This year was a great triumph. We had crowds, we had poets from all over the state, we had dedication.
None of this would have happened if not for the efforts of the Word is Art Stage Committee. Louise Robertson, Scott Woods, David Winter and Gina Blaurock were the backbone of the weekend.
The stage though, the beautiful stage was finally put in place thanks to the efforts of Festival Director Scott Huntley. It took a couple of years, and I let out a bit of a whoop when I saw it. Because I had no idea.
The sound was great, there were lights and the poets shone under them!
There was some excellent work read all weekend. Amy Turn Sharp has a satchel full of poems and more in her pockets. Eoin O'Brien brought Cowboy Poetry to the stage for the first time in memory and absolutely rocked it! Searius Add (pictured above) won the slam on Saturday night, a hotly contested affair that brought the best out of the six poets who competed.
There is so much I can say. We brought so much good will for poetry to Columbus over the last three days. We had a poet named Douglas Gray read. He won the contest in 1992 when the poets read during band breaks. Now look where the stage is! Douglas told a story of how he challenged the then Mayor, Buck Rinehart to a fight, there was no fight. On Friday, Erik Slangerup noticed Mayor Coleman and his entourage walking by and loudly said, "I'd like to dedicate this next poem to the political leaders of this city." Mayor Coleman laughed, pointed at Erik and said, "You better be good!"
And he was, both nights he read.
Sunday was an early mess. The rain was coming down sideways and we had to pull a poet off the stage to be safe. After a delay we came back and every one who read on that stage wanted to be there, despite the lower crowds (but short lines at the concession stands!) and unsettled weather. The kids from Flip the Page were awesome. The highlight of the weekend for me was Steve Abbott and Connie Everett of the Poetry Forum telling stories and reading poems from influential Columbus poets. Without the pioneering work of the Poetry Forum and its readers past and present, there would be no Word is Art Stage.
The Word is Art Stage is growing in poise and popularity. For the first time, the poet who won the Poetry Audition Jury Contest, John Croake, read Friday night before a headlining act on the Bicentennial Stage.
An opportunity to build on. The stage manager was very happy with how it went and was excited about the potential of more poets there.
Took a bunch of pictures, which you can see here and here.
Finally, though. This.
A girl who watched poetry in the rain, I could not have helped make this happen without my wife Emma's constant support.