Poetry not for fools
June 25, 2008 · Updated 11:39 AM
"Hear the poetsThe Island Arts Council presents the Whidbey Island Poetry Festival on April 1, noon to 6 p.m. at the newly renovated Bayview Hall, Langley. Admission, $5 for all day; all proceeds will fund future IAC literary events and scholarships. For more information call 360-221-7858 or visit the Web site at www.astroatlas.com/southwhidbeypoetryfestival.Some of the Island's most accomplished poets, together with word artists from Seattle and beyond, will perform in an exuberant celebration of the poetic form this Saturday at the Whidbey Island Poetry Festival.The fact that it is also April Fools Day brings an intriguing mind image to an event that will likely embrace the broad spectrum of poetry, from the humorous and the serious to the sublime. The Whidbey Island Poetry Festival premiered in 1998 as The Greenbank Farm Poetry Festival, with more than 40 performers and 300 in attendance. This year's festival will again feature original poetry, plus music and dance.Among the performers will be both the well-known and the newly discovered from both the Island and Puget Sound region:poets Victory Schouten, Joni Takanikos, Lorraine Healy, J. Glenn Evans; singers Beverly Graham and David Riordan; dancer Emily Day; and performers Ken Billingsley, Loren Churchill and Tom Churchill. No performance will last longer then 15 minutes. The sounds of a Gamelan (Javanese) orchestra will open the festival, and closing it will be The Trickster Hero Orchestra, a music/theater/storytelling ensemble that is iconoclastic, whimsical and always reliably entertaining.This year's emcees are Firesign Theatre's David Ossman, poet/performer Jane Winslow and island favorite Jim Freeman. A large outdoor labyrinth will draw the curious and the meditative. Books and CDs by performing artists will be available at the Artist's Merchandise Table. And a Poetic Bake Sale will provide such items as Ezra Pound Cake, and Elizabeth Barrett Brownies. There is plenty of parking and the nearby Smilin' Dog Coffee House serves espresso and lunch. Bayview Hall is located just off Hwy 525 on Bayview Road; look for the signs and banner.Performers and performancesJane Winslow emcees from noon to 1:59 p.m.Noon to 12:14 - The Whidbey Island Waldorf School Gamelan Group will lead off this year's Poetry Festival. Gamelan is the javanese word for orchestra, a collection of melodic and percussive instruments that create a distinctive sound. The young musicians are Kye Bartsch, Ariel Berendt, Annalise Fowler, Samuel Hendrix, Alex Hobbs, Zoe Hayes, Chase Gibbons,Trevor Morgan, Daniel Munger and Erik Swanson.12:15 - 12:24 - Eve Preus is a senior at Bayview High School. She has been writing poetry since the third grade, and says: Through my poetry I explore my experiences as a daughter, sister, student, writer and young woman.12:25 - 12:39 - Bonita Olson is a practicing attorney as well as a poet and artist. A graduate of the UW poetry programs, her work has been published widely in journals such as The Pegasus Review, PoetsWest, Midwest Poetry Review and Calyx.12:40 - 12:49 - Vern Olsen, a local favorite, will perform.12:50 - 1:03 - Tom Churchill, a well-known writer and personality on the Island, has published a novel, short fiction and poetry and has seen several of his plays produced here on Whidbey. He will be reading new poetry and performing a duologue between two characters from his play Blue Angelica.1:04 - 1:14 - Emily Day and Jay Davenny perform Talking Piano, a poetic dialog between dancer and musician.1:15 - 1:28 - Drew Kampion will read original prose. 1:29 - 1:43 - Jane Winslow, writer, photographer, video editor and producer, and in a past life a writer/songwriter and an opera singer, combines her performance poetry with a bit of drumming.1:44 - 1:59 - Victory Lee Schouten's poetry has been heard at the Choochokam Arts Festival, UW's Sunday Showcase and the Greenbank Farm Poetry Festival. She was a featured reader at the Seattle Frye Art Museum's PoetSpeak series and one of seven Island poets who collaborated on the art installation Doorgan. Her first book and CD, Wolf Love, due out in August, is a collaboration with her husband Rob Schouten and will feature his original art as well as her poetry. She will be performing all new poetry, accompanied by David Riordan on guitar.David Ossman emcees from 2-4:05 p.m.2:00 - 2:14 - David Riordan began his creative career as a songwriter and performer in groups like Pacific Grass and Electric and Sweet Pain. He also co-wrote the number one hit record Green Eyed Lady for Sugarloaf. He has recorded for Capitol, United Artists, 20th Century Fox and Dot Records. Paul McCartney's music publishing company MPL Publishing currently owns his catalog of over 100 original songs. He will be performing all new acoustical songs.2:15 - 2:29 - Claudia Mauro's first collection of poems, Stealing Fire, and her second book, Reading the River, were nominated for the Lambda Book Award. She was awarded a Hedgebrook fellowship in 1997, and she is the founder and managing editor of Whiteaker Press. 2:30 - 2:39 - Whidbey Island resident Sue Ellen White will be reading her original poetry of pain, loss and redemption.2:40 - 2:55 - John Richlin, a frequent reader at IAC community readings, will read works with a Native American theme, performing with well-known Lakota Sioux singer Ken Billingsley, who has performed at the White House and abroad, and has several CDs to his credit.2:56 - 3:04 - TBA3:05 - 3:10 - Joni Takanikos says her life, thankfully, frequently collides with poetry and poets. Among her many appearances at local venues, she was a resident at Hedgebrook in 1998. Life without poetry would be worse than morning oatmeal without cinnamon and honey, she says.3:11 - 3:19 - Loren Churchill is known for performing a blend of song, dance and character studies in his unique one-man shows. He will perform two contrasting songs.3:20 - 3:29 - Marian Blue's essays, poetry and fiction have appeared in such publications as Colorado State Review, Cold Mountain Review and Wildlife Conservation Magazine. She will be reading her poetry.3:30 - 3:35 - Duke LaBaron performs. 3:36 - 3:47 - Marjiann Moss has been expressing herself poetically since childhood and has won writing competitions and performed in Washington, Oregon and California. We are pleased to have her read her original poetry.3:48 - 3:55 - Judith Walcutt has written plays, poems, audio dramas and fiction, and has earned a Grammy nomination for Spoken Word in additions to many other awards. 3:56 - 4:05 - David Ossman is best known for his work with Firesign Theater, but he began publishing poetry in 1954 and has been in print ever since. He often uses texts from popular culture in his work and many of these found poems are collected on a CD, Pieces for Speakers, to accompany his Selected Poems 1960-2000. Conductor of Fun Jim Freeman is the emcee for the final hours of the Poetry Festival.4:06 - 4:21 - Derek Parrott has had a long and successful career as a singer, songwriter and performer. His multi-layered original songs are known for their high-energy, beauty and meaning. Most recently Derek released the CDs 2000 AD in 1996 and a remastered version of Open Up in 1999. 4:22 - 4:37 - J. Glenn Evans's poetry is well-known throughout the Pacific Northwest. He has published two books of poetry, Window In the Sky and Seattle Poems, plus a CD. He is the editor and publisher of PoetsWest Literary Journal and is the managing director of the PoetsSpeak reading series, conducted quarterly at the Frye Art Museum in Seattle. 4:38 - 4:48 - Olivia Noble Gunn is a student at the University of Washington. She is known for her powerful, honest poetry.4:49 - 5:06 - Beverly Graham will be performing her original songs, with their thought-provoking and moving lyrics. Her act will include African drums as well as guitar.5:07 - 5:17 - Lorraine Healy is an Argentinean poet, writer and translator living on Whidbey Island. The winner of several national poetry contests, she has been published extensively in literary journals and magazines in the United States and Argentina.5:18 - 5:23 - Michael Seraphinoff is relatively new to poetry, but has published a history of the Macedonian language (his family background). He will read several of his new original poems. 5:24 - 5:29 - John Raven has been awarded the William Stafford award for his poetry. In fact, Mr. Stafford gave this award to John Raven personally, not long before his death. 5:30 - 5:35 - Kevin Fristad will read his original poetry.5:36 - 5:55 - The Trickster Hero Orchestra will close the day's events. This ad hoc performance troupe includes Brent Purvis, Derek Parrott, Frazer Mann, Barton Cole and Mark Wahl -- five guys with solid performance credentials, and other attributes: Two of them born in the Year of the Boar, the three others are a Horse, a Tiger and a Rat. They are also a jazz theorist, an archetypal troubadour, a math professor, a raven and a legendary fisherman.The group's current project features a Hymn for Spring, described as a poem noir featuring Raven as a private eye and a raucous ode to crows. Their style of ensemble music/theater/storytelling is iconoclastic, whimsical and always reliably entertaining."