BELFAST, Maine — Poetry, performance, visual arts and dance took center stage in Belfast this weekend for the city’s fourth annual Poetry Festival.
The event included for the first time a poetry and performance collaboration Friday night at the American Legion Post No. 43 hall.
Writing workshops were held Saturday morning along with a collaboration of visual art and poetry, featuring six poets and six artists at six galleries Saturday afternoon. A reception in the afternoon at the Fall Out Cafi at Waterfall Arts, 256 High St., rounded out the events.
Organized this year by local poet Karin Spitfire, the festival opened with the Friday night performance that drew nearly 100 people at the Legion’s auditorium.
“Belfast attracts artists who can create a creative life for themselves and for one another,” Spitfire said in an interview Friday. “That draws more creative people.”
Spitfire said creativity “is one of the things that’s important in this time that’s going to get us out of the mess we’re in,” she said. “We flock to creativity, and collaborations make people create differently.”
“The first year of the festival was inspired by a group called Festivo,” she said. “That group disappeared, and [poet] Elizabeth Garber took over the mantle of doing the poetry festival with the help of me and Linda Buckmaster.
“Last year, Buckmaster and I did it together,” Spitfire said.
The Friday night performance segment is new to the festival, she said.
“I was a dancer and a performing artist before I was a poet,” she added. “I love to put on shows, and I thought this year it would be great to put poets and performing artists together, as well.”
On Saturday, the festival combined poetry and visual art, which she called the cornerstone of the festival for its four years.
Performers and poets Friday night included David Dodson and Spitfire, Jacob Fricke and Shana Bloomstein, Beverly Mann and Linda Buckmaster, and Alex McGregor and Chuck Smith, Andrea Goodman, Elizabeth Garber and Hila Shooter, Al Crichton and Michal Brown, and Dina Petrillo and Barbara Maria.
Brown of Off the Coast magazine and Crichton collaborated in a “slam poem,” a recitation of a poem as a performance before a live audience. Brown recited a poem while Crichton accompanied him on saxophone.
The audience then watched Shana Bloomstein and poet Jacob Fricke perform three separate pieces of combined poetry and modern dance.
In a darkened auditorium, Fricke spoke in deliberate tones from the back while Bloomstein moved onstage with the grace of a ballerina. Gradually he drew toward her, until they danced together on the stage.
Dodson and Spitfire stirred the audience with a performance of a poem, “Hold Fire.”
The two drew laughter with a satire on Wall Street — “Now’s a good time to buy a bank and watch the economy tank.”
The Saturday workshops included poets Joel Lipman, Kathryn Robyn and Barbara Maria.
Artists Wesley Reddick, Mark Kelly, Dina Petrillo Kimberly Callas, Joy Vaughan, Kate Buehner, Archie Barnes, Diane Courant, Joan Braun, Susan Tobey White, Meredith Alex and Cathy Melio collaborated at the galleries in the afternoons with poets Valerie Lawson, Mandi Locke, Barbara Maria, Gary Lawless, Andrea Read, Dave Moreau, Marcia Brown, Maggie Finch, Ruth Bookey, Kathleen Ellis, Patricia Ranzoni and Michael Macklin.