Poets, writers demostrate craft at Martinsburg library

April 09, 2006|By PEPPER BALLARD


Ethan Fischer switched hats - taking off a wool driving cap and replacing it with a fedora - to get in character Saturday for a group of poets and authors gathered at Martinsburg-Berkeley County Public Library.

Wearing the fedora and holding a book of his own poetry, Fischer, an adjunct English professor at Shepherd University, explained his new role as Johnny Dime, Poet of Crime, telling the group that the character he created is tough - "takes a shower in a trench coat," often gets help from his mother to solve the case and has a cat who practices karate.

Fischer was one of nearly 20 authors who read Saturday from their work as part of "Meet the Authors," a program sponsored by the library in celebration of National Library Week.


Tom Donlon, who was awarded a 2006 Artist Fellowship for Poetry by the West Virginia Commission on the Arts, explained that his children influence much of his poetry, before reading from a poem called "Ballet Lesson."

"Lily writhes, her face contorted from catching her finger in the car door," he read and then compared that face to the faces worn by the mythological character Dido.

While each poet took their turn behind the lectern Saturday, positioned beside a black piano and in front of white walls near the library's reference section, the faces of audience members shifted from understanding to elation as they reacted to the carefully selected words written by each member. The room was silent aside from the hum from the air filter and copier machine motors and intermittent careful crunches, which were made by a librarian stapling papers nearby.

Each poet not only told a story through their written words, but told a tale explaining its context.

Mona Adams, a member of Athens on the Opequon, told the group that she was inspired to write a poem, "Butterflies for Mommies," paralleling her mother's 23-year battle with breast cancer to her own battle with the disease.

Carlos Rubio, who was born in Cuba and came to the United States in 1961, explained how he sometimes switches between Spanish and English on his projects.

Reading from "Secret Memories," one of Rubio's recent novels, Rubio explained that the book was about an unnamed female painter and unnamed male writer who lived together at a beach house over the winter.

In one of the memories, he explained a woman who had "a red heart over your left breast ... You walk into the water, slowly without looking back."

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