SPRINGFIELD, Ohio — Wittenberg University Assistant Professor of English and Director of Writing Across the Curriculum Rick Incorvati was in search of a fun academic experience last year. So he created one with the Wittenberg Poetry Festival, which was so popular in 2004 that it has been scheduled again this year.
The department of English and Wittenberg Literary Society will present the second annual Poetry Festival at 4 p.m., Thursday, April 14, in Ness Family Auditorium, Hollenbeck Hall.
“There certainly is a community-building aspect to this event, but that happened strictly by accident,” Incorvati said. “It all started last year when I saw a poster on (Adjunct Instructor of English) Jody Rambo’s door announcing April as National Poetry Month, and I thought that this was a good excuse for the English Department to throw a party of sorts.”
The festival, held in conjunction with National Poetry Month, is open to everyone and will bring together 20 readers in the course of an hour and fifteen minutes. Incorvati said the plan is for five students to read their favorite poems and five more to read their own creative work. In addition, five people from around campus will join five English department faculty members scheduled to make individual presentations.
Among the scheduled presentations are translations of Bosnian poetry by Keith Doubt, professor of sociology and department chair; original poetry by Stefan Broidy, assistant professor of education; a reading from the classical Roman poet Ovid by Tim Wilkerson, associate professor of languages and director of the Honors Program; creative dialogues read by Kent Dixon, professor of English; and poems from Don Marquis’s 1916 cartoon book Archy and Mehitabel by Ruth Lewis, biology lab coordinator. Students on the schedule include Melissa Barrett of Kent, Ohio, class of 2005; Sean Golden of Columbus, Ohio, class of 2006; Bret Olson of Fort Thomas, Ky., class of 2005; Liz Powers of Cleveland, Ohio, class of 2006; and Kathleen Soler of Northfield, Ill., class of 2008.
Each reader will have about three minutes, although Incorvati said there is no time limit. Readers are encouraged to share some personal aspects of the readings, describing why the work is important and how it affected them. This is not the time for grades, homework or critiques – it’s all about the enjoyment of poetry as art.
“The hope is that we can take some of the academic out of the poetic,” Incorvati said. “This is a chance for people to read poetry that they enjoy and to talk about it in terms of the pleasure that it provides.
“That intention is one of the reasons why this event is so suited to be a joint effort between the English department and the Wittenberg Literary Society. The latter is a group of students who have gotten together to do activities like poetry readings, movie viewings and literary theme parties for no other reason than their desire to do it. They’ve taken literature out of the classroom and away from official obligations.”
Barrett is president of the Wittenberg Literary Society in 2005, and Incorvati said the group is always welcoming new members.
The 2005 event will have a lot to live up to after a tremendously successful inaugural event a year ago that drew a standing-room-only crowd to Ness Family Auditorium.
“The difficulty will be to talk about last year’s event without sounding overly effusive,” Incorvati said. “It was by all accounts a wonderful afternoon. We ended up having a nice variety of original and previously published poetry.”
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