Building community through poetry

By on April 30, 2014

Spoken Word Festival visits Linden Hall

 

Maybe literary art is not the first thing that pops into your head during quiet reveries about our dear county. But from the people at The Theater of the Seventh Sister to the 17 performers at the 12th annual Spoken Word Festival, the Lancaster poetry scene is growing.

Last weekend wordsmiths emerged from under their covers, back seats of buses, desks and coffee shops to drop the lyrics from their page to the stage in Steinman Arts Center at Linden Hall in Lititz.

Remember when families would retire to the drawing room to entertain with music and poetry? TV, video games and Smartphones may have rendered that creative tradition to history, but the Spoken Word Festival is dedicated to returning the artform to prominence.

Remember when families would retire to the drawing room to entertain with music and poetry? TV, video games and Smartphones may have rendered that creative tradition to history, but the Spoken Word Festival is dedicated to returning the artform to prominence.

The audience ranged from those who were unsure “what’s going to happen here, I’m scared” people to others who were psyched as if it were the beginning of the World Series.

“Beckoning, smiling, come, we are waiting for you,” was the last line in Cameron Krulewski’s poem titled, “Stars.”

Cameron is from Lancaster County and is a junior at Linden Hall. Her presence may have appeared more meek than others, but her approach was to subtly enhance the understanding and enjoyment of the poem without overshadowing the language with distractions. Her powerful internalization of the poem moved the audience.

“I have two poems that I’m presenting this year,” said Krulewski. “The first is about looking at the night sky, the universe. The second one is about identity and kind of finding yourself,” she continued. “I’m in the process of thinking about colleges, but sometimes I think you never figure out who you are.”

Chris Longenecker is nearing the end of her term as Poet Laureate of Lancaster County. Her book, “How Trees Must Feel,” was published in 2011.

“Everybody’s trying so hard to tell the truth in their own way,” she said. “We are trying so hard to find the truth and then to tell it. What is that? It’s different for everybody I guess.”

Today poetry may seem odd or different to many, but before TV it was expected for families and guests to gather in the drawing room after dinner and entertain with singing, music and poetry. It seems popular poetry has heavily shifted into song lyrics. Think Bob Dylan and Eminem.

“When Robert Frost was alive, he would gather thousands to hear him recite,” said Longenecker. “It’s rare to get the masses really interested in poetry, but does happen occasionally.”

One of the poets, a Vietnam veteran, had a more nontraditional and less mystical approach to his art and wrote about his war experience.

“You can imagine the stuff I get,” said Scott Hower in regard to reactions. “They say all kinds of stuff not fit to print.”

“Looking at the sky, sucked the breath from my lungs.”

Continuing midway through his poem titled “Stars on Wake Island”:

Each star so extra lucid, ultra clear without a twinkle

Close enough to touch so very unfathomably so far far away.

Perplexing order in mute

chaos and I knew

How notions of God

first came to be.

Saw better now the darkness slightly abated.

Eyes adjusted to the azure

blueness of the moment.

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