Owl, LLC.) was published in 2019.

Cassandra DeGraff has worked in salons and spas for the last 16 years. She is a mother of four children. Cassandra grew up in a house full of artists and writers. She moved from Key West to Saint Augustine in 2014. Cassandra has been with the Ancient City Poets since 2015.

Colleen Jones is a native of New York who currently lives in Saint Augustine. She is a veteran journalist who has lived in nearly ten states in her career and had the privilege of telling the stories of folks from all walks of life.

Patricia Konover is a writer and visual artist, retired from a career in Education Administration. She hails from a small island in Southern New Jersey, moved to SW FL in 1973, and, seeking new adventures in a culture rich with history, art, and music, headed to Saint Augustine in 2000.

Tonn Pastore lives and works at the beach. He is the author of Convergence (Closet Books, 2003), and Mark my Words (2019).

Princess Simpson Rashid is an American visual artist, designer and writer. She was raised in New Jersey with roots in Georgia. Now a resident of Florida, Rashid serves as a contributing member of the Ancient City Poets and recently selected to be a featured reader at the 2021 JaxbyJax Literary Arts Festival.

Jamie Lynn Stanish is a proud feminist human being who enjoys fumbling fingers on her ukulele while attempting to sing instead of scream, getting lost in deep conversations with friends over crafty cocktails, practicing yoga, and running miles and miles while pondering the purpose of life. Her mixed media artwork, No Longer Silent was published in A River Rising – Anthology of Women’s Voices produced by Women Writing for a Change, Jacksonville, Florida.

Robert Waldner has been a dedicated poet and writer since childhood. His life experiences have largely shaped his literary works. Robert has been an active member of Ancient City Poets since 2013 and has led many of the monthly open mics. For the past 5 years he has actively written articles for multiple Northeast Florida publications. You can also find his poetry and essays in various literary anthologies.

Lee Weaver is known in Saint Augustine as a playwright, an actor, and a poet. With his wife Nanette, the couple travels all over the country, performing their Special OPS (One Person Shows) on the social issues of our day. Weaver had a TV program for ten years in New Jersey. Weaver maintains a gallery in Saint Augustine where his one of a kind Light Boxes may be seen. Additionally, he is an auctioneer, bicyclist, motivational speaker, and a vocal soloist.


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