Poetry series raises its voice
Trane DeVore and Professor Warren Liu kicked off this year’s Main Street Reading Series on Sept. 18 with a reading that some called quirky.
“It’s good to have a place to go again on Sunday nights to hear good poetry and prose,” said Lynn Powell.
Those who have attended the Main Street readings are enthusiastic about the opportunity to interact with College and community members in a literary setting.
“The reading itself was a nice experience,” Liu said. “Making connections between what goes on in the classroom and other forms of personal expression...seems to me an important aspect of College and community life, and one that is nicely addressed by the reading series.”
The Main Street series was first organized in the fall of 1992 by four local poets including Powell, now a visiting professor in the creative writing department, and Research Librarian Jessica Grim. It was a forum where local writers came together to read in “interesting combinations” and where “variety was the hallmark,” according to Grim and Powell.
“We were all new to town, and we were eager to help cultivate a sense of community among the many College and community writers who lived here,” said Powell.
Grim said that they had envisioned the series as something of an alternative to the “official” (i.e. College) readings happening at the time, especially wanting to give community writers a place to share their work.
With only four founders volunteering their time to organize and run the series, there were, as expected, loose ends.
“We were running the series as volunteers, and we literally passed around a big cowboy hat at the end of each reading to take up donations. We were never quite able to reimburse ourselves for the costs of copying and mailing fliers (this was pre-e-mail days), baking homemade cookies for refreshments and buying red wine. But we got close enough,” Powell said.
But in the fall of 1995, she said, the loose ends became unmanageable for even enthusiastic volunteers.
“The series was still going strong and we had cultivated a steady audience. But each of the organizers had other family and professional commitments, and we no longer had the time to organize the readings.”
After seven poetically bereft years, Margaret Young, educational director of Firelands Association for the Visual Arts and daughter of creative writing professor David Young, resurrected the Main Street Reading Series in 2002 under the auspices of College and community.
David Young and the creative writing department took the project under its wing, giving practicum credit for its organization to two interns, current senior Alex Littlefield and College junior Sarah Heady.
This year, the Series has also applied for and received a grant from the Ohio Arts Council, enabling them to pay each reader a $100 honorarium. Heady wanted the public to know that one of the terms of the agreement with the Arts Council was that the Series match their grant by fundraising. This is primarily being done through raffles at readings.
The next reading on the schedule will feature Christopher Bakken and Kerry
Neville Bakken, faculty members at Allegheny College in northwestern
Pennsylvania. She is a fiction writer and a teacher who focuses primarily on
environmental writing. He is a poet who also works in translation of poems from
Greek. Samples of Bakken’s original work can be found on the internet: