By Emily Stonehouse
Have you ever wanted to dabble in poetry? But not sure where to start? This may be your chance.
Minden local Dave Wilfong would like to kickstart a Poetry in the Park initiative to encourage folks of all ages to explore the world of poetry. “I’d love people to read their own work,” Wilfong told the Times, “but if they find something they love, and research that, they can of course share that as well.”
Poetry in the Park is practiced around the world, yet Wilfong noted that oftentimes, the programs are offered in larger cities. “I just really want to get the ball rolling here,” he said.
Wilfong’s love of poetry started at a young age, but really took off after his grandmother passed away. In the process of cleaning out her home, he noticed a small notebook that was filled with scribbles of poetry throughout it. “I didn’t know that my grandmother did that,” he said, “but some of the stuff moved me to tears. I learned that she would sit down with her friends and they would all write together. That’s when I started to realize the importance of it; the emotions it can bring.”
Later on, he was inspired by a friend of his from Temagami, who introduced him to the concept of Poetry in the Park. This got the gears turning for Wilfong, who thought that this type of initiative would go over well in the creative community of Minden.
“So, I put up a Facebook post to see if there would be any interest, and there was right away,” he said.
Wilfong is hoping that by offering the program during after-school hours, it will allow students to explore the world of poetry as well. “I am really aiming for all ages,” he said, “I would love to encourage the younger generation to pick it up.”
Once this concept takes off locally, Wilfong hopes to expand the initiative by collaborating with local libraries and poets to encourage up and coming writers to continue to explore the craft.
He shared that while Poetry in the Park will be completely judgment-free, if someone is feeling a little nervous, they are more than welcome to join the session as an audience member. “Come on out,” he said, “all are welcome, let’s enjoy it and make an audience.”
The first Poetry in the Park will be held at the Minden Hills Cultural Centre in the Welch Room on July 20 from 5 to 6 p.m. There is no cost to participate, and all are welcome.
Wilfong has started a Facebook group to provide updates on the movement, called “Poetry in the Park Haliburton Highlands” and everyone can join.
“You don’t have to speak it,” he said, “you don’t have to write it, you just really have to enjoy it.”