SUNBURY — Sometimes poetry is too obscure to be understood. This is not one of those times.
Poets Melanie Simms and Maria James Thiaw will read their original works noon to 1 p.m. Saturday during the Sunbury River Festival at the amphitheater stage, with the Susquehanna River flowing behind them. Fittingly, as it turns out, because one of Simms’s poems, “Sunbury,” speaks about: “…the Susquehanna River/Shifting alongside her shore,/As the lithe boats flit across iridescent waves, and/An old gray wall stands sentinel/Offering testament to the tales of a great flood.”
“I'm reading my personal poetry about Pennsylvania, including poems I have about the Susquehanna River and Sunbury,” Simms said, “as well as a few historical poems about the Susquehanna River written in the 1700s and 1800s.”
The poetry reading event was actually an idea that spun off from Mark Lawrence at WKOK and a few other friends of his, Simms said. Lawrence invited her to read and she pulled from her growing resource of poetry friends to join her … and the marriage of poetry and the Sunbury River festival began. Last year launched the first poetry event at the Sunbury River Festival.
“I believe poetry gives us a unique opportunity to bridge many societal gaps, classes, and prejudices,” said Simms, who served as a former Perry County poet laureate of Pennsylvania and is the current President of the Association of Pennsylvania Poet's laureate. “It gives us an opportunity to set aside our differences and to just enjoy the beauty of our home and community.”
Maria James-Thiaw, poet and professor at Central Penn College, finds ways to coax humor and pain out of her words, sometimes in the same poem. Consider these lines from “La Fluer.” “He wasn’t pretty, nor could pecs/ be seen under his too respectable/ brown tweed jacket,/and yet in that moment,/he had lassoed the imagination of/every woman in the outdoor café./It was the way he leaned back in his/plastic chair without questioning/its strength to hold him,/closed his eyes, planted his face/in a thriving blossom/drew in air from his core, and took it all in.”
“I am the author of three books and one spoken word CD,” James-Thiaw said. “I have been performing my poetry for nearly two decades. I’ve performed all over Pennsylvania, in Tennessee, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, and even the South of France, which was awesome.”
James-Thiaw will be sharing poetry from her new book titled, “Talking White,” which was published in April 2013 by postDada Press. She’ll sign books after her reading.
“I write about a variety of subjects including culture, faith and love,” she said. “I recite poems that I feel will uplift an audience, make them think, and inspire them.”
For more information, visit the poets sites: Melanie Simms at www.poetmelaniesimms.wordpress.com, and Maria James-Thiaw at www.mariathepoet.wordpress.com. And be sure to stop by the amphitheater at noon to hear their words spoken aloud.