Reed Library's Big Read POEtry Contest recognized poets at two separate open mic events. The first was held Friday, Oct. 14, from 5:30 p.m. at the Literacy Volunteers Cafe and Bookstore in Dunkirk and the second was held Oct. 15 at 10 a.m. the Fredonia Farmers' Market.
First, the Literacy Volunteers 21 East Cafe and Bookstore hosted the Teen and Adult Poets' open mic event. 21 East Cafe was packed with poets bravely waiting for their turn at the microphone, coffee sipping listeners hanging on every syllable, and awardees beaming with pride as they received awards in front of their relatives and friends who applauded and snapped photos.
"I was very pleased with the turn-out," said Amanda Walden, executive director of the Literacy Volunteers of Chautauqua County. "In general, contests that generate enough interest from young people and members of the community to show off their work are fantastic. It takes a certain kind of interest and a strong support network to put on events like the open mic night and hopefully that's what we can provide."
Joseph Vandette gets into the Halloween spirit while reading his poem to the crowd at an open mic event.
The Literacy Volunteers of Chautauqua County is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting literacy in the region. 21 East Bookstore and Cafe offers coffee, espresso drinks, tea, pastries, and light lunch fare catered by the Mustard Seed restaurant. Both the cafe and bookstore are staffed by volunteers and students of the Literacy Volunteers' program.
When asked if 21 East would be interested in hosting another open mic event in the future, Walden responded favorably.
"Absolutely, I'd like to have a regular poetry reading night at the cafe," Walden said.
Currently, works by Edgar Allen Poe that have been donated are available for purchase at the 21 East book store. For more information about the Literacy Volunteers of Chautauqua County and the 21 East Cafe, visit lvoccread.org or call 366-4438 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On the morning of Saturday, Oct. 15, several costumed children shared their original poetry at the Fredonia Farmers' Market during the Big Read POEtry Contest Young Poets' Open Mic event. This event was held in conjunction with the Fredonia Farmers' Market, which moved inside due to the cold, rainy weather. Kids were invited to the market to trick or treat, read their spooky poems, and listen to scary stories.
"It was awesome to see all the kids dressed up in their cute costumes and to be able to hear their poetry!" said Malinda McGuinn, the Winter Market manager as well as a vendor at the market who own Lamberton Hollow Farms.
McGuinn sells freshly baked, all natural bread and humanely raised, natural eggs.
"I'm glad the Fredonia Farmers' Market was able to provide kids with a venue to share their poetry," McGuinn said. "Events like this one are important because they get people out more and make them aware of what's happening in their community."
McGuinn also indicated that she would be in favor of having additional poetry reading events at the upcoming Winter Market. The Fredonia Farmers' Market is year-round and will be relocating to an indoor location starting in November.
Immediately following the open mic for young poets at the Fredonia Farmers' Market, Sigma Tau Delta English Honor Society members read spooky stories for kids and handed out books to eager listeners. Submissions were judged by SUNY Fredonia students from Sigma Tau Delta English Honor Society and from a creative writing group called the Writers' Ring. These students volunteered their time and talents to accomplish the difficult task of selecting a handful of winners from a nearly 200 poems.
"Sigma Tau Delta wanted to judge the poetry contest because we thought it would be a lot of fun," said Tomi Stratton, president of Writer's Ring and co-president of Sigma Tau Delta. "Many of us are education majors, yet we do not have many opportunities to see student work."
"The experience was one of the most enjoyable ones I have ever experienced," Stratton said. "Reading the poetry was fun, but talking about it with a group of my peers was amazing. We were able to sit back, relax and marvel at the great work of young authors."
In addition to serving as a judge for the contest, Stratton was also among the students who read spooky stories after the open mic at the Fredonia Farmers' Market. Sigma Tau Delta also gave away spooky books to all of the children at the event.
All contest winners received graphic design posters to commemorate their poems made by the SUNY Fredonia Publications office. Others received gift cards and Poe books from The Book Nook in Dunkirk. A few audience favorite book prizes were awarded to readers who received the most votes at the open mic events as well.
The Big Read POEtry Contest organizers extend special thanks to the following open mic readers: George Batrouny, George Clever, Laura Evans, Casey Takacs, Niki Jankowiak, Lee Filbert, Emily Masiker, Thomas Warmbrodt, Natalie Gerber, Ian Wittenbrook, Hannah Wallace, Tay Reynolds, Silvie Eckenrode, Sebastian Puglisi and Joseph Vandette.
The POEtry Contest was one of Reed Library's kick-off events for the Big Read of Edgar Allan Poe. The Big Read is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) designed to restore reading to the center of American culture. The NEA presents The Big Read in cooperation with Arts Midwest. Reed Library is one of 76 communities nationwide participating in The Big Read from September 2011-June 2012. During the month of October, Reed Library has joined in the celebration of Edgar Allan Poe with a variety of events on and off campus. These events are free and open to the public. For more information on The Big Read, visit www.fredonia.edu/bigread or visit a local library.