ORANGE PARK -- They are an eclectic group and their artistry,
much like the music lyrics that refer to different strokes for
different folks, can be as different as night and day.
Such was the case at the third annual Orange Park Poetry
Festival in Orange Park's Town Hall Park Saturday, where poets
came from all over Florida to read works on love, war, rain,
snowy days, death, environmental issues and affairs of the
The poets -- young and older, some with long hair and others
with not as much hair, sporting outfits that included jeans,
long dresses, headbands, caps and hats -- were as different as
their writing. Some sat and spoke solemnly while others told
humorous tales and some mixed music with their words.
Such variety is what many say draws them to these events.
"Some poems touch the soul, while others let you go home
knowing that your life is not as bad as you thought," said Carla
Brinck, who lives on Jacksonville's Westside and says she
appreciates poetry and the people who write it. "When I was a
teen I used to hang and listen to poets in Riverside Park and I
am still hanging out and listening to them. There is just
something about listening to the words that I like."
Organizers of the festival said a number of people are
rediscovering poetry and interest in the subject is on the rise.
"I once heard that a poet can't steal your soul, but I think a
poet can lend their soul to those who don't have one or can't
find theirs," said John Hammond, whose desire to bring poets
together resulted in the forming of the festival. "My interest
in poetry began 50 years ago and I would like to see this event
grow to include classes and seminars on the subject. Poets have
a lot to offer people because they know about problems and care
enough to reach us emotionally through poetry."
One of the youngest poets to take the stage was Arion Warren,
7, a blond-haired, blue-eyed first-grader at Orange Park
Elementary School. When asked why she writes poetry, she
clutched her stuffed penguin and the words rolled out almost as
if she were getting ready to write another poem.
"I just think of things I want to say, I write them down, I
read over them and then I write more about it," said the
thoughtful youngster. …