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The Liberty Museum & Arts Center

Poetry readings from across the region at Liberty Museum & Arts Center

LIBERTY, NY — The Liberty Museum & Arts Center plays host to a variety of events with a variety of purposes—from art shows to jazz festivals to chili cook-offs—and this Saturday, it holds its 11th annual Poetry Festival, an event where wordsmiths of all stripes and specialties are invited to submit their work and present it to an eager audience. The deadline for this year’s submissions was on August 28, and the resultant lineup features a mixture of new and returning poets from all across the area.

“To me, a description of what poetry is might be ‘touching other people using words,’” says Marilyn Laufer, board member for the center and current coordinator of the festival. “Generally, just a few lines are used to evoke sorrow, empathy, joy, elation, outrage... and deep spiritual feelings which might not even have a name, but which a poet can sometimes awaken in the reader. This makes it a very personal experience when a poet brings his [or] her own work and shares it with an audience… That is why I so admire and respect the people who have been participating in our poetry festivals, year after year, and others for the first or second time. They seem to enjoy sharing and love having a place to come where they can do so. And the audiences who have attended seem to enjoy what they hear.”

“I learned about the poetry festival when Walter Keller, poet laureate of Liberty, began hosting them 11 years ago. I saw a blurb in the paper inviting poets to submit work to Walter, and he then went through each one and helped choose what would be shared at the reading. He moderated, poets came, and everyone had a great time, shared refreshments and went home looking forward to doing it again the next year.

“Unfortunately, Walter passed away about five years ago. But that model is the tradition we have been attempting to continue. And it seems to be working very well!” Laufer has coordinated the festival for three years now, and has maintained Keller’s system for poem selection and exhibition—and his spirit for the fine art of expression. This year’s event will feature 17 poets, and Laufer marvels at the “universal” range of talents and subjects involved. “Topics vary: everyday life and activities, nature, descriptions of nearby mountains and rivers, fantasy, political and social and environmental concerns. Styles vary: free verse, rhyming verse, structured poems, prose poems. Tones vary: whimsy, pedantic, humorous, angry, conspiring. In other words, there is something for everyone.”

The 11th annual Poetry Festival will be held on Saturday, September 16 at the Liberty Museum & Art Center, 46 South Main St., with the readings beginning at 2 p.m. Admission is free, but donations are accepted. Following the formal event, there will be refreshments and a reception where patrons can meet and greet the poets. For more information, call 845/292-6628.


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