Poet Laureate George Kalamaras visits group at Vera Mae's in Muncie IN

Midwest Writer's Workshop July 24-26

By Rick Yencer

MUNCIE, INDIANA (NEWS) - Some of the best poetry can be found in simple children's tales that taught reading and writing to generations. 

And Indiana's Poet Laureate George Kalamaras agreed, offering his respect to other poets while giving some who gathered for an evening of poetry his prose about life and death.

Midwest Writer's Workshop gathered local writers, poets and activists this week at Vera Mae's to celebrate National Poetry Month with readings from Kalamaras, an English professor at Indiana Purdue universities in Fort Wayne, along with Indiana poet JL Kato and Brittany Means who won a recent writers competition.

The writers group plans its annual outing July 24-26 at the Ball State University Alumni Center where local writers  hang with nationally known authors and documentarians.

This year, Elizabeth Berg, who wrote Durable Goods and Joy School, both on the New York Times best sellers list, will be a featured speaker along with Ball State's Kelsey Timmerman, who wrote those Where am I series on clothes and food besides building communities throughout the world.

The poetry event attracted local writers like Debra Gindhart Dragoo and activists like Barry Banks who runs the Redtail Nature Conservancy. 

Dragoo is planning her own poetry event next week while Banks has a walk in Henry County's Stout Woods on Sunday.

Kalamaras offered many of his life's tragedies  and triumphs making the audience feel like they were there when his house in Colorado burned down and his wife survived breast cancer.

Bringing those emotional traumas together in one prose brought feelings of anxiety and exstacy to the crowd just like his prose about not having children but if he did, he was a daughter called Delia for that  striking flower bearing the name.

Kato poems were reflections of his thoughts, life and history. The one reading about his mother, as a little girl who survived atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki illustrated suffering and pain of new Japanese Americans following World War II.

His humorous tale of the tenderloin trail in Indiana was described as tenderloins big as parking lot, wide as a beach, or even galaxy versions with two for one offers had the crowd laughing.

Means short poems about her life, and relationships were quick and to the point, but required the audience to think about the meaning.

Terry Whitt Bailey, Community Development director for Muncie, welcomed the group in behalf of the mayor, saying the city was a big promoter of arts and culture. Bailey was the first to direct the Cornerstone Center for Arts that gives youth and adults an opportunity for art, theater and music downtown.


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