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Support Poetry, Art and Music Club Begins Sixth Season

October 2003 -- Rebecca Bastian stepped up to the microphone and began reading from her "Road Kill" series, riveting the audience. Her poems of the freshly dead animals along the roadside to works of art are not far-fetched. If an 18th-century oil painter can depict a country scene with flayed rabbits and limp turkeys with strokes of color, why can't she perform the same miracle -- complete with the buzz of the flies attracted to the rotting meat -- with her poetry?

Bastian is one of many area poets who attended S.P.A.M.'s meeting in October -- its first following a summer hiatus. Long-time-no-see members and friends attended the event, headquarted at Franco's Lounge in downtown Williamsport.

The small, close-knit poetry group, Support Poetry, Art and Music, is going strong thanks to sponsors Fred Daniele and his sister, Maria. The two have hosted S.P.A.M. since its beginning more than six years ago.

The group has always been fiercely independent, determined to remain true to its mission -- to support poets, writers, musicians, artists and artisans and provide a live venue and positive feedback.

For the past few years, Peg Cronin has been the group's emcee, stepping up to the microphone when founder Penny Austin left the area. Laura Kittle, another stalwart volunteer, helps Cronin collect the small cover charge at the door and musician Doug McMinn provides the sound system.

"We've been away for awhile," Cronin addressed the group at October's event. "What we need is for all of you to talk (S.P.A.M.) up. It's our sixth anniversary (Nov. 11), and we'd like to have a great turnout."

The group celebrated its sixth anniversary last year, also. A simple mistake, Cronin said, adding, "We had a little math problem because we're all poets." Cronin said she was encouraged by the turnout and has suggested the group organize a SLAM event, "with that wonderful can of SPAM as a trophy," she said.

Also, the English departments of area colleges have expressed an interest in participating in S.P.A.M.'s events, with Lycoming the featured college in November.

Another creative outlet for S.P.A.M. is the creation of an Internet site with streaming video and sound that would allow the community to watch a S.P.A.M. event in the comfort of their own home. The web site would feature photos of artwork, as well as audio and video files of live poetry readings and music. Interested persons may click here for a release form and submit their multimedia files to Robin Van Auken.