By Sam Elliott
Lawrence and Geist area poets can look forward to a collection of upcoming events catered to those who enjoy writing in nature at Fort Harrison State Park.
Lifelong writer and Lawrence resident Liza Hyatt was looking to get back in touch with the area’s writing community after her daughter reached high school.
“I felt disconnected from the writing community and just thought, ‘Well, I’ll just bring it to me,’” Hyatt said. “I connected with the Partnerships for Lawrence and then the initiative to start an arts center here on this side of town, so I thought, ‘Well they’ve got to have some poets here,’ and it all came together.”
Now at the Theater at the Fort, the Poets Laureate of Lawrence meet the fourth Tuesday of each month with an open mic night and typically a visit from an area poet — like Indiana Poet Laureate Shari Wagner.
“This is my first time reading here at the theater,” Wagner said before the group’s July 26 get-together. “As an ambassador for poetry, I do readings like this one, I’m doing a lot of readings at libraries and schools and also giving poetry writing workshops, some with kids and some with adults.”
Wagner’s website, Through the Sycamores, highlights various Indiana poets and poetry groups — including Hyatt’s Poets Laureate of Lawrence in the website’s latest feature.
“I’m especially trying as poet laureate to emphasize poetry’s connection to history and nature since it’s the bicentennial of the state and it’s the centennial of the state parks,” Wagner said. “I work a lot with history and nature in my poetry.”
Wagner and Hyatt are each hosting August events at Fort Harrison State Park, where area poets can read and write together and also prepare entries into the Fort Ben Writers Arts in the Park project.
“I’ve lived near Fort Ben now since 1992,” Hyatt said. “I don’t even think it was a park when I moved to Lawrence. I’ve written many poems out there, so when I learned about the Arts in the Parks, I went and put writing prompts out around the park and hopefully other people will email me their responses to the writing prompts.”
Upcoming area events
What: Poetry in the Park
When: 2 to 3:30 p.m.
Where: Camp Glen Building 701, across from the Visitors Center, at Fort Harrison State Park
More: Wagner and members of her poetry workshops will share poems inspired by the beauty or history of the park. The open mic session of the event is open to anyone, and live music inspired by the park as well as refreshments will be provided.
What: The Poets Laureate of Lawrence
When: 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Where: The Theater at the Fort, 8920 Otis Ave.; Fort Harrison State Park
More: The group will gather at the Theater at the Fort for its monthly meeting before carpooling to Fort Harrison State Park for the Fort Ben Writers Arts in the Park program. The group will write together and create work to submit to the Fort Ben Writer’s project.
What: Fort Ben Writers public reading
When: 2 to 4 p.m.
Where: Delaware Shelter at Fort Harrison State Park
More: All contributors to the Fort Ben Writers online literacy journal are invited to read their work at a public reading with friends and family and share experiences writing at Fort Ben with fellow members of the area writing community. Suggestions for continuing to engage in nature writing through the winter also will be discussed.