On Centre: Around Bellefonte | Professor’s poetry efforts hope to draw Bellefonte audience

When Julia Kasdorf was hired as a Penn State professor, part of her job description included community outreach.

Years later, the professor of English and women’s studies is still taking that to heart.

Kasdorf organized a poetry recitation series at the Bellefonte Art Museum for Centre County called “Out Loud,” which will include six readings from groups of poets in various walks of life between April and November.

The first reading will be at 5:30 p.m. Thursday and feature poems from students from Bellefonte Area High School. The students in Jen Walter’s ninth-grade class have been studying poetry for the last month and writing poems about specific places in their community, student teacher Rebecca Rumbel said.

Though Bellefonte is not the artistic hub that it once was, Kasdorf said events such as the poetry series, the Bellefonte Historical and Cultural Association’s summer concert series in Talleyrand Park and exhibit openings at the museums help promote the arts.

“I just have the sense that that artist or performative spirit hasn’t gone away, but maybe it hasn’t been nurtured either,” she said.

The remaining schedule for the poetry readings include 7:30 p.m. May 16 featuring writers from the Bellefonte Poetry Collective; 7:30 p.m. June 20 featuring Penns Valley poets Abby Minor and Margie Gaffron; 7:30 p.m. Sept. 19 featuring Katherine Bode-Lang, who will be launching a book; 7:30 p.m. Oct. 17 featuring an opportunity for residents to come and tell five-minute true stories; and 7:30 p.m. Nov. 21 featuring Kasdorf’s poetry from fracking fields that will accompany a fracking exhibit at the museum.

Kasdorf is unsure what to expect for the attendance, but she hopes the series works to energize the town in terms of art and gets people engaged. She had been wanting to create more community events for awhile and now that she is taking a sabbatical from Penn State, she has the time.

Anyone wishing to get involved with the program can contact Kasdorf through Penn State’s English department.