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Fundraiser nets more than $3K for library

By Staff | Oct 13, 2017

Over the years, the “Left of the Bank” fundraiser has done its part in generating monies for the Shepherdstown Public Library. This year’s event was no exception.

In the fundraiser’s 13 year history, the LOTB has not only contributed to the library, but it has also helped cultivate a love of poetry within the community. This has led to myriad local poets stepping forward to share their passion – and the talent has steadily grown.

“(This year) was the consistently strongest showing of poets and poetry we have had in our 13 years of doing the show,” said Ed Zahniser, local poet and emcee of last Saturday’s event. “Dr. Betty Ellzey led off with a fascinating reading – with a bit of explication – of the very bawdy ‘Miller’s Tale’ from Geoffrey Chaucer’s ‘Canterbury Tales.’ She read the tale in the original Middle English of Chaucer, using some gestures to help explain strange words from the text that have not survived as recognizable English today.”

Ellzey serves as chair of the Department of English and Modern Languages at Shepherd University. Roughly 20 years ago, she launched The Rude Mechanicals Players – a troupe which has performed Medieval, Renaissance and Shakespearian dramas around the globe, Zahniser said.

Among the other poets performing original pieces were Stanley Niamatali, Christa Mastrangelo Joyce, Kristyn Lee, Ray Sibley and, of course, Ed Zahniser.

Since 2014, “Left of the Bank” has raised more than $15,000 for the library. This year’s tentative net figure, according to Friends of the Shepherdstown Library member Vicki Hodziewich, was $3,379, which she mentioned is not a finalized total from the group’s treasurer.

Hodziewich also took the time to praise those who helped put the fundraiser together, and reflected upon the event’s unique nature.

“Our flyer, invitations, tickets and program were all done by our extraordinarily talented Agnes Freund,” she said. “One of the benefits of working in an organization like FOSL is meeting such wonderfully talented, creative and giving people – like Agnes. The theme she developed to tie together (the event) was a quote from Rita Dove, ‘Poetry is language at its most distilled and most powerful.'”

While the fundraiser itself is helpful for the library, Hodziewich said, “it takes a village” to help facilitate this annual enterprise.

“We would like to thank a lot of people for the success of ‘LOTB:’ Carlos Niederhauser and Liz Wheeler for again offering their home for (a venue); the many FOSL volunteers who set up the site and those who cooked and baked many of our delectable appetizers and desserts; the generous donations of edibles from our local businesses; the public who bought tickets – approximately around 85; our six poets and the wonderful musicians, Laura First and Don Oehser; and the Shepherdstown Community Club for the loan of tables and chairs,” she said. “To them all boundless gratitude and loud applause are due.”

And it seems as though the library couldn’t be more grateful.

“Thank you so much for your awesome efforts to create yet another wonderful and memorable evening in support of the library,” wrote Shepherdstown Public Library Director Hali Taylor in an email to FOSL members. “The setting was gorgeous, the poets poignant and punny, the music magical and the food fabulous.”