The 17th Annual West End Poetry Festival will take place at the Carrboro Town Hall and the Century Center on Oct. 14 and 15, respectively.
The festival was held online for the past two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Organized by the Carrboro Poets Council, the event will open at 7 p.m. on Oct. 14 with a poetry prompt workshop, hosted by poets Jessica Jacobs and Nickole Brown.
The workshop, called “Awareness is a Time Machine,” focuses on the importance of being aware and the relationship between awareness and the concept of time.
“It looks at how slowing down and paying attention can help us move through time, expand time, and also make time sacred,” Jacobs said.
The workshop is based on a book that Jacobs and Brown co-authored, titled "Write It! 100 Poetry Prompts to Inspire." Jacobs described the workshop as “generative.”
Jacobs and Brown also host free WRITE IT! Sessions online, encouraging poets of all ages and experience levels to respond to poetry prompts and share works with others.
The festival will also feature poetry readings, during which poets Joan Barasovska, Cedric Tillman, Jacinta White and Alana Dagenhart will read poems from their recent books.
Dagenhart said she will read from her recent publication, "Yellow Leaves," which she wrote after her father passed away in 2015. This book centers around the emotional struggles that come with losing a loved one, as well as how to understand and manage them.
“I think a lot of people can identify with it, anybody that’s experienced some kind of grief in their life, but then I’m trying to move beyond that because it’s so consuming,” she said.
After the poetry reading, an event called “Poetry in the Round” will invite all writers to share their poetry with the group.
Gideon Young, a poet and member of the Carrboro Poets Council, said hearing poets from different backgrounds share their work is a learning opportunity that brings elements of human truth to light.
“Poetry is a chance for people from all different backgrounds to come together and share truths and wisdom — to share their hearts and listen to each other’s hearts in environments that are very supportive,” Young said.
Following “Poetry in the Round,” poets Abigail Browning and Liza Wolff-Francis will read the Community Poem.
The Community Poem consists of lines that are written by members of the Carrboro community. This year, community members were asked to submit lines of poetry that relate to the annual theme: “Music in Poetry.”
Wolff-Francis said she and Browning were able to arrange individual lines of poetry into three possible poems. She said the experience was like hearing a flow of voices because each line was written by a different person.
The festival will close with readings from featured poets Alan Shapiro, Jessica Jacobs, Nickole Brown, current Carrboro Poet Laureate Fred Joiner and incoming Carrboro Poet Laureate Wolff-Francis.
Young said the festival promotes the normalcy of poetry as a part of the Carrboro community. He said that, while poetry readings are taking place in the Century Center, people from other departments, such as the Carrboro Police Department, come in to listen.
Wolff-Francis said the festival serves as a community-building event for Carrboro, because people are able to connect with each other.
“It’s basically a time for the community to come together in poetry, '' she said.
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