SIKESTON - Although writing is a business for some people, for others the passion is still in poetry. Ken "Fog" Gilbert catered to those individuals at this weekend's Heartland Writers Conference, offering a poetry workshop.
Gilbert, a resident of Carbondale, Ill., and a professor at John Hopkins University, focused on creating an interactive workshop in which each author was able to present his or her works and get feedback.
The method worked, said Judy Poe, who attended the workshop.
"It was very helpful to be with other poets and see how they use words to get their meaning across," said Poe.
Gilbert, author of nine books of poetry, has seen a heightened interest in poetry in recent years, not only during the conferences, but also in society as a whole.
"Poetry appeals to more people than ever today. In the '60s free verse was the main style, before that rhyme schemes dominated poetry," explained Gilbert. "But today, there is a more open field. People are writings sonnets, haikus and a wide variety of other styles."
Also contributing to poetry's growing popularity are coffee shops, which often hold regular poetry readings. "Poetry is finally being spoken," said Gilbert, "which is the way it was meant to be written."
Gilbert has recited poetry with a clarinet accompaniment for the past 11 years and has seen the audience grow bigger and more diverse.
Gilbert said there is one common misconception that is hindering poetry from gaining even more popularity.
"Many kids are scared of poetry. They are taught each poem is a riddle," said Gilbert. "This is not the case. Once a person writes a poem, the meaning belongs to the reader."
Although poetry is not popular with everybody, Gilbert says it is essential to literature. "Each poem is like a painting with words," Gilbert said. "Poetry brings something that no other type of literature can."
This is this reason that the Heartland Writers Conference is including a poetry workshop.
"Although many amateur writers come to learn the in and outs of publishing their prose works, a large number of these writers enjoy poetry and love the help they receive from Fog," said Judy Fischer, conference liaison.