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Limericks, listeners all welcome at Hillsboro event

Pink smoke, spiny porcupines and alien footprints showed up in the Walters Cultural Arts Center recently. That’s what you get when people share poetry (their own or others’) at Open Poetry Night, the second Tuesday of each month.

More than a dozen people regularly attend the event, which allows participants to perform poems they’ve written or read famous pieces (limited to three readings per person). For some, it’s a great way to improve a work in progress. For others, it’s the perfect opportunity to share their finished poetry with the community.by: TRIBUNE PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - Open Poetry host Joe Schrader chats with Kevin Peterson after Peterson gives a poetry reading.

Joe Schrader, a Hillsboro resident, sometimes serves as the event’s emcee.

“After my divorce I had an epiphany. I’m going to live to 102 years old, so I still have half my life,” said Schrader, who divorced at 51. “’I’m going to be a new guy,’ I said to myself.”

Schrader began taking creative writing classes and has been writing poetry for 20 years. He’s been attending Open Poetry Night since it began three years ago. The event started as a branch of the WCAC’s Spoken Word Lecture Series, but was so successful it went monthly.

Poetry night is open to all, regardless of experience, and includes everything from limericks to longer, abstract poems.

Aloha resident Stan Blumenthal enjoys writing lyrical pieces and has written more than 100 poems in the past three years. The March gathering was his second visit. “This is a great event to encourage poets to keep writing throughout the month,” he said. “We listen with a welcoming ear.”

People don’t have to perform to attend. The group welcomes listeners, such as Hillsboro resident Geraldine Sirois. Sirois, who calls herself a “closet poet,” has enjoyed simply listening so far, but plans to perform sometime soon.

Volunteers host the event, rotating the emcee every month. Organizers would like to draw more young people.

“This is a remarkable group,” said Maggie Chapin, Hillsboro Arts and Culture Council supervisor and creator of Open Poetry Night. “I’ve never met a more welcoming group. Anyone who attends the event never feels like an outsider.”

The next Open Poetry Night will be from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday, April 9, at the Walters Cultural Arts Center, 527 E. Main St. in Hillsboro.

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