WAYNESBURG – Even though last Friday night brought showers, it did not stop the Line Assembly and its crowd from having a good time drinking wine, catching up and reading poetry.
Line Assembly is a group of emerging poets that tour small towns and read their own poetry, while conducting workshops and keeping poetry alive. The group came to Waynesburg and gave a free performance.
The event was to take place on the sidewalks of High Street where any passerby could hear the rhythmic words of the poets, but because of rain, it was moved inside the Artbeat Gallery.
Owners of Artbeat Gallery, Jim and Linda Winegar, fashioned their shop with dim lighting to fit the mood of the poetry readings. Lawn chairs were lined up in rows and were quickly filled by the attendees who were excited to see one of Greene County’s own return and do what she loves.
Sarah Smith, a West Greene High School graduate and one of the six members of Line Assembly, came back this past weekend and opened her childhood home to the rest of her tour mates, Ben Pelhan, Adam Atkinson, Anna Marie Rooney, Zach Harris and Lillian-Yvonne Bertram.
Atkinson said they could not thank Sarah’s parents enough for allowing them to come into their home this past weekend to recuperate and get the rest they needed.
Unfortunately, Bertram fell ill and was not able to attend the reading.
However, the rest of the group was excited to get things under way.
“I admire that they are willing to do things like this,” said Karen Lyons, who attended the poetry reading. “It’s good to see kids come back happy and do something they enjoy.”
The night began with Aykinson doing a routine mic check that quickly turned into a musical performance as he sang a song he and his college roommate choreographed about wine and whiskey.
He declared that this was not part of the Line Assembly performance, but just something special for Greene County.
Jim Winegar introduced the group stating, “They always say a picture is worth a thousand words, but these people’s words are worth a thousand anything.”
Aykinson was the first to read.
He explained how the group wrote poems that explained everyday life and normal occurrences.
For Aykinson’s first reading, he called up two volunteers from the audience who were each given a [piece of paper, one reading “APPLAUSE” and the other “LAUGHTER.” Aykinson instructed the volunteers to raise their piece of paper when they felt it necessary during his reading and instructed the audience to react as the papers described.
Aykinson began his reading and quickly the audience and the volunteers reacted, applauding and laughing during parts of the reading that made no sense to react in such ways. It got the audience involved and attentive for the many readings that would follow.
The second reader was Ben Pelhan, who Aykinson introduced as the man who started Line Assembly.
Pelhan got straight to the point, “I’m going to read poems for you tonight, and uh I am just going to start.”
Like his beginning statement, his poems were deliberate.
In his poem, “Afternoon,” Pelhan paints a picture of events that take place in afternoons, describing singular events such as painting a picture, finding a lizard or having sex and combining them with the rhythm of his voice to create a more meaningful and deeper outlook of the normal events.
The third reader, Anna Marie Rooney, read from her own book titled, “Spit Shine,” which contained many of her sonnets.
Rooney explained she loves to write in sonnets because she likes there are set rules that she was to contort and push to the edge to see how far she can go.
Rooney read some of her new work including three entries titled ‘Open Road’ ‘Open Word’ and ‘Open Door,’ and the audience seemed to really enjoy them.
The next reader, Zach Harris, began by reading one of Lillian-Yvonne Bertram’s poems since she could not attend.
Like the group’s other members, Harris said he writes poems of experiences from his own life. Many of Harris’ works exemplified the many trials not only he, but most people, go through, such as the haunting question of what will I be when I grow up, or taking one’s driving test for the first time.
Smith was the last to performed her readings.
She began with some of her oldest work, taking her back to her high school days as she read one of her love poems titled “Jammies.”
“It was just like a bad movie, and I knew you didn’t want me to fall,” she read.
She continued with her poems that let the audience see a part of her, as she put a lot of herself into every piece she read.
She was happy to have one of her poems requested by a member of the audience called, “Big Slutty Bear,” which she was proud to say made a woman at a past reading furious as to its subject.
As the night came to its close, Smith took the time to thank her parents for all their support. She also thanked her tour mates.
“Oh they are such a treat, and I say that even after being in the car with them for five hours,” said Smith.