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Poets celebrate at Lanier Library this month

TRYON — “Dark cloud is at the door,” said Barbara Oklesen, as she read N. Scott Momaday’s poem, “House Made of Dawn.”

Oklesen was one of several who gathered at the Lanier Library Thursday night for a special Literary Open Stage event to kick off local National Poetry Month celebrations. Poetry lovers read their favorite poems and discussed the upcoming April poetry events hosted by the library.

Lanier Librarian Clare O’Sheel said this year library’s poetry competition went international. They received submissions from Britton, Ireland, the Netherlands and other countries, as well as from all over the U.S.

Poetry lovers gathered at the Lanier Library Thursday night to kick off National Poetry Month by reading some of their favorite poems. (Photo by Catherine Hunter/Tryon Daily Bulletin)

“Our submissions almost doubled,” O’Sheel said. “We even had student submission from as far away as New York.”

On Saturday, April 28, award winning poet and writing professor George Bilgere will announce the winners for the 10th Annual Sidney Lanier Poetry Competition via Skype. Bilgere is the final judge for the competition.

“We wanted to have a nationally known judge this year, since we are now a national competition,” O’Sheel said, who explained that in prior years the competition had been opened to regional poets.

The April 28 reception is open to the public, and the winners will read their poems.

The library is also sponsoring “Pure Poetry II” on April 17 at the Tryon Fine Arts Center. Former winners of the Sidney Lanier Poetry Competition will read their works. The event is part of TFAC’s new Stage Door Series.

O’Sheel said the event was packed last year, and those interested in attending should reserve their seats as soon as possible.

Founded in 1889, the Lanier Library Association is one of only 16 solely membership libraries left in the country. The library receives no public funding, and is supported by membership and donations.

The library hosts the Literary Open Stage event quarterly. O’Sheel said it gives local writers the opportunity to share their work.

“It’s good practice for writers to read their work to an audience, and it’s a chance for them to connect with each other,” she said.

For more information regarding the Lanier Library and the Sidney Lanier Poetry Competition Awards Ceremony and Reception visit www.thelanierlibrary.org/upcoming-events/ or call the library at 828-859-9535.