By Joe Barkovich, Scribbler-at-large
WELLAND – A voice from the past re-enters my life Saturday.
It is that of Julie Mannell, who wears a variety of hats in this life. Poet is one of them.
I first heard Julie speak when she was getting started in high school. She shared experiences and memories from travels in India and Thailand as a member of Free the Children. This was 10, maybe 11 years ago.
Her concern for others even pre-dated that. When she was in Grade 5, Julie searched child labour and exploitation websites to learn more about these issues. When she was 11, she attended her first Free the Children conference. Nuggets like these came out in interviews with her for newspaper stories. And it was quickly evident Julie’s wisdom was far beyond her years.
I can’t connect all the dots in her life between then and now, there are far too many and besides I would be sure to miss many. But I knew fairly early on that this Julie Mannell is someone who is marked for greatness. I realized it years ago and still feel the same this day.
Julie, a Fonthill resident for part of her life, is in Welland Saturday to take part in the public library’s celebration of National Poetry Month from 2 to 4 p.m.
Guests include: Welland poet and activist Taylor Peebles, John B. Lee, poet laureate of Brantford and Norfolk County, Adam Dickinson, professor of poetry at Brock University and accomplished Toronto poet, Jade Wallace.
The library’s news release says attendees at the session will enjoy “dynamic and diverse readings” offered by the participants.
At 6 p.m., the Black Sheep Lounge on Niagara Street will play host to another session of readings and more. Full details are found on the library’s website.
The evening session isn’t part of my plans but the afternoon’s is. I am looking forward to readings by this diverse group of poets. And I’m thrilled about the opportunity to hear Julie Mannell once again. This is a voice from the past that is not to be missed.