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Barton Rees Pogue Festival this weekend

BY Paige Conley - pconley@chronicle-tribune.com

This weekend marks the 8th annual Barton Rees Pogue Poetry and Arts Festival.

The festival, which begins this evening, is organized by Taylor University and will take place at The Pierce Building located at the corner of Eighth and Washington streets in Upland. The festival is set to feature poetry and art from local community members including several classes from Eastbrook South Elementary School.

According to Festival Director LaRea Slater, the festivities will kick off tonight with a reading and book signing from Indiana author Philip Gulley. Along with being an author, Gulley is a quaker pastor who captures the small-town American life in his books. According to Slater, he has several humorous novels written about a fictitious town called Harmony.

“They are hilarious depictions of what could happen in the church, but they are always respectful,” she said.

The book signing and reading is will take place in the Cafe starting at 6 p.m. There will also be refreshments to follow.

The events will continue Saturday beginning at 9 a.m. with John Sherman sharing his poem about meeting Barton Rees Pogue. Following Sherman’s reading are poetry competitions for adults and children.

According to Slater, this year’s poetry theme is “The Future is Yours.” Participants earn extra points if their poems include something about their future or future events. Slater said this may be “Star Wars,” future inventions, sci-fi or their future careers.

As well, Slater revealed they’re holding a poetry jam this year for the competition – an idea they pulled from poetry slams.

“The poetry slam idea is that you are very dramatic,” she said.

The adult competition features 12 participants with four poems each. The judges will eliminate three people during each round until one poet is left standing. The winner receives $100.

After the adult portion of the competition is over, the elementary students read their poems. Awards are then presented to the winners by Wes Rediger, the “Founder of the Festival.”

In addition to poetry, there will be artwork displayed along the hallway in the building including work from Eastbrook High School students. Visitors can admire and vote on the pieces they enjoy the most. The winners are presented with awards from the town.

Some of these awards include gift certificates to Ivanhoe’s Restaurant, Payne’s Restaurant, Casa Grande Mexican Grill and Bar and more.

Rediger hopes the festival will encourage children to get into the literary arts.

“As I understand, several classrooms of children have been writing poetry. I think anything we can do to get a child to like reading and writing and rhyming helps with that,” he said.

Likewise, Slater said visitors are going to hear emotional poetry and witness amazing artwork.

“They can expect to be inspired by the work of youth or adults in this cultural, creative activity,” she said. “Or they can be inspired by the artwork.”