TURNERS FALLS – Speech traveled through the clouds to resonate in Unity Park during Sunday’s Great Falls Word Festival.
Hosted by Human Error Publishing, the annual festival brought together dozens of poetry and literature lovers to enjoy open mic style readings. People were encouraged to get up from their lawn chairs to line up at the microphone. The arrangement of five chairs for those awaiting their turn was still fully occupied, testifying to the region’s rich investment in writing.
As the fallen leaves strolled through the park on a slightly brisk afternoon, Greenfield-based poet and author Amy Laprade said the vibe made it a good day for the festival to take place after the induced hiatus. by COVID-19 in 2020.
“It’s a way to enjoy both roads: the beauty of October and this time of year with words,” she said.
Paul Richmond, owner and operator of Human Error Publishing, was pleased with the attendance at the event.
“There is a community of writers here in the valley,” said Richmond. “People encourage each other. … You want to find this tribe and these people who support each other.
The writers’ concern for their profession – and for each other – was palpable. For some, sharing their work was a way of catharsis, as well as a revelation of deep thoughts.
“It took 33 years to write and I have never read it,” prefaced Robert Eugene Perry, a poet from Dudley, before his recitation.
Perry said what makes the writing community special is the number of different perspectives that come together under a common interest.
“What’s wonderful about these is the diversity of voices,” said Perry, who attends reading events “as often as he can,” said. “These are really different points of view; different ways of seeing the world.
A reader’s writing involved his or her take on the fight against cancer.
“I am not cancer,” he said. “It doesn’t define me, even though it does affect me.”
For Laprade, such perspectives are important at a time when the world feels divided and people need something to relate to emotionally.
“Cancer doesn’t care about politics… cancer happens to a lot of people,” she said. “This kind of play can bring everyone together.”
Laprade also said, however, that the value of sharing the writing may simply come from the way it entertains.
“Sometimes it’s good to write an entertaining story where it’s just a good outing,” she said. “I think people need a good little distraction right now.”
Regardless of what attendees took away from the event, festival writers said exposing locals to the writing community is mutually beneficial. As the spectators took ownership of the day, the participants built their prestige.
“It’s one way to make the community more visible,” said Laprade. “It helps us to come out of ourselves.
“It really broadens your horizons,” Perry said.
Contact Julian Mendoza at 413-772-0261, ext. 261 or [email protected]