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Words from Wiser: A poem for Joanne Allen

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From Chuck Wiser, 10/21/21, ““I write the words to share what my eyes see and my heart feels”

I’m a little challenged in the typing department today so likely, to your relief, I will keep this brief. I felt this message deserved to be shared and so put together some of the words in a fashion best suited to me.

Wellsville and all of Allegany County lost a valuable contributor and advocate of the arts with the passing of Joanne Allen in May of 2020. I am writing this now as I passed word on to a sister that I would assume they will be holding a remembrance here shortly.

I met Joanne a few years ago having participated in a Poetry Contest that she had been organizing each April in celebration of National Poetry Month. I read a few poems and, likely because I was a newcomer to the group was lucky enough to place 2nd to one of the perennial favorites. I was amazed at the quality of the poets, and their work. Many of them are likely well known to most of the readers of this.

I didn’t fare so well in subsequent years and, although somewhat surprised and disappointed, finally understood why, and fully accepted it, after Joanne called me aside and explained the voting and selection procedure. She professed to liking my work, and actually voted for me, so

It seems that the way voting was set up assisted somewhat in the participation of family and friends, and also a little helped with fund raising to be able to support their ability to award prizes. Each person attending and paying the very nominal entry fee was awarded a vote. The more family and friends that were there supporting you, and thus your work and the arts, the more votes you were likely to garner. I have to admit that I didn’t help myself as much as I could have, as I voted for others than myself, where I felt that it was justified. There were some pretty talented participants, so I rewarded their efforts.

My first year of participation when I placed second, I had presented a poem, “Look Beyond Tomorrow”, that I had written for a friend who was contemplating changing jobs, moving out of state, and needed a little encouragement. I donated my winnings in the honor of his father, a long time Jones Memorial Hospital volunteer who had recently passed away. That poem by the way was turned into the lyric of a song written by Dave Dunbar, and which became a pretty popular high school “graduation” performance number, which was published by Shawnee Press.

I leave you with my poetic words in honor of Joanne Allen, a true patron of the arts, who will reside in the hearts of many, for her love and promotion of the arts.

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