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Celebrate Poetry Month with 'Poetry Blast'

"Judith Walcutt (right) directs South Whidbey Intermediate School students Bridget Scott, Ray Mergens, Joshua Story, Cory Soto, and Killian Ross on how to physically express themselves while reading poetry. Together with husband David Ossman, Walcutt will host 'Poetry Blast' Friday.Matt Johnson / staff photo Poetry Blast: A Family Evening with Wonderful WordsFriday, April 6, 7:30 p.m. at the Whidbey Island Center for the Arts, LangleyAll seats, $5; call 221-8268 for more informationSponsored by the Island Arts Council, with proceeds going towards island arts endeavorsEmily Dickinson will be putting in an appearance at the Whidbey Island Center for the Arts on Friday. As will Tennyson, e.e. cummings, Pablo Neruda, Walt Whitman, Shel Silverstein, Shakespeare, and a host of other famous names in the world of poetry.They'll exist, of course, only through their words, as readers of all ages from South Whidbey read their poems and reacquaint an audience with those timeless thoughts. These readers will be presenting works which have influenced them, inspired them, or just plain grabbed them in a moment and held on for good, said Judith Walcutt, who with her husband David Ossman will host -- with humor-- the first Poetry Blast at WICA on Friday.It's National Poetry Month, Walcutt said. Every April people take time to remember the words they know and love, that have nourished them. It's like taking a bath in truth and beauty. Poetry has always been a central facet of life in their family, Walcutt said. We're all reading to each other all the time, she said. Their 8-year-old son Preston loves to be read to, and in his own right won the first place award in his division in the recent Writers Association contest.Both Walcutt and Ossman have also spent many years teaching poetry in the schools, where the kids have the time of their lives, she said.The most unexpected people show up. I think it's because poetry is a license to be completely inventive. You can break all the rules.Young people are also very aware of truth and beauty, and can recognize it in literature, Walcutt said.Many children will be involved in the Poetry Blast event, which will take on the form of a live poetry anthology. Among the readers will be Rene Neff's students, reading the words of Carl Sandburg, from his book, Poems for Children Not Nearly Old Enough to Vote. Walcutt has been working with the class to present a kind of dance poem.From the Waldorf School, readers will present a poetic life from American history. A kind of 'This Is Your Life,' Walcutt said.But it won't be all kids reading. David Ossman, an acclaimed actor and radio dramatist, will read from Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass, and poems by e.e. cummings. The father son team of Tom and Loren Churchill will perform also. I don't know what they're reading. But Loren can always very kinetically put words in motion, Walcutt said.There will be readings by Victory and Rob Schouten, and the family of Barton Cole, Joni Takanikos and son Max.Barton started reading Neruda odes to Max when he was four or five. One day, Max said 'I'm going to write an ode.' And he did, Walcutt said.There will be classical as well as contemporary poetry on stage. And during the show's intermission, there will be an audience-wide poetry slam.We'll give out three words, and ask the audience to write a five to seven syllable Haiku, Walcutt said. It'll be the longest Haiku ever written -- an endless Haiku, she laughed.Ossman and Walcutt are local writers and acclaimed radio producers, and have shared their love of poems with audiences of all ages. Their stage-play love is a place: an e.e. cummings cabaret played to packed houses in Langley a few years back, and their recent four-hour audio adaptation of L. Frank Baum's original children's book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz has been heard on public radio stations nationwide.Proceeds from the evening of poetry will be donated to the Island Arts Council to promote cultural programs for youth. "

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