Poets and students will prowl downtown

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Poets and students will prowl downtown

Claudia Castro Luna, the current Washington State Poet Laureate, will perform at this weekend's Inland Poetry Prowl

Claudia Castro Luna, the current Washington State Poet Laureate, will perform at this weekend's Inland Poetry Prowl

Robert Wade

Claudia Castro Luna, the current Washington State Poet Laureate, will perform at this weekend's Inland Poetry Prowl

Robert Wade

Robert Wade

Claudia Castro Luna, the current Washington State Poet Laureate, will perform at this weekend's Inland Poetry Prowl

Rune Torgersen, Online and Social Media Manager

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The fourth annual Inland Poetry Prowl begins this Friday, April 5, gathering poets from all over the U.S. in Ellensburg. It is a three-day celebration of poetry, community and the works of Sylvia Plath. Stretched across various downtown venues, the event seeks to tie together many forms of poetry, as well as other artistic expression. Attendees can expect inspiration from 23 different poets, novelists and musicians in addition to an open mic night and a live radio broadcast featuring live readings of Plath’s works.

Xavier Cavazos, an English lecturer at CWU, has been deeply involved as one of the organizers of the event. He said that although many artists’ works will be represented, the focus of the event remains on one artist, as it has the past three years that the event has been hosted.

“We focus on celebrating the life of the artist that we’re celebrating each year, so this year it’s Sylvia Plath,” Cavazos said.

According to Cavazos, Plath’s work is known for dealing with heavy subject matters while exploring the beauty in them. He said that the way poetry is able to condense and relate stories of the human experience is one of the things that makes it valuable.

“One of the things I think poetry does, particularly Sylvia Plath’s poetry, is making something beautiful out of brokenness,” Cavazos said.

The Poetry Prowl has been organized since its inception in 2016 by Joanna Thomas, a local visual artist and poet. According to Thomas, she was inspired to start the event when she noticed that Ellensburg didn’t have a big gathering of poets like the surrounding towns did. She was impressed at the turnout that first year.

“I was shocked because everybody showed up. Our poet laureate at the time was Tod Marshall, he came to our first event. He was like ‘oh my god you guys have got a little gem here, keep going’,” Thomas said.

According to Thomas, spreading the prowl out over about a dozen different venues helps to ensure people don’t get tired of the event. It also makes it more visual for those in downtown who may not have been aware that it was happening in the first place.

“We’re up, we’re moving, we’re meeting, we’re greeting, we’re spreading the word ‘poetry’, people see us walking through town like lemmings and they wonder what’s going on,” Thomas said.

Poets are grouped in venues based on the subject matter of their work, meaning each event will have a different theme, to go along with the change in scenery. The event is free to all attendees, which means audience members can come or go as they please.

Audience members aren’t necessarily people who study literature. Angel Jewel Gates, president of the Inklings Creative Writing Club, is an industrial engineering technology major, and believes that poetry can lend value to any life, regardless of one’s background or education.

“There’s always a reason to read, whether it be poetry or fiction or anything,” Gates said. “If you can find a connection to a piece of writing, it gives an internal sense of validation, like ‘oh I’m not alone in this.’”

According to Cavazos, the most essential event to attend will be the culmination of Saturday’s activities at Gallery One from 8-10 p.m. It will feature a poetry reading by Washington State Poet Laureate Claudia Castro Luna and a song written and performed in honor of Sylvia Plath by musician Karin Blaine. Drinks, cake and book signings will be available as well. A full list of events and performers can be found at inlandpoetry.com.

Cavazos encourages those who may be unfamiliar with the world of poetry to treat the event like a chance to try something new.

“I would really challenge people to get out of their comfort zones a little bit, like when the more literary types in Ellensburg will put on a pair of cowboy boots and a cowboy hat and check out the rodeo for a day, we want the community to check out poems for a day too,” Cavazos said.

 

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