Whatever name it’s going by these days, wiki or public or community journalism, the participation of our readers in reflecting the life and times of the Triangle has long been important to the Independent. We regularly run First Person columns, Front Porch essays and, of course, Back Talk letters, and now have lively discussions in the comments section of our online edition. Coming up we have two of our mainstays of reader involvement: the poetry issue and the Best of the Triangle, both of which are now accepting submissions. (Click to see last year’s winners: Poetry Contest; Best of the Triangle Reader Survey.)

Our poetry contest is in its 14th year, always growing and stretching like the Triangle and its people. We received more than 200 entries last year, and the winners took us from Fiji to San Francisco to Calcutta to Auschwitz. The depth and breadth of the entries are a constant amazement to our judges and editors.

“People don’t feel confined to write about this region, which is one of the beautiful things about poetrythat it allows people to narrate their imaginations in a very few words and to move them beyond the physical limits of their existence,” says David Fellerath, our arts and entertainment editor, who’s organizing the contest. “That’s one of the things that poetry allows people to do, to transport us to other places and other states of being in a very economical way.

“What’s interesting is that poetry is certainly the least remunerative form of writing there is, yet many people do it. We discover that every year when we do this, how many poets are out there, and how many good ones there are.”

Making the initial screenings this year are three talented writers: Brian Howe, a poet and editor for Paste magazine; Alice Osborn, a Raleigh poet who has written music and book reviews for the Indy; and Tanya Olson, a poet who teaches at Vance-Granville Community College and the Center for Documentary Studies. The final judge will be Michael Chitwood, a leading local poet and writer who’s known for his commentaries on WUNC-FM and has just published a new book of poetry, From Whence.

Read details about the poetry contest here. The deadline for submissions is April 6, the winning poems will be published on April 25, and the winners (and some of the judges) will be honored at a reading April 28 at Quail Ridge Books & Music in Raleigh.

This year’s Best of the Triangle issue on June 13 will feature not just your picks in more than 100 categories of food, drink, services and places to go, but a chance for you to tell us more about the best things in your corner of the Trianglethe people, events, secret spots or anything else you’re passionate about. Our staff will go through those and write up Your Best of the Triangle. Click here to vote in this year’s Best of the Triangle; poetic entries are gladly accepted.