KEARNEY — Times of social distancing can fuel creativity.
“We’re all looking for sources of inspiration at this point, along with things that are uplifting,” said Mark Foradori, one of the founders of the Prairie Art Brothers. “Certainly poetry has the capacity to do that. When you use words to write a poem, you’re saying things you can’t say in prose.”
Poetry also can create vivid, concise and touching images in the mind of the reader.
“That’s been the tradition in poetry,” Foradori said. “I think this is a great time to gather some poets together and have them share their work as people are looking for some positive inspiration. It will be hard to not hear a poem and think how it relates to what everybody is going through right now. That’s the magic of any significant artwork; you see yourself reflected in that artwork and it touches you in a way that seems very personable.”
Prairie Art Brothers will present “Masked Poetry Reading” at 7 p.m. Aug. 6 at the Cottonmill Amphitheater at Cottonmill Park, 2795 Cottonmill Ave. The open mic event will feature three central Nebraska-based poets with time for other writers to present five to 10 minutes of their material.
Admission to the reading is free.
The Prairie Art Brothers nurtures creativity in poetry by hosting readings, as part of the Front Porch Reading Series, six times a year. The group has postponed readings during the past six months due to the COVID-19 shutdowns.
Foradori understands how societal events can affect creativity. He also believes that social distancing and lockdown rules have accelerated how poets react to the world, creating powerful moments of poetry.
“There always have been moments like that in our Front Porch Poetry readings,” he said. “I don’t think this will be any different.”
The outdoor reading will offer plenty of seating.
“We’re going to do this in the safest way possible,” Foradori said, “The Masked Poetry Reading will give writers a chance to express their creativity while still keeping a physical distance from other people.”
Patrons are encouraged to bring a picnic dinner to the event.
Foradori sees the value of gathering for a public reading, even during times of a pandemic.
“We met some friends at the park several days ago,” he said. “You really treasure those opportunities to get together. We all took them for granted before. Now we treasure those moments when we can get together and just have a conversation or exchange a few ideas. That’s what these poetry readings are always about.”
Foradori describes the Masked Poetry Reading as a combination of prepared readings and an open mic event.
“We want to be sure that when the audience comes, we’ll have some good readers,” he said. “But the nature of an open mic reading allows for some pleasant surprises. We had an open mic reading last July and we had some very lovely readings by folks who just showed up.”
For inexperienced poets, an open mic gives them a place to test their work.
“We’re hoping to give people a safe and comfortable place to come and try out anything they’ve written that they want to read for an audience,” Foradori said. “It will be safe because people will be wearing masks and it will be comfortable because we’ll have some very supportive established poets reading, too.”
Foradori expects to be surprised by the variety, sophistication and experience of the poets.
“Some of the poets we’re featuring are well-established and well-respected poets in the area,” he said. “Chuck Peek is very highly regarded. He’s won awards for his work. So has Terry Schifferns. Kevin Nestiel has read for us several times and he’s always a delight because he writes not only thoughtful poems, but he also has a very emphatic way of delivering them.”
Poets who wish to share their work can just show up to read without preregistering.