A lot of people don’t understand poetry. Many believe that poems must rhyme, but that’s not true. Others think that poetry is all about flowers, rainbows and unicorns. That’s not true, either. Poetry is a form of self-expression, using language, that can be greatly emotional for the speaker/writer and have a similar effect on the listener/reader.
Neal Krakover wants to increase the public’s appreciation of poetry. The Lobelia resident, also a talented musician and photographer, started writing poetry when he was in junior high school. After moving to West Virginia, he met Elkins poet Doug Van Gundy, and the two have read their poetry at the Cultural Center in Charleston.
Krakover participated in the Hillsboro Library’s poetry series and decided that local poets needed a larger stage.
“The reason the Opera House is better than a library is that it’s better acoustics and a little bit more convenient,” he said. “I thought, let’s do a one-time event, at least an introduction to All Terrain Poetry, by having this event and letting it generate. The Opera House is really into the idea of having a series a couple times a year here. So, this is the first of many more at this Opera House. It’s the start – building the momentum – and this is a great place for it.”
Krakover said “all terrain” is meant to convey the different inspirations and forms that poetry can take. The organizer said his poetry is a perfect example.
“It’s all over the place, to be honest with you,” he said. “In fact, I wrote a couple poems this week. A lot of them come from current events, heartbreak, sorrow, joy, finding yourself – whatever problems are about. I also think that a lot of people are poets, but they don’t enjoy performing.”
Several local poets gathered up their courage and took to the stage Saturday night. Among them was Wolf Knight, previously featured in The Pocahontas Times for his Army service in Vietnam.
“I’ve written maybe 50 poems,” he said. “Just a lot of stuff has to bubble out. I’ve got a strange world view.”
Knight said reciting poetry had given him an ego boost.
“You get a lot of ego satisfaction out if it,” he said. “I’ve always told everybody, the first time or first couple times you get up on the stage, you’re really scared. But the second or third time, they can’t drag you back off of there. If you’re going to be a poet, you’ve got to be egotistical. People might not think so, but you’re telling them, ‘hey, listen to my viewpoint.’ Any poet has got a wide streak of egotism and they want people to listen to their version of the world.”
Marlinton musician, author and poet Dwayne Kennison said it helps to have a crazy streak, too.
“I’ve written a couple hundred poems,” he said. “I would say I just write what the voices in my head tell me to. It’s just fun. You’ve got to be crazy enough to like to go into the spotlight and do things like this, just like music or acting. It’s hard to be shy and do anything like this.”
Knight said the effect of a good poem is similar to that of a hypnotist’s swinging pendant.
“To me, a good poem is almost like hypnosis, because that’s what they’re doing when they hypnotize you,” he said. “They’re just focusing your attention so tightly that they can get you to lay across two chairs and not bend your back. A good poem is the same way. It’s focusing your attention. That’s why they used to do it in rhyme, to catch your attention better. It doesn’t have to be rhyming poetry, it just has to draw you in.”
Other poets appearing Saturday night were VanGundy, Kirk Judd, Mary Moore McLaughlin, Uncle Edward Wabbit, Megan Moriarty, Margaret Baker and Lynmarie Knight. A portion of the event proceeds were donated to the High Rocks Academy writing program.