Poetry reading to benefit animal shelter

Published 2:55 pm Tuesday, March 20, 2007

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be a soldier at war or the loved one of a soldier at war, you will have an excellent opportunity Thursday, March 22.

At 7 that evening, Natchez writer Mark LaFrancis will present his moving and enlightening program, “In Their Boots: Poems Inspired by Soldiers and Their Loved Ones.”

Mark will offer a unique program which reveals insights into the hearts and minds of soldiers and their loved ones in a way that so far no one else has done.

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And, the program will have an extra special benefit. All proceeds from ticket sales will go to the Natchez-Adams County Humane Society.

The presentation will be at the Natchez Coffee Co., 509 Franklin St. Tickets are $10 and may be purchased at the Coffee Co. store. I also have tickets and can be reached at 601-442-3766. Only 50 tickets are available for this program.

Mark has created a multi-media program: a PowerPoint presentation with music, graphics and photos, some from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Over the past year, Mark has interviewed more than a dozen soldiers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and their loved ones, rendering their moving, penetrating, funny and enlightening stories and comments into poetry. He recently was recognized by the Mississippi Humanities Council for his work.

Humanities Council evaluator Lillie Lovett said Mark’s program was one of the most moving and powerful she has ever seen. He first presented the program Nov. 8 at Copiah-Lincoln Community College, where he works at director of public information.

So far, Mark has written more than 175 poems; the PowerPoint will include some of the best in the collection.

An added treat will be to hear the poems read as the audience sees the poems. In addition to Mark’s readings, there will be two guest readers to enhance the program. They are Judy Daniels Wiggins, English instructor at Co-Lin, and Bishop James E. Calhoun, veteran and chaplain to the Natchez Police Department and the Adams County Sheriff’s Office. Their voices are exquisite.

Be advised that the poems are stirring and emotionally penetrating, especially presented in the dramatic-reading format. You will be moved.

However, I can assure you that you will be so glad you attended. Not only will you gain insight into our men and women in uniform, but those who love them. And you’ll help the Humane Society as well.

Linda Harper is president of the Board of Directors of the Natchez-Adams County Humane Society.