Poet, percussionist building community through art

Poet Michael Czarnecki presenting new work in Winchester

Poet Michael Czarnecki is returning to the valley to present his newest work, an experimental, multimedia program titled “All One Song,” with percussionist Sue Spencer on Saturday.

Sponsored by the Friends of the Handley Regional Library, the event will be held at 2 p.m. in the auditorium of Handley Library at 100 W. Piccadilly St. in Winchester.

This will be the fourth time they have done the program in full, and the first time outside of New York state. Focused on bringing people together with nature through percussion, photography, poetry and prose, the impetus for the program came from Czarnecki and Spencer’s interest in the environment and the natural world.

Included in the program are quotes such as this one from poet Gary Snyder: “The first step, I think, and that’s why it’s in my poetry, is to make us love the world rather than to make us fear for the end of the world. Make us love the world, which means the nonhuman as well as the human, and then begin to take better care of it.”

According to Czarnecki, “This is about bringing in more than just poetry and saying something, considering the way things are environmentally, that I think people need to hear.”

“The response we’ve gotten so far has been wonderful. I’m connected to the Winchester community and I’m excited to present this work.”

Czarnecki first visited Winchester in August 2013 during a 48-state poetry tour. He has since returned several times for poetry readings and community gatherings.

“I really like the Winchester area. It’s nice geographically, and has wonderful people and a lot of great creativity.”

This will be Spencer’s first time visiting.

Along with this event, local residents are trying to promote poetry in the area by holding monthly poetry readings at the library. The first such event occurred on May 27. Dubbed the Shenandoah Poetry Alliance by founder and Winchester resident John Berry, future meetings will be held on the second Wednesday of the month from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in the Handley Library auditorium.

Berry considers himself both a friend and a fan of Czarnecki. “This is a man who dedicated his life to poetry. I like to say he’s the poet’s poet,” said Berry.

Czarnecki devoted himself fully to poetry about 21 years ago. “I needed to do that. I was 43 and I realized I should be doing what’s important to me. Poetry and sharing was what was important. I feel strongly that we should not waste our life away,” said Czarnecki.

Since then he has made a career publishing poetry through his company FootHills Publishing, going on the road and working at schools as a poet-in-residence. “It’s been a struggle. I’m certainly not rich money-wise but I feel very rich.”

“I think we’re all creative in our own way. It doesn’t have to be poetry,” he said. “I just think it’s important that we express ourselves.”

To learn more about Czarnecki and “All One Song,” visit http://foothillspublishing.com/aos.

Contact staff writer Hilary Legge at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or hlegge@nvdaily.com

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