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World’s longest poem

Arts board sponsors community project

By Angie Landsverk
“Everyone is a Poet” is the title of the Waupaca Community Arts Board’s summer project.

The goal of the community poetry project is to create the world’s longest poem.

“We have no idea if anyone else has ever done this,” said Mary Phair, a member of the arts board.

For the past several years, poetry has been a part of the board’s annual Arts on the Square festival.

Board member Anita Olsen organizes the festival’s poetry tent and asked Phair if she would help with it this year.

“We had heard somewhere about the longest poem. It clicked with us,” Phair said. “We thought it would be so much fun to do.”

Contributing to a poem is something people of all ages may do, and the deadline to do so is July 17.

Visit waupacaarts.org/worlds-longest-poem to download and print the poetry form.

People may also pick up entry forms or drop off their stanzas at Antiques on Main, Panache, Studio 212, Embellishments, 44 North, Up North Barbers, New 2 You, Book Cellar, Little Fat Gretchen’s, Lucky Tree, Main Street Market Place, Z’ Wolf Eatery, The Nutrition Center, The Revival, Sweets Glass Studio, Summer’s End, Union Street Emporium, Dragon Wings Book Store, Waupaca Area Chamber of Commerce, Waupaca Community Arts Center and Waupaca Area Public Library.

“We’re just inviting people to add four or eight lines to it,” Phair said. “We will arrange all of them so it makes sense and flows.”

That will be done by Phair and her husband, Pat, as well as by Rick Simmons and Colleen Andrews.

Inappropriate or naughty words will be edited out, Phair said.

“We will work on all of the entries, putting it together into a poem that’s delightful and flows,” she said.

The poem will be printed on vinyl and be read aloud during this year’s Arts on the Square, which is Saturday, Aug. 19, on the city square.

They will use a “crankie” to read the poem.

“Originally, we thought about posting it online or on the side of a building,” Phair said.

Then Olsen came across an old storytelling form that involves two spools.

It is called a crankie.

“You attach it (the paper) to one spool, and the crank rolls it to the next spool,” Phair said.

Olsen’s husband, Bob, and their neighbor, Pat Mahoney, are building a crankie for the arts festival.

It will be used to read the poem, and the festival organizers hope to involve the audience in the reading of the poem.

Phair said some people ask what should be the subject of their stanzas.

“Write about Waupaca. Write about summer. Write about what it smells like today. Write about what sounds you hear when you sit on your front porch,” she said. “Poetry doesn’t have to rhyme. Poetry is so personal.”

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