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Third Annual Risk A Verse Continues Local Celebration Of National Poetry Month

Published: April 13, 2018

Newtown Cultural Arts Commission (NCAC) hosted its third annual “Risk A Verse,” a National Poetry Month event, at Newtown Meeting House on April 8.

Residents and people who work in town took turns reading poetry they chose for the event.

Coordinators Tracy Van Buskirk, an artist and member of NCAC, and Newtown Poet Laureate Lisa Schwartz welcomed everyone in attendance.

Ms Schwartz was the first to read a poem at the Sunday afternoon event. She read “Consolation,” by Wislawa Szymborska. After her reading, Ms Van Buskirk said even if only one of the poems read at the event “sparks something in you… I think we would have succeeded.”

A Risk A Verse publication of each of the poems read was sold during the event for $5 to raise money for the NCAC scholarship. The booklet’s introduction reads in part: “April is National Poetry Month, the largest literary celebration in the world, with tens of millions of readers, students, [kindergarten through twelfth] grade teachers, librarians, booksellers, literary events, curators, publishers, bloggers, and, of course, poets marking poetry’s important place in our culture and our lives every April.”

One of the goals of National Poetry Month, according to the booklet, is to encourage the reading of poems. The third annual Risk A Verse event certainly did just that. One by one readers took turns reading poems by poets such as Miller Williams and Norman Rowland Gale.

Roughly 100 people attended the event and filled in half of the available seating space. Including Ms Schwartz and Ms Van Buskirk, 19 people read works of poetry for the event.

Resident John Vouros read Patricia Walter’s “A Friend” with his godson Alessio Valeri, and musician Grant Ossendryver played his electric guitar for his rendition of Neil Diamond’s “Song Sung Blue.”

A reception was held after the event, and, according to Ms Schwartz, Big Y donated a gift card to support it. Cheese and wine was served, according to Ms Van Buskirk.

Reflecting on the event the following morning, Ms Van Buskirk said she felt “everything went really smoothly.” Ms Van Buskirk said she heard favorable responses from audience members. She also overhead “good discussions” about poetry and she felt a sense of community building.

Ms Van Buskirk said she also heard some ideas for next year’s Risk A Verse. The town’s cultural arts commission, she said, is always looking for ways to expand and other suggestions. Anyone with ideas or suggestions can e-mail them to newtownpoetry@gmail.com.

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