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Festival highlights creative writing

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ORIGINAL POETRY:Franklin Erock, a sixth-grader from Eastbrook South Elementary, reads his poem about an ape at the Barton Rees Pogue Poetry and Arts Festival.
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FIRST PLACE:Janice Miller, 1st place winner of the adult competition, recites her final poem “Futuristic” to the audience at the Barton Rees Pogue Poetry and Arts Festival.

BY Paige Conley - pconley@chronicle-tribune.com

UPLAND — The Barton Rees Pogue Poetry and Arts Festival wrapped up Saturday morning with the poetry competition and awards ceremony.

The early morning schedule didn’t deter anyone as the room filled steadily with people throughout the competition. By the awards ceremony, the room was packed with poets, viewers and storm troopers.

“This was as good of a final event crowd as I’ve seen for a couple years,” said Wes Rediger, founder of the festival.

According to Rediger, he used to be Pogue’s paper boy when he was a kid. Pogue, at the time, was a Methodist Minister, professor at Taylor University, poet and much more. Rediger researched Pogue and his life only to be so inspired that he suggested they build a poetry festival in his honor.

Rediger mentioned how he used to deliver the Indianapolis paper to Pogue without even realizing that Pogue was in it. He got bigger than Indiana and one might say he grew to have a national influence, Rediger said. Pogue did all of this while still living in Upland.

“I thought we’ve got a favorite son here,” Rediger said.

While Rediger is impressed with Pogue’s “folksy and homey” writing style, what really influenced him was Pogue’s desire to inspire children in the community. After retirement, Pogue began directing the Upland library and tried to get children to read more, Rediger said.

“As big as he got he was still trying to help children in the neighborhood,” he said.

After his death, Upland honored Pogue by changing the library’s name to Barton Rees Pogue Memorial Library. As well, Pogue is honored through the festival that bears his name.

The theme for this year’s festival was “The Future is Yours” which participants incorporated into their poetry as they spoke about future inventions, technology and what they wanted to be when they grew up.

Janice Miller, Indiana Wesleyan adjunct professor, won the adult competition with her final poem, “Futuristic.” It’s about God working through history starting with Jacob and God’s promise to bring new land. Then, when the people rebelled he brought them back to the land.

“He brought them his Son the Messiah,” she said. “He promised them the future and then the future of heaven we were promised when we love God.”

As well, there were many elementary school children present to share their poems about the future. The winners from each grade are as follows: second grade – Calais Tiberi, third grade – Rosemary Peterson, fourth grade – Adrianna Cogan, and sixth grade – Chloe Redigo.

Festival Director LaRea Slater was really impressed with how the children cheered for one another as they won their awards. She believes the poetry competition will bring new opportunities for them in the future.

“It will open the door to writing the kinds of creativity as something they can be apart of,” she said.

Likewise, Rediger believes that all children need is to be encouraged and their creativity will flourish.

“I think anything we can do to encourage children in the literary arts is good because we encourage them to be readers and also writers,” he said. “Kids can come up with very unique statements, and they can write poetry if the environment they’re in encourages it.”

As well, the festival displayed art from students and adults in the community. One local artist, Jeff Glass, used the Matthews Covered Bridge as the focus for many of his paintings. However, he finds his inspiration in nature.

“Inspiration wise, I like just being out in the woods, you know, and finding something nice to paint,” he said.

Glass has been painting since he was 5 years old and he can’t imagine how dull the world would be without art.

“If there’s no creativity and magic in life, I mean, can you imagine how boring it would be,” he said.

The festival is a cultural and creative event, Slater said. She enjoys the creative outlet it gives adults and youth, but she does admit this year her favorite part was teaming with Mandalorian Mercs Costume Club.

“I would say the addition of the storm troopers,” she said. “Those costumes are out of this world.”