• 70°

Building my reputation as a world class poet

Roses are red. Violets are blue. Poems are hard. What’s a girl to do?

Attend the Lanier Library Poetry Festival, of course!

I’m not a poet. I know that’s comes as a shock to you after reading that fantastic opening, but I’m afraid it’s true. What I am, though, is a great proponent of the when-in-Rome school of thought.

When I landed in Tryon a few years ago and began to discover just how many poets we have here, I opened my eyes and heart to the possibilities of becoming a fan of poetry. I have a degree in English Lit, but avoided poetry classes when I was a young student. I found poetry as intimidating and off-putting as quantum physics or men in top hats.

But when I came here and watched my new Tryon friends share their work at the Literary Open Stage or other readings around town, I enjoyed their poetry. It was as if the emperor had removed his new clothes and donned a handsome, comfortable, and affordable outfit that I could actually see and understand. And when I talked to my new poet friends, they told me I could join their ranks.

I started off with a workshop for beginners at last year’s Lanier Library Poetry Festival, which was taught by Cathy Smith Bowers. Cathy is much more than just a poet. She was the 2012-2013 North Carolina Poet Laureate, and now she lives here. Once a year she takes a break from her talented M.F.A. students at Queens University in Charlotte and teaches people like me poetry at Lanier Library.

I was so impressed with last year’s poetry festival that I found myself on the committee helping to plan this year’s festival which takes place April 24 and 25 (during National Poetry Month, naturally). As is often the case here in Tryon, volunteers have put their heart and soul into planning an amazing event. Many of them aren’t even writers, much less poets, but they are dedicated to making Tryon’s second annual poetry festival the best it can be.

Cathy Smith Bowers will be back to work her magic, and we have an impressive roster of additional instructors who are rock stars in the world of poetry. Kathy Ackerman, Harry Goodheart, Rick Mulkey, Tina Barr, and Morri Creech will all be teaching workshops. (You can get a sneak peek at Kathy Ackerman’s work at Lanier Library’s Brown Bag Lunch at noon on April 21, by the way.)

Wendi Loomis will teach two kids’ workshops (which are free!) as well as entertain us all at TFAC’s amphitheater Friday night, April 24, kicking off the festival in high style.

After a day of readings and workshops on Saturday, April 25, Keith Flynn, Asheville super-poet and founder and editor of the Asheville Poetry Review, will present the winners of the Sidney Lanier Poetry Prize and give us a taste of his award-winning work.

The cherry on top of our poetry-filled day will be lunch with Richard Blanco. He read his poetry at the last presidential inauguration, and is making a stop here in the middle of his worldly travels to share his story and poetry with us. He’s a big deal.

So if you’re a when-in-Rome person like I am, I hope you’ll join us for a refreshing dip into the poetry waters. As a Tryon writer, I couldn’t be more proud of what we’ve accomplished in planning our second annual festival and seventh annual poetry competition.

How do I love thee, Tryon? Let me count the ways. And also count the days until the rocking cool poetry festival at Lanier Library.

As you can see, I’m making significant progress with my poetry writing. Patience, my friends. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Let’s start building it together, shall we? I’ll see you at the festival.