Building community through words
Festival includes poetry project
By Angie Landsverk
Poetry will be the newest addition to Arts on the Square’s lineup.
At this year’s ninth annual arts festival, visitors will have the opportunity to write a Haiku poem for a Community Poetry Project.
“There will be a Haiku Workshop. People will be able to add it to a giant Haiku board,” said Marci Reynolds, president of the Waupaca Community Arts Board.
The arts board organizes the arts festival, set to kick off Friday, Aug. 14, with a street dance featuring Davina and the Vagabonds and continue Saturday, Aug. 15, with art, music, workshops and food.
Funding for the event is from Community First Credit Union, city of Waupaca hotel/motel room tax dollars, an anonymous donor, arts board sponsored events and individual donors.
Office Outfitters is sponsoring the Poetry Tent and Community Poetry Project.
The tent will be located behind the Waupaca Area Public Library, and people will be able to stop there and write Haiku poems throughout the day.
Haiku poems are comprised of a total of 17 syllables, with five syllables on the first line, seven on the second and five on the third line.
The completed poems are set to become part of a larger piece, which will be mounted on the outside of the Office Outfitters building.
The poetry project is the result of a chance meeting that took place in New York City between Reynolds and poet Lynn Gentry.
Reynolds, who works in diabetes education at ThedaCare Medical Center-Waupaca, was in New York for a conference about diabetes.
She and co-worker Beckie Crisman happened to see Gentry, who uses a small table for his desk and writes poems for people on a typewriter after talking to them. People pick a subject and price and in just a few minutes, get a poem.
Reynolds asked him to write a poem for her husband.
“Beckie looked at me and said, ‘You should ask him to come to your festival,’” Reynolds said.
When Reynolds told Gentry about Arts on the Square, he asked her its date and said, “That’s funny, because in the middle of August, I go from New York to California.”
Gentry asked Reynolds if Waupaca is close to Chicago.
After she explained where Waupaca is, he told her to email him and put “festival” in the subject line, so he would recall their conversation.
Back home in Waupaca, Reynolds emailed Gentry and also told Bill Zimmermann about meeting the poet.
Zimmermann and his wife Mary own Office Outfitters, and Zimmermann mentioned to Reynolds that members of Waupaca High School’s Dead Poets Society had just attended a meeting of the Waupaca Breakfast Rotary Club.
Zimmermann told Reynolds they should get the students involved in the festival.
Reynolds also told the arts board about Gentry, with the discussion soon turning to Haiku poetry and making it part of this year’s event.
After several email messages back and forth, Gentry said, “I’m coming.”
Aug. 15 schedule
The Poetry Tent will open at 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 15, with the introduction of Gentry, who will then spend most of the day roaming the grounds, meeting people and writing poetry.
The tent will also feature:
• Poetry reading by Bruce Dethlefson, former poet laureate of Wisconsin, at 11 a.m.
• A poetry slam/open mic poetry reading at noon, including the poetry of students from the WHS Dead Poets Society.
• The reading of poetry by Shel Silverstein and other poets for children at 1 p.m.
• Poetry by Midwife and Poet Jane “Tree” Peterson at 2 p.m.
• Poetry reading at 3 p.m. by T.M. Farley, a former University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh professor.
• Gentry returning at 3:30 p.m. to read some of the poetry he writes that day.
The Haiku workshop will take place in the tent throughout the day, with some of the participating poets helping people write poems.
There will be two other community art projects at this year’s Arts on the Square.
Marsha Mueller, a retired art teacher, will lead the Circle of Community, which is open to people of all ages and already under way.
Participants will receive a Community Circle Card.
Each card will have a line on it that makes a quarter of a circle.
Participants will use such items as markers, crayons, paints and glitter to color in one or both parts of the circle.
These cards are currently available at Embellishments, Little Fat Gretchen’s, the Bookcellar, The Paint Store and the Waupaca Area Chamber of Commerce for those who want to work on the project ahead of time.
Those who make one before Arts on the Square should bring their finished pieces to the festival and place them into the larger community piece, which will grow throughout the day.
Squares and art supplies will be available at the workshop tent for those who want to work on the project at the festival.
“They will be put together to create a bigger image, which may be installed somewhere in the community,” Reynolds said.
The other community art project will be the Community Song Circle.
Musician Chris Kokesh will facilitate this workshop from 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., at the Union Street Stage. Songbooks will be provided.
Reynolds said there will also be a variety of workshops for people of all ages.