Yesterday, I took part of a panel discussion at the Osterhout Library in Wilkes-Barre in celebration of National Poetry Month. I could talk for hours and hours about my relationships with poetry and why I love the genre, but that’s not why I enjoyed this event. I liked it because I looked out and saw young people in the audience, including one high schooler with a stack of books, and an elementary student. Both have an interest in writing, and they were wide-eyed and on the edge of their seats while we talked about the writing process and our key influences.
After the event, I thought about how lucky I am to live in an area that has events like this. Throughout April, Osterhout is running a series of free poetry workshops. The library has also held various poetry and prose readings, and it publishes a literary magazine, Word Fountain. A few blocks down from the library, there is a reading series the third Friday of every month at ArtSEEN Gallery in Wilkes-Barre, and Scranton includes the Prose in Pubs series and the New Visions series. As I chatted with the two young members of the audience yesterday, I thought about how important community is to writing, how we need mentors and friends involved in the writing process because no one outside of such a community cares that we write.
Students in one of my creative writing classes this semester understand the importance of community, since they decided to create a writing workshop outside of class. I’m also starting to see more and more students at various literary events in the community. That’s what it’s all about, supporting each other, guiding each other, and forming something bigger than one’s own writing.