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‘The Power, Use and Freedom of Words’ to be celebrated Saturday

By Staff | Sep 28, 2018

SHEPHERDSTOWN — The Third Annual Eastern Panhandle 100,000 Poets for Change celebration will highlight “The Power, Use and Freedom of Words” through a variety of events in the block of the Charles Town Community Mosaic this Saturday, from noon to 5 p.m.

Featuring live music, food vendors, poetry readings, interactive literary displays and a children’s corner, the celebration will be “a wonderful afternoon of interaction,” according to Event Director Suzanne Malesic, who is directing the event for the second year in a row.

“People in this area found out about the international 100,000 Poets for Change day on the last Saturday of September, and wanted a similar celebration in the Eastern Panhandle. We had the first one three years ago, when a fellow by the name of Earl Hairston, a performance artist, organized the first one,” Malesic said. “Last year, I put it together, and this year I’m doing it again.”

While some 100,000 Poets for Change celebrations are small poetry readings, Malesic has tried to think outside of the box in preparation for each year’s event. Although the event has previously been held at The Timber Frame Folly in Shepherdstown, Malesic said it was time to move the festival to a more public location, where the event would have room to grow.

“This year, although our previous location was a lovely setting and much admired and appreciated, it was time to stage it in a larger public setting, and the completion of the Charles Town Community Mosaic just was a natural pairing of the event to that location, based on the 100,000 Poets for Change mission of ‘Peace, Justice and Sustainability.’ Those words and others are in the mosaic, and it was the perfect setting for the event,” Malesic said, mentioning she hopes community members from around the Eastern Panhandle will attend the event, regardless of their literary experience.

“People who don’t read books shouldn’t stay away — they should come to see and hear and check it out. I hope people will pause for a moment and realize that words not only guide and inform them, but can also challenge their imagination and lift their souls,” Malesic said about the event. “If they come and see these simple, non-commercially produced exhibits on one block in the center of the county, maybe they’ll renew their interest in literature.”

Local poets, book authors and musicians will take turns on the festival stage, while visitors relax in chairs under a canopy on the street or explore the festival. Attendees can also check out authors’ tables; the Jefferson County Black History Preservation Society’s Martin Delany display; food vendors — A Step In Time and Calico Jacks Cafe; and the children’s area, which will have a reading corner for fun children’s poetry and Caldecott Medal winners’ children’s books to be read, an art of block printing station, a giant dictionary and a chalk children’s path, where children will be able to write words in chalk along the street.

“This is about the vibrant Eastern Panhandle — there’s poetry in Shepherdstown, in Charles Town, in Berkeley Springs, in Martinsburg — it’s not just a one-time thing going on,” Malesic said, mentioning attendees can also join local poetry groups at the event. “There’s a vibrant community out there of poets and authors.”