On Saturday July 20th, 2013 Poets Network & Exchange in association with Garito Manor presented and hosted Painting Words, A Collage of Voices with featured poets/wordsmiths Heather Archibald, Jill Austen, Gary Johnston and Barbara Newsome. There was much buzz about the event on social media, online and in hardcopy publications. Painting Words, A Collage of Voices delivered stellar performances, and the finest of poetry from a group of amazing featured and open mic poets.
Guests entered the event wearing expressions of excitment and expectation on their faces. It was clear they came eager and expectant to share in a rewarding experience. Guests came with friends and engaged in conversation with other attending guests. Once guest were signed in they received a free raffle ticket. Raffle ticket? Yes, raffle ticket. In keeping with the spirit of the event Poets Network & Exchange raffled off five anthologies of poetry from College of New Rochelle students. Guests were invited to help themselves to refreshments and information from our literature table.
The program began with a welcome and sharing a brief historical background on Poets Network & Exchange and its programs. This was followed by an introduction of one of two open mics. The first open mic brought three talented poets Dale Walkonin, Carmen Bardeguez-Brown and Virginia Gilley to the mic. Carmen Bardeguez-Brown read a phenomenal poem with the resounding chorus I pray. She spoke passionately of Trayvon Martin, historical figures and the fight against oppression and injustices.
First poet/wordsmith to arrive was Gary Johnston. Gary Johnston, co-founder of Blind Beggar Press arrived with books and CD’s to sell, to the delight of those present. Gary utilized this time to meet and exchange with attending guests. Next poet/wordsmith to arrive was Jill Austen who swept into the room wearing bursts of hot deep tangerine orange. Barbara Newsome arrived with a huge smile and open arms. Heather Archibald arrived draped in a lovely colorful African gown and head wrap.
Heather Archibald, Jill Austen, Gary Johnston and Barbara Newsome gave phenomenal presentations, bringing audience members to tears, laughter, smiles and voices raised in acknowledgement. Each poet/wordsmith’s words were powerfully shared with their audience. Gary Johnston’s singing leading into recollections of family history. Sharing humanity’s family of pain, suffering, Judas’ betrayal and God’s ever present love. Barbara Newsome’s emotional and heart rendering stories and poems of Black servants and caring for White children. Their tradition of loving and nurturing those they were hired to care for. I continue to hear courageous servant women crying out from the past. Jill Austen’s poems were humorous, largely with food as their subject and filled with colors and surprise. Heather Archibald shared the magic, colors and splendor of Saint Kitts.
The raffle took place to the delight of attendees and was co-facilitated with poets Nicholas Howard Jennings and yours truly.
The second open mic took place with poet Nicholas Howard Jennings reading three poems about his family and the environment, followed by his mom poet Juliet P. Howard reading two heart wretching poems one a tribute to Trayvon Martin and one about a young girl growing up in Harlem. Our last poet to read was Peter Velotti reading his poem about Trayvon Martin.
Thank you to Poets & Writers, NYSCA, our featured poets, the attending audience, JoAnn Trifono and Garito Manor staff.
This event was funded in part by Poets & Writers, Inc. with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.
Photos Juliet P. Howard
©Lorraine Currelley 2013. All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized duplication of this material without express and written permission from this author is strictly prohibited.