Carroll poetry lovers organize group, hold readings, contest

December 28, 1992|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,Staff Writer

Carroll County's fertile fields had, until this year, not produce a thriving poetry group.

But the writers who came together in April to form Poetry Forum are now hoping to scatter the seeds of verse everywhere they can, such as with the student poetry contest they are now sponsoring, and a lending library on writing and poetry.

"Poetry seems to have little nooks and crannies where it hides out," said Laurie Precht of Furnace Hills, one of the founding members of Poetry Forum.

"Like an English muffin," laughed Susan Tegeler of Taylorsville, another founding member.

"Down in Baltimore, there are so many places where poetry is heard, but if you go into the average Joe bar, you're not going to hear it," Ms. Precht said.

It's the same way in Carroll, she said. Someone has to create an opportunity for poets to read their work and a forum for them to share ideas.

"We are the cream cheese on the English muffin," she said.

The forum grew out of the interest generated from a poetry reading/coffeehouse about a year ago. One hundred people came out for the event, called Offerings and sponsored by the Carroll County Arts Council.

Within the next month, a few calls started coming into the Arts Council asking whether there was a poetry group in Carroll.

One of those callers was Ms. Precht. Council director Hilary Pierce got the poets together. They had their first meeting in April and have met the fourth Sunday of every month since then at the council's gallery at 15 E. Main St.

They sponsored another reading, called Sonnets and Strings, in July at the Carroll County Farm Museum, at which the audience was called upon to contribute to a group poem: Each person was given a slip of paper with an assignment to write one line ending with a particular word.

About five poets show up every month for the meetings, and a few more people come now and then. In addition to Ms. Tegeler and Ms. Precht, the regulars are Dolores Maminski, Laura Van Der Linden and Stephen Johnston.

Their backgrounds range from business to the arts. Ms. Van Der Linden helped her husband run VDL Construction until new employees took over her duties; Ms. Maminski is a librarian; Ms. Precht publishes a small literary journal called "LMNO Press"; Ms. Tegeler is a poet, artist and singer working on a master's degree at Western Maryland College; Mr. Johnston is working in security for a department store until he can get a break in radio announcing or writing.

Yesterday's meeting was spent choosing five student poets, one from each high school in the county, to present their work at the group's next poetry reading Feb. 13.

But most of the time, after the business of planning the next event, the poets share their work, prime each other with writing games or share poetry they have read.

At one meeting, the group challenged Ms. Van Der Linden and Mr. Johnston each to write a poem in the other's style, because they are so different.

At the November meeting, they each wrote a first line and gave it to another poet in the group to finish.

"We had to compete for the lines," Ms. Van Der Linden said. "We had to tell the author what we'd do with it."

"I find that being with the group really keeps me on my toes," Ms. Maminski said.

"If I have a deadline for something, I'll produce it. I'm writing more now than I ever did."

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