Dutch artist Erik van Loon will stop in Lafayette en route to California

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LAFAYETTE, Ind. − There is a rhyme and a reason in Dutch artist Erik van Loon’s journey through Lafayette.

Van Loon is bringing his poetry event, the LA Poetry Beach Festival, back to the United States for its second year.

Prior to the festival, a three-day “poetry train” ride across the country will stop and pick up poets interested in attending the California-based festival, including Lafayette.

Van Loon is a multimedia artist and owner of the Dutch bookstore House of Craziness! Just as it did for its inaugural year in 2021, the LA Poetry Beach Festival will take place over five days — this year September 21-25 — three of those days of which will be on an Amtrak train traveling from Penn Station to New York to its final destination of Union Station in Los Angeles.

Along the way, the train will stop in a total of 64 U.S. cities in 20 states, picking up anyone with a passion for poetry and the arts interested in chatting and writing poetry on the way to the festival that will fill the final two days.

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When asked why van Loon decides every year to hold this festival in America rather than the Netherlands, he credits the length of the trip to his decision.

“In the Netherlands you would be done with the poetry train in three hours,” van Loon said. “The Netherlands is very small.”

Van Loon said that even if you extend it to a European train ride, language barriers would be a factor in communicating poetry, whereas that’s not necessarily an issue in the United States.

“It’s a 67-hour (total) trip,” van Loon said. “I’ve always dreamed of doing this trip ‘Around the World in Eighty Days’ by Jules Verne.”

The train ride will include a host of poetic events such as discussions, lectures and readings. Registration for the festival or for the train journey – with the exception of the purchase of a train ticket – is not compulsory. However, van Loon said anyone interested in taking the poetry train to the festival is encouraged to email the names of those planning to attend and their stopping location to [email protected] .

The cross-country trip will change trains once, according to van Loon, in Chicago.

The Amtrak train that will be used for the trip is not a private train and guests will be responsible for their own ticket. Van Loon said he would make himself known as a representative of the LA Poetry Beach Festival to attendees, so they could possibly sit in or around the same wagon.

Lafayette station where Erik van Loon will welcome Lafayette-based guests aboard the "poetry train."

Guests will be responsible for purchasing a festival ticket as well as their own transportation to their respective home states. Group meals will be partly provided in the form of a contribution from the invited guests. As of Tuesday, there are 6 people registered for the poetry train ride.

Indiana pickup locations will operate at the following times on September 22:

  • Connersville at 03:05
  • Indianapolis at 4:44
  • Crawfordsville at 7:28
  • Lafayette at 7:36 a.m.
  • Rensselaer at 7:40 a.m.
  • Dyeing at 8:43 a.m.
A photo of the Von Bookstore in West Lafayette.  Erik van Loon has already visited libraries and bookstores in the Greater Lafayette area.

Once the poetry train ride has successfully taken van Loon and his guests to Union Station, small group readings and discussion sessions will take place over the next two days at the station, Chevalier’s Books, Hotel Erwin , the Venice Beach Poets Monument and Griffith Park Observatory.

Transportation, including the poetry train ride as well as trips to the various venues during the festival in Los Angeles, will be provided. Accommodation between the fourth and fifth day of the festival will need to be arranged by individual guests.

September 15 is the deadline to submit a poem that falls under this year’s theme “Some People Never Go Crazy”, in honor of the famous American poet Charles Bukowski.

Submission of a poem is not required to attend the festival. However, it commits the writer to potential publication in the event’s anthology booklet. Submission costs $10 and can be done online at www.lapoetrybeach.com/submit.

Complete itineraries for the five-day festival events and more information on poetry train transportation can be found on the LA Poetry Beach Festival website, www.lapoetrybeach.com.

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