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Poets add visual to their art in public reading

PROCTORVILLE — A phantom girlfriend, a tabletop of keys and suicide seem to be disparate concepts with apparently no relationship to each other.

That is until they are brought together through the art of poetry.

That was the message that came out of a mixed media poetry reading Wednesday evening at Ohio University Proctorville. The reading was offered by Tri-State poets taking their wares to the public in the first in a series of such events.

“I’ve always been fascinated with art, music and writing. It is nice to see places where they intersect,” according to Matthew Wolfe, who was one of the guiding forces for the event.

Wolfe, who is also an English instructor at the OU Proctorville Center, said he and a fellow artist were brainstorming about possible avenues for poetry readings.

“We thought ‘Wouldn’t it be neat to do visual poetry,’ “ he said.

What they came up with were readings by fellow artists accompanied on a large screen by paintings, photography, collages, even a fragment from a Marx Brothers movies. All visual aids were chosen by the poets to complement their works.

Wolfe has written poetry since seventh grade and likes the “brevity and intensity” of the medium.

“Keep it short and simple and going to the heart of the matter,” he said is why poetry appeals to him.

Among those reading was Ron Houchin, a former Fairland High English literature and creative writing teacher. This fall Houchin will have a third poetry book coming out under an Irish publishing house.

“(Poetry) is not for people in a coma,” Houchin said before the reading. “To write you have to be willing to observe and reply to that. To read you have to do something similar.”

Houchin says he calls on an eclectic mix for his subject matter.

“Whatever grabs my attention,” he said. “I take an idea and mull it over for several days to a week.”

If the idea remains strong, he goes forward with the poem.

“I never know what it is going to be,” he said.

The poets’ group has plans to continue the readings through the summer and fall as venues become available.