Celebrate Gettysburg September/October 2011 : Page 26

Artisan &#0c;EFSZI&#0d;1]VRE1SVXSRVIZMI[WETSIQEXE+IXX]WFYVK4SIXV]7SGMIX]GVMXMUYIWIWWMSR &#0c;STTSWMXI&#0d;/EXI&VEH]MWXLIGYVVIRX4SIX0EYVIEXISJ,ERSZIV Poetry revival Poetry’s popularity in America has experienced peaks and troughs over the centuries. “Back in Walt Whitman’s day, poets were like prophets,” says Maggie Abbott Fowler, Gettysburg Poetry Society member and designer for Couturier Costumes in Gettysburg. The nation’s oldest poetry group, The Poetry Society of America, recently marked the centennial of its founding in 1910. Today, there are more than 1,000 members of the group nationwide, according to Elsbeth Pancrazi, membership and development coordinator for the Poetry Society of America. Perhaps it is the enduring legacy of the art form, the support from patrons of the arts or the prevalence of online social networks that has influenced the establishment and growth of local poetry groups within the last two decades. In September 2008, Linda Clark organized the Gettysburg Poetry Society. Today, the group’s membership totals 20. Critique sessions soon expanded into public presentations, such as the “Reading Between the Lines” poetry event for the Gettysburg Festival. Recently, the group sponsored a “Remembrance” poetry contest open to adults and youth in Adams County, according to Clark. Like Gettysburg, Hanover also supports a vibrant poetry group—the Hanover Poets, which formed in 1997. The 1996 opening of The Reader’s Café, a bookstore and coffee shop in downtown Hanover, offered the group a cozy meeting space where ideas and words could flow freely. In addition to Gettysburg and Hanover, poetry groups have put down roots in cities such as Carlisle, Harrisburg, Lancaster and York. Often, members of these groups will present their work at events outside their home territory, creating a cross-cultural network of poets. “What I love about poetry groups is that it’s the most eclectic group of people,” says Kate Brady, a Hanover native and current Poet Laureate of Hanover. “They’re an accepting group of people. We’re lucky in Hanover and Gettysburg to have such talented members in these groups.” The rise of a Poet Laureate Although she can count approximately 500 poems to her name, Brady wasn’t always penning couplets, sonnets and works of free verse. Athletics captured her time and attention in high school, but while attending James Madison University, Brady began experiencing repeated bouts of migraines and fatigue that negatively affected her performance on the field. She was ultimately diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome in 2004. But health concerns couldn’t stop Brady’s exuberance that embodied her approach to life. She channeled her physical energy into intellectual pursuits, turning to the arts to ease her pain. “I think poetry chose me,” she says. After graduating from James Madison, Brady enrolled at Columbia College in Chicago, Illinois, where she obtained a Master of Fine Arts in poetry. She’s spent the past several years teaching writing and conducting poetry workshops for adults and children in Chicago; Savannah, Georgia; Gettysburg and Hanover. In 2010, Brady was selected to a two-year term as Poet Laureate of Hanover. In this role, she seeks to educate and inspire others to discover poetry as an art form. Brady says creating a poem isn’t always a clear-cut process. “I never know where the poem is going to go,” she admits. “But I love that process…being led to all these interesting places. There’s a certain feeling about capturing a moment in words.” There are many misconceptions about poetry; Brady says there are two she encounters most frequently. “When I’m teaching in school, I run into this notion that people think that all poems have to rhyme,” she says. “The other one is that poetry is hard to understand. I think good poems are not meant to be abstract.” Brady’s work has been published in poetry journals such as the Columbia Poetry Review , the Fledgling Rag and Tonguas , the literary magazine produced by the University of Puerto Rico in San Juan. She is currently seeking a publisher for her first poetry book manuscript entitled Grit . A passion for poetry Inspired by nature and Native American history and culture, Imogene Hunt could be described as a poetic dream catcher. The 63-year-old Gettysburg poet has 26

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