WCCC To Celebrate 30th Anniversary of Dodge Poetry

The Warren County Community College Visiting Authors Series continues on Saturday, October 21, with a celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival, the largest gathering of poets in North America. The event, beginning at 12 p.m. on WCCC’s campus (475 Route 57 West) in room E206, is free and open to the public. Books will be available for purchase.  

The reading is the culminating event in a yearlong celebration, and will feature Martin Jude Farawell (photo), poet and playwright, who has served as the director of the Dodge Poetry Festival since 2009, as well as 13 other poets who have read their work at one or more of the festivals during the 30-year history. 

Martin Jude Farawell is the author of a chapbook “Genesis: A Sequence of Poems,” and his work has appeared in a variety of journals and anthologies. His plays have been performed off-off-Broadway and by regional, college, community and international theaters from South Africa to Los Angeles. 

The other 13 poets who will be featured during the October 21 event are Laura Boss, Kenneth Hart, Susan Jackson, Charles H. Johnson, Tina Kelley, Diane Lockward, John McDermott, Peter E. Murphy, Khalil Murrell, Priscilla Orr, Joe Weil, Gretna Wilkinson, and Sander Zulauf. 

The Dodge celebration kicked off at WCCC on February 15 with a reading by Jim Haba, who, with Scott McVay, established the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival in 1986 in northwestern New Jersey. Haba oversaw the festival from its inception until 2008, a period during which the event grew year by year to become the largest poetry gathering in North America. During his appearance, Haba read from his own poetry as well as many of his favorite poems by others that were part of the first 22 years of the festival. 

WCCC’s celebration continued on March 2 with a reading by the festival’s co-founder, Scott McVay, who read from his recently published memoir, Surprise Encounters with Artists and Scientists, Whales and Other Living ThingsMcVay is the founding executive director of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation. During his WCCC event, he read passages about, among other things, the efforts he took to hire Haba as the festival director, the joy and surprises of overseeing the development of the growing festival, and his personal encounters with some of the world’s most celebrated poets. 

The schedule on October 21 is as follows:  

12 to 12:45 Panel Discussions: 

Room E206:  “Favorite Memories of the Dodge Poetry Festival” 

Room E209:  “Poetry: The Violence Within / The Violence Without” 

1:00 to 2:15 Poetry Sampler: The Dodge Festival Poets  

2:30 to 3:00 Poems by Martin Farawell 

3:00 to 3:45 Favorite Poems by Others, as read by Dodge Poets 

4:00 to 4:30 Favorite Poems from the First 30 Years of the Dodge Main Stage, as read by Martin Farawell 

This event, as well as the first two parts of the celebration, is supported by a grant from the Warren County Cultural and Heritage Commission. All facilities comply with ADA regulations and are fully accessible. Sign language interpreters are available with one week’s notice.  

The next event in Warren County Community College’s Visiting Authors Series will feature Beth Ann Fennelly, Poet Laureate of Mississippi, on Wednesday, November 29. She will conduct a late-afternoon masterclass and an evening reading from her new book of micro-memoirs, Heating & Cooling (Norton 2017).  

Warren County Community College offers students the option of earning an Associate of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, the first and only degree of its kind in New Jersey and one of only five in the nation to be recognized as a viable A.F.A. by the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP).  For more information about the Visiting Authors Series or the A.F.A. in Creative Writing, please visit www.warren.edu or call 908-835-WCCC.  

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