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Upland poetry festival set

By Clay Winowiecki - cwinowiecki@chronicle-tribune.com

The two-day Barton Rees Pogue Poetry and Arts Festival is coming to Upland this Friday and Saturday.

This marks the ninth anniversary for the festival which features local authors such as Dan Fuller, Rachael Phillips, Mark Fauser and Kathy Gerstorff.

This year’s theme is “Fun and Fantasy” and includes four art competition categories: elementary, junior high, high school and college/adult. The festival is free to the public and will be held at Pierce Upland United Methodist Church at 201 N. Eighth St., Upland.

“When we organized nine years ago we felt it was very important for there to be a medium much like the Marion Philharmonic Orchestra (because) people are afraid of classical music and poetry,” said Festival Director LaRea Slater. “We want to get (people) over that fear and celebrate the beauty of both orchestral classical music and poetry.”

According to Slater, the festival was started by local Upland resident Wes Rediger, who wanted to put Upland on the map. Rediger named the festival after Barton Rees Pogue, a poetry professor at Taylor University and author.

“He was thinking (of having) music, art, poetry and dancing,” Slater said. “Only one year did we have dance, but the other years we’ve had (some) music. Now we’re down to just poetry and art.”

The event kicks off Friday with an authors’ night from 6 - 8 p.m.

“(Authors will) do a mini-bio and then they’ll go to their tables and people can purchase books and get them signed,” Slater said.

One local author who will be in attendance is Mark Fauser, who recently published his book “Because of Burt…”

“I love Upland, so I am honored they asked me to come in,” Fauser said. “I love that they support writers.”

Fauser said the festival is a great way to uncover some of the hidden gems in Grant County.

At this year’s festival there will also be art from local adult and college student artists, as well as youth art from Eastbrook South Elementary students.

Attendees will be given a ballot to vote for their favorites, Slater said.

On Saturday, the first event begins at 8:30 a.m. with donuts and refreshments. Adults will read poems for their work to be judged. Contestants are allowed to bring three of their poems to read.

At 10 a.m. the youth entries will be read.

While the adults are reading their poems festival leaders will invite kids into the church’s cafe, help them write a poem and teach them how to recite.

Kids are encouraged to dress up in their favorite movie character. Greeting kids will be Snoopy, Snow White and Peter Rabbit.

According to Slater, this also helps children develop their use of language, creativity and public speaking skills.

“(With poetry) you can say, in very few words, an impactful meaning, whereas someone else might try to write it in an entire book or novel,” she said. “We do want to teach young people how to write these poems because it is an art form. We want to encourage that.”

Slater asks families to call ahead 765-611-6990 so festival leaders know how many children to expect.

At 11 a.m. awards will be presented to those who have participated in the competition.

The Barton Rees Pogue Poetry and Arts Festival will give a $100 cash prize to the winner of the college and adult division and award prizes to the other three divisions.