Distillery heiress Mary Jane Hayner built her impressive three-story, 10-room Troy home in 1914, and upon her death in 1942 left the building to her community in the care of Troy City schools; the will stipulated that the bequest should be used as a library or museum, or for other cultural or educational purposes. After serving as Troy Public Library for 33 years, the historic landmark became the home of a community cultural center funded primarily by a local tax levy. Troy-Hayner Cultural Center opened in 1976, and has been offering inviting art exhibits and excellent performing arts programs for free ever since.
On Saturday, April 6, Troy-Hayner will host “Poetry At Hayner,” an exciting new event which will feature 12 published poets in “A Mosaic of Voices,” each reading their own work for five minutes followed by an open mic hour, offering anyone brave enough to share from their personal writing the opportunity to present their thoughts in public. “A Mosaic of Voices” has a Darke County connection; the committee planning this celebration of meaningful words includes three members of our own Greenville Poets, an award-winning group of writers who meet monthly in the home of local poet Myrna Stone, one of the founding members of the group. Committee members Cathy Essinger and Aimee Noel are also “Greenville Poets” although they reside outside the community.
These committee members will not be among the presenting poets, however; that honor has been bestowed upon an impressive list of diverse writers including former University of Dayton Professor of English and Poet-In-Residence Herbert Woodward Martin, well-known for his dramatic and moving performances channeling the persona of renowned Dayton native Paul Laurence Dunbar. Described as a quiet, yet forceful poet, Professor Martin says that he “hears the voices of my characters, hears the voices of my neighborhood,” so that he can “write authentically in my own voice.”
Other participants include John Booth, a performance poet, multi-instrumentalist and recording artist who is a four-time member of the Dayton National Poetry Slam team; his straightforward style of writing and performing what he calls “this thing that everyone else calls poetry” has earned him the nickname “Assassin with Words.” David Lee Garrison, 2014 Ohio Poet of the Year, says that his main goal is to communicate, so he creates poems that are not hard to understand, often based on bits and pieces of his own life fashioned into configurations that transcend his personal experience.
Pauletta Hansel was Cincinnati’s very first Poet Laureate, and is an artist in residence at Thomas More University; originally from southeastern Kentucky, Pauletta earned the 2017 Weatherford Award for Best Appalachian Poetry Book. Columbus native Chuck Salmons, currently President of the Ohio Poetry Association and recipient of the 2018 Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award, credits his work in construction, education, and retail as well as his love of science as major influences in his poems.
The youngest of the featured poetry presenters, Shannon Saylors, is a senior at Tippecanoe High School whose pieces have been published in “Inferno,” an award-winning literary magazine of student submissions; she uses her writing as a platform for the social change she’d like to see in the world, as well as a space for her own personal reflection. Other poets included in “Mosaic of Voices” are Grace Curtis, T.J. McGuire, Jonie McIntire, Elizabeth Cantonwine Schmidt, and Kerry Trautman.
And remember, you could read your poems in the second half of this event which follows an hors d’oeuvres and wine reception at intermission; those wishing to participate in the open mic hour should sign up for one of the limited slots beginning at 6:30 p.m. “Poetry At the Hayner” begins at 7:30 p.m. Additionally, Ohio Watercolor Society’s 41st annual exhibition currently on display at Hayner is definitely worthy of a look/see. You’ll be amazed at how much fun you can have immersing yourself in an enticing encounter with the arts; it won’t cost you a thing, but you’ll undoubtedly profit from your time spent enjoying Mrs. Hayner’s remarkable legacy.
Marilyn Delk is the former executive director of the Darke County Center for the Arts and can be reached at email@example.com. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.