Heart: Darkness to Light Silverton Poetry Festival reopens its doors

February 2023 Posted in Events & Holidays

By Brenna Wiegand

Silverton Poetry Festival is back in person for the first time in three years.

Founder Steve Slemenda was all for calling its 20-year run good when the pandemic hit, but Kelley Morehouse, his longtime colleague in the undertaking, just couldn’t let poetry slip away that easily.

She kept momentum going through the pandemic through regular open mic events that have remained well attended.

“It’s really a place that gives people a voice and where you can be heard,” Morehouse said. “It’s a people’s art.”

One needn’t be a poet to take part in the festival. The Favorite Poem Project invites people to share a poem that is meaningful to them in some way.

“Really think about it,” Slemenda said. “Did your grandmother sing a nursery rhyme to you? … any grouping of words that seems poetry-like, just come and share it and talk about why.”

The group has moved the festival from April to February. 

“February is the harbinger of spring; the month of transitioning so we just decided move to February with the idea that poetry could take us out of the darkness,” Slemenda said.

They’re excited to have John Brehm as featured poet. “He’s a Buddhist, and his poetry has a wonderful spiritual quality with hope and light,” Morehouse said.

Featured poets are presenting for love of the art. The library offered to host and a deal was worked out with the Gordon House in exchange for a work party on the grounds.

“We are not a nonprofit anymore so we can’t ask for donations,” Morehouse said. “We don’t have funds now and I think in the future what we’ll do is write grants.”

“Being a nonprofit means the meetings and the paperwork that we were never good at,” Slemenda said. “We’re not wired that way.” 

“We like that it’s less formal,” Morehouse said, “but it means we don’t have the funding we had before.”

Poetry Festival events

Feb. 17

Favorite Poem Project
Silver Falls Library, 3-4 p.m.
Share a poem that is special to you and why. Free

Talking Poets
Silver Falls Library, 5:30-7 p.m.
Featured poets Clemens Starck and Lisa Gerlits give a reading followed by an interactive discussion of each poet’s work. Free

Feb. 18

Poetry Workshop:
Writing to the Heart of the Poem

Silverton Arts Association, 1-3 p.m.
Marilyn Johnston guides participants through various methods and prompts to help them write to the very heart of what their poem is about.

Cost: $40; limit: 15. For availability and registration, call Steve Slemenda at 503-269-7895.  Register by sending a check, made payable to Marilyn Johnston, c/o Steve Slemenda, 121 Rock St., Silverton OR, 97381. Please include email address for confirmation.

John Brehm

John Brehm

Featured Poet Reading
Heart: from Darkness to Light
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Gordon House
869 W Main St., Silverton, 4-6 p.m.
John Brehm reads his work followed by short readings from poets Juan Cervantes, Liaken Hadley, Efrain Diaz Horna, Marc Janssen, Sherri Levine, Jade Rosina McCutcheon, RS Stewart and Kristin Thomas.

Donations welcome at all events.

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