NARROWSBURG, NY — There will be something for almost everyone at River Rocks Poetry Jamboree (PoJam, for short), the all-day event on May 18 in Narrowsburg that marks the 20th anniversary of the Upper Delaware Writers Collective (UDWC). From 1 to 10 p.m., seven individual events, all free of charge, will celebrate the art and craft of writing: a parade; a panel discussion; an afternoon wine and cheese reception; a book launch and signing; an open microphone session; a poetry reading followed by a Q&A session; and an evening reception with refreshments.
River Rocks PoJam kicks off at 1 p.m. with a parade of 22 student poetry contest winners (accompanied by drummers and stilt walkers, as well as families, friends and supporters) that starts at the Narrowsburg School. The parade will wend through Narrowsburg via Bridge and Main Streets and end at the Tusten Theater, where the awards ceremony for winners of the poetry writing and poster design contests will take place. (The poem that won first prize for Melissa McMonagle, a freshman at Eldred Central School, is appended to this article.)
A panel discussion featuring professional writers from several genres follows at the Delaware Arts Center (DAC), beginning at 3:30 p.m. Participants include Vera B. Williams, Kevin McDonough, Rilla Askew, Paul Austin and headliner Salita Bryant. A wine and cheese reception will be held afterward.
At 5 p.m. there will be a book launch for “River Rocks Anthology: the Best of 20 Years of the Upper Delaware Writers Collective.” UDWC members will read selections and sign books at the DAC. Afterward there will be a break in events, to permit all to enjoy a leisurely dinner.
Festivities resume at 7:30 p.m. with a half-hour open-microphone session followed by readings from the poet of honor, Bryant. Bryant, a poet and scholar, earned a Ph.D. in Literature, an M.Ed. in Clinical Counseling, and a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree in poetry. Winner of multiple prizes and awards, including Spoon River Poetry Review Editors’ Prize and Boulevard’s Emerging Poet’s Award, Bryant is assistant professor of English at Lehman College in the Bronx, NY and author of “Addie Bundren is Dead,” a book of poetry based on William Faulkner’s novel, “As I Lay Dying.” Bryant will answer questions from the audience after her reading, and the day’s events will draw to a close with a reception catered by Natural Contents Kitchen.
Begun in 1983 as an informal group of writer friends, the UDWC has since grown to 24 members. Founding member Mary Greene describes her organization: “Our mission is to advance the literary arts in the Upper Delaware Valley region. At heart, we are a poetry workshop group with a focus on craft, meeting monthly to discuss our poems and generate new writing.”