Allegany Arts Council Celebrates Love
Imagine sipping wine in a brightly colored room, while listening to your favorite love poems. Those who attended Allegany Arts Council’s tenth annual Valentine’s Day poetry reading on Feb. 11 experienced just that.
The reading opened with Emily Thomas, a staff member of the Allegany Arts Council, who began the night reciting a short, witty love poem. There were a variety of other guests who recited love poems, including Jennifer Browne and Gerard LaFemina, both Frostburg State University English professors.
Other guests recited a variety of other poems about love, want, and wishful thinking. Each poem was read thoughtfully with admiration of the poem and its poet. To show the audience that poetry is not always a feminine genre, a 15-year-old guest bravely stood up and recited a love poem he had written himself.
LaFemina, also co-director of the event, recited a variety of poems before the audience. Among LaFemina’s many recitations, he memorably recited a poem that he had written after finding lost love letters in a local restaurant. The letters were written by a female high school student about a boy named Andrew.
The event was held in partnership with the Allegany Arts Council and the Frostburg Center for Creative Writing. This event first began when LaFemina began working with FSU, and coordinated the event with Andy Vick, a member of the Allegany Arts Council. LaFemina said, “I just thought it would be a simple way to celebrate love, and to bring the literary arts to the area. Everyone has at least one love poem in them, right?”
Although the turnout for the event was unusually small, the poem reading was a success for those who participated. The guests were mostly adults, with less than a handful of people under 21. LaFemina said, “[I wish] more people had come out. Love and poetry and all art, really, are about paying attention. I think that’s why this program works.”
According to LaFemina, in the previous years of its existence, the event has attracted 30 to 40 people. LaFemina also said, “I like, though, that we get a lot of people who come out to just listen and a lot of people who don’t think of themselves as ‘poets’ per se who come out and read their work or the work they love.”
The Valentine’s Day poetry reading is held annually at the Allegany Arts Council, located at 9 N. Centre Street, Cumberland in the community room. Watch the Allegany Arts Council’s calendar of events on their website.