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Fourth Annual Poetry Festival celebrates art of words at Shepherd

By Staff | Mar 13, 2020

Local poet Sue Silver reads poetry from her book, "Inside, Outside," during the Poetry Festival in the Shepherd University Student Center's Cumberland Room on Saturday night. Tabitha Johnston

SHEPHERDSTOWN — About 40 poets and poetry lovers alike gathered in Shepherd University Student Center’s Cumberland Room on Saturday evening, to join in the Fourth Annual Poetry Festival.

Organized by Sigma Tau Delta and its faculty advisor, English professor Heidi Hanrahan, the festival began with a poetry reading of personal poems and favorite poems, written by other authors. While many participants viewed this as an opportunity to practice sharing their poetry in public and gage the public’s response to their work, others simply enjoyed sharing poems that they held dear to their hearts.

David Weaver combined both options into his performance, after placing a poster with the names of the two poems he would be reading for the festival audience.

“This is a photograph of Robert Frost’s wall in New Hampshire, which he used as the inspiration for his poem, ‘Mending Wall.’ I’m going to read that poem, as well as my own take on the poem, ‘Mending Wall, Too,'” Weaver said. “‘Mending Wall, Too,’ is my work, from the perspective of his neighbor.”

Shepherd University student T.K. Lindsay performed a dramatic rendition of Lindsay’s poem, “The Intruder,” which used a dragon as its main symbolism.

Shepherd University student Catherine Ellzey reads her poem, "Rise," during the Fourth Annual Poetry Festival in Shepherd University Student Center's Cumberland Room on Saturday night. Tabitha Johnston

“This poem may get kind of long and kind of loud, but when I’m done, I’ll return to my seat,” Lindsay said, with a smile.

A few books donated to the festival were raffled off, after the poetry reading finished. The raffle was then followed by a beloved festival tradition, the bad poetry reading.

“This kind of reading is unique, because you have to ‘boo’ after the poem is read. You’re not allowed to clap,” said Sigma Tau Delta President Linnea Meyer. “Bad poetry can be very interesting.”

According to Chair of the Department of English and Modern Languages Betty Ellzey, the Poetry Festival is something Shepherd University students and faculty look forward to every year.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for students and community members to meet and hear each other. The students don’t often get a chance to do that,” Ellzey said. “It’s a great mix of student, alumni and community members here today.”