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Fourth annual Wellspring Literary Series kicks off with Poet Fleda Brown

Music professor Joanna White reads a poem Monday night during the fourth annual Wellspring Literary Series at Art Reach, 111 E. Broadway St.

Award-winning poet Fleda Brown kicked off the fourth-annual Wellspring Literary Series Monday night.

Students, faculty and poetry fans gathered downtown at Art Reach, 111 E. Broadway St., to enjoy free poetry, music, art and food catered by Max and Emily’s, 125 E. Broadway.

Beginning the night, English Language and Literature Professor Robert Fanning greeted the packed audience and introduced local singer and songwriter, Joe Hertler, who has opened the series each year.

The Lake Orion senior started the event singing and playing his guitar for the audience.

Music professor Joanna White then took the stage reading poetry of her own. Of the five poems she read, three were from her new collection, in addition to two earlier works, “Teach Your Children Well” and “My Daughter In Monet’s Garden.”

Hertler played another musical piece before featured poet Fleda Brown took center stage sharing 11 poems, including some from her upcoming collection, “No Need of Sympathy.”

From “Buying the King-Size Bed,” to “Airplane Security” and “The Kayak and the Eiffel Tower,” Brown showed her poetry range while performing from an array of her six poetry collections.

Brown, who’s been awarded numerous prizes and awards for her poetry, including the Felix Pollak Prize and a Pushcart Prize, wrapped up her poetry reading with a fun poem about poetry itself, titled “Talk Radio.” The poem was based on her experience speaking about poetry on a conservative talk radio show where she was asked, "Why do you write poetry if no one reads it?"

Attending her first Wellspring reading, Port Huron junior Anne Russ said the event turned out to be even more than she expected.

“I thought they did very well,” she said. “I was glad I came out.”

However, aside from the poetry, her favorite part of the night was Hertler’s acoustic performances, Russ said.

“I’m definitely going to buy his music,” she said.

Monday's poetry reading is one of six in this school year's series. The next event will be held Nov. 11 featuring Anna-Marie Oomen.