A celebration of the arts and poetry
By Chrysa Keenon | The Echo
Tradition is alive and growing in the Upland community. The Barton Rees Pogue Poetry and Arts Festival will occur today and tomorrow, running for it’s seventh year. The theme is “All Aboard, Upland, Celebrating 150 Years.” Participants are encouraged to write or create art about a historical event that happened in Upland or any historical event from the last 150 years. Sessions will focus on writing and performing works of literature. Anyone living in the Grant County area or surrounding counties are welcome to participate in the event.
LaRea Slater, director of the festival, explained the idea of the festival is to make Upland a place where people want to stop and explore.
“All small towns are trying to reinvent themselves,” Slater said. “We really want Upland to become a destination.”
The festival will happen tonight from 6–9 p.m. at the Gray Barn (168 S 2n St). This will be a casual workshop where writers can craft “on-the-spot” poems after looking at provided pieces of local art. Chosen poems are to be featured in the SEGway News later on in the week, according to Slater.
On Saturday, the festivities will continue at Upland Community Church with competitions geared toward the adult age group, including original poetry writing and dramatic/humorous interpretive reading competitions from 10–11:30 a.m. Lunch will be served for $5 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. The youth original poetry writing and dramatic/humorous interpretative reading competitions will be from 1–2 p.m.
The closing ceremony will be held from 2–3 p.m. at the Upland Community Church. Wes Rediger, the founder of the festival, will host the ceremony. Slater hinted that Rediger will perform an epic poem he wrote while on a trip to Russia with the Taylor Chorale.
While the festival celebrates local literary and visual arts, it does not draw much attention to the Upland library, according to Barbara Dixon, library director, even though both the library and the festival are named after Barton Rees Pogue.
Only a few members of the Upland community participate in the festival. An average of 10 to 12 adults enter the poetry and reading competitions, according to Slater, though she would like the festival to involve larger groups.
“I really think (the festival) hasn’t been going on long enough for a lot of people to know about it yet, and I’m hoping that will change (by) word of mouth,” Dixon said.
Slater also has high hopes for future festivals, including some that entice Taylor students to get involved. The festival currently lacks participation of middle and high school students from the surrounding community, and Slater would like to see Taylor students bridging the gap by encouraging participation through theatrical elements.
Ideally, Slater wishes for Taylor Theatre students to coach younger kids how to read interpretatively or in a funny way. Slater believes poetry can resonate throughout all age groups. Poetry writer and junior Hannah-Kate Fox agrees.
“For the listener, the poem is manifesting in the form of the performer,” Fox said. “It no longer seems like a flat, inanimate thing on paper, but a real, living, moving, changing, breathing, struggling thing, which poetry is. Much of poetry is written to be heard, and so it is more easily and fully understood when performed.”