Poets to Share Their Works Saturday in Orange Park

Article excerpt

Love. Hate. Death. Injustice. Beauty. Nature.

Such common themes have been expressed and analyzed for

centuries by poets, some of whom will gather Saturday for a

public poetry reading in the park next to Orange Park Town Hall.

The third annual Orange Park Poetry Festival will begin at 10

a.m. and continue until 4 p.m. at the park pavilion. The public

is invited to listen to the poets or join in by reading some of

their own musings.

"We had about 40 people at last year's festival," said Bob

Disher, owner of Backwater Bookstore on Kingsley Avenue and a

founder of the Orange Park Writers Group, sponsor of the

festival.

But the fledgling festival is growing in popularity. Last

year's attendance was roughly double that of the previous year,

Disher said.

"A successful poetry reading is when there are more listeners

than poets," he said, encouraging people to bring a picnic

basket and plan to spend the day.

John Hammond, a member of the writing group and an avid

environmental poet, said this will be the festival's second

consecutive year at the municipal park.

"It's a good spot for a festival," he said. "People can bring a

lunch and just kick back."

Most poets, Hammond said, are motivated by one thing.

"The ultimate goal is to spread poetry -- period," he said.

"Some of us have small books of poetry out, generally

self-published. But for the most part poets . . . believe they

have something to say."

Hammond, who moved from Maryland to Orange Park 18 years ago,

said his love of poetry was sparked 50 years ago when he was 11

and first read something by Rudyard Kipling. His passion today,

he said, is writing about the environment and the damage man has

caused the oceans, rivers and forests.

"I use poetry to try to make people more aware," he said. "The

first step is to be aware. The next step is to care."

He spreads awareness of the delicate balance between nature and

man by teaching a 4-H Marine Camp for youths at Marineland, and

by working with scientists from the University of Florida to

spread important social messages about the environment. …