10 Years of Poetry and Art at the Wickford Art Association

The 10th Annual Poetry and Art begins September 30th with Poetry readings Saturday 10/1 and Sunday 10/2 between 1-3 PM.

Today I am sharing a bit about a gallery and community which has become such a part of my creative growth and expression that I had to bring it to the blog and hash it out for you in a clear and concise manner (um…hopefully).

Grab a cup of something delightful, and get comfy, I am going to tell you a true story about how I came to know about the Wickford Art Association and my journey of growth as a poet and local arts appreciator. Go on, I’ll wait while you grab that beverage…

“The mind is not a vessel that needs filling, but wood that needs igniting.”


I first heard about the annual Poetry and Art event sponsored and hosted by the Wickford Art Association through my local writing group, the Neighborhood Guild Creative Writers in 2015. Shortly after hearing of this exhibit which featured local creatives, I was sitting in a favorite spot in Wickford, at that time called The Beach Rose Cafe (Now Wickford on the Water), when my eyes laid on a book displayed on the counter. It was the 2013 Poetry and Art -an exhibition of contemporary poetry and responsive art book. It seemed that I was experiencing a bit of Baader–Meinhof phenomenon, that thing that happens when you learn or notice something new and it starts to pop up everywhere. I actually call that the Punch-Buggy syndrome, but “different strokes for different folks”, right? I grabbed the book (yes, I asked if I could first) and headed to my table with coffee in hand. I sat for the next hour or so pouring over the images and words of this collection feeling something stirring within. Certainly, I was inspired, and drawn to the creativity and care that went into this treasure of local artists in my hands. But something else stirred…that calling that you know is yours alone. Maybe I could do this? I’m confident the only thing that keeps more people from throwing in their hats to creative endeavors is the voice within that shrugs off that stirring, or is waiting to get a little better first. I refuse to shrug off that voice, that stirring- or wait to get it all just right, or for the ever elusive “perfect”. Could I do it? Could you? Who knows? Sometimes we don’t know. But one could try. And as one of the prolific and wise writers in my group always stated, “Why not?”

The Poetry and Art Event is an exhibit that features the work of 40 artists matched with 40 poets.

So you want to be a poet…

You know poetry is a funny thing. People tend to love it or be repulsed by it. I have rarely found people who have no opinion. And no offense here, but as one who had a rather tumultuous academic life in youth, I am not sure Shakespeare helped. I mean for some of us. Ahem. Back to the case in point. I think poetry has potential for all people to discover new ways of expression and freedom, the way art does. There are many forms, and pretty much, depending on how daring you are, you could, in theory, create your own new form. Of course it’s good to know a little about poetry before you go all out Allen Ginsberg.

All this to say, there are many surprising and diverse ways to experience poetry, from poetry slams to meditative style readings. Poetry can be inviting and invigorating, powerful and soothing. Poetry can confront, combat or complicate…words are the seeds of unseen things made clear. There are people who enjoy writing it, or reading it aloud and I’ve learned there are those who truly appreciate just reading or listening to it, but who don’t write. Some appreciate poetry without even realizing it as it comes in many subtle forms and is found in a variety of unlikely places. Like art, it’s everywhere, and surprisingly abundant if you just pay attention!

So, did I go ahead and throw my hat into the call for poets once I learned about this interesting event which invited poets and artists into a mutual collaborative effort? I did. And to my initial disappointment but not complete surprise, the pieces I submitted that year (2015) were not accepted. Fast forward two years and one more rejection for submissions in 2016, and I wondered why I couldn’t crack the code. I wondered what I lacked, and wanted to grow in this genre of writing. I wondered if I was even a real poet? Probably not, but a lot of people started calling me one, so I figured I better lean in, learn and grow into the name!

Two things happened at this point that allowed me the growth opportunity I strongly desired. I found out about a poetry class starting at the library and jumped in. Eventually as this group disbanded a wonderful thing happened which brought me into a group of poets that would be meeting at the, wait for it…Wickford Art Association. It’s like the punch buggy thing, I couldn’t avoid this place, apparently!

Ekphrastic Poetry- An ekphrastic poem is a vivid description of a scene or, more commonly, a work of art. Through the imaginative act of narrating and reflecting on the “action” of a painting or sculpture, the poet may amplify and expand its meaning.

Poetry Foundation


I asked the group leader at the time if she would offer some feedback to help me improve my skill before my next submissions to the WAA event. Pat LaRose, a longtime poet herself generously agreed to do so for my works in progress. What happened over the next few months was absolutely transformational for me, as I received specific feedback on my writing, mostly in the form of questions, and began to see what I couldn’t see before in my work. I am so grateful for the gift of time offered by this fellow writer-who graciously and patiently indulged my many email’s. The poems I submitted that year, left me feeling satisfied with a new confidence. And that was the first year my poems granted me access to this prestigious event. Oh, but that was not the end of the road for Pat and I. Each year there is a swap with which group responds, and for 2017 the poets would be the responding group. This meant that acceptance was only half the battle. I’d have to wait to see the piece of art from an artist with whom I would be matched before I could respond by producing a new poem. Let’s just say, that continued to be a challenging, and growing experience as well! Thanks to Pat’s valuable input into my poetic life, I was able to craft a poem that I believe exhibited some of my best work to date.

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”  

Benjamin Franklin

Over the next few years following my “cracking the code” experience in 2017 I happily attended and cheered on fellow writers at the event and continued to work on writerly goals. My life was busy with many opportunities, circumstances and events which stretched me in various other roles and realms-some planned, some not planned.

I decided to become a member of the WAA in 2021, because I love the gallery, and the mission: “… to educate, encourage and inspire its membership, the local arts community and the general public and to promote fine arts in the community.” Also for the discount on classes! Mostly, I love the Poetry and Art Event, but I also have taken a class (on photography) and try to get to the exhibits regularly. I usually take my journal and peruse the works of art and jot down thoughts as they come and notes about favorite pieces, works and artists.

Fun Side Note: Identities of the poets and artists are kept secret until the meet and greet night just prior to the opening of the exhibit.

This year is the 10th Annual Poetry and Art Event, as well as the 60th Anniversary of the Wickford Art Association. I attended my first business meeting to learn more about the history and workings behind the scenes, and enjoyed meeting some of the members on that evening. One lovely artist I met has been a member for 40 years! Amazing, right?

I am thrilled to say, I will be reading my poem for this upcoming event on Saturday, October 1st , between 1-3 PM. This year I had the easier job, as the artists had to respond to the poet’s work. Phew. The theme for this year’s event is Hope. I can’t wait to meet the artist and see their interpretation of my poem. If you are curious, you will have to go and see for yourself! The exhibit opens to the public September 30th, and will be on display until October 23rd.

I encourage you to come see!

I want to give a special thanks to the many local (and some not so local) writers and poets who have helped me find and fine tune my voice, who have listened and read my words, and offered up encouragement along the way-you know who you are! THANK YOU!

“You cannot teach a man anything. You can only help him discover it within himself.”

– Galileo Galilei

In conclusion, I hope I have given an accurate peek into this awesome event and exhibit. If you have any questions, just leave me a comment below, and I will be sure and reply.

Enthusiastically, Dawn

Published by enthusiasticallydawn

Dawn Paoletta is the author of Journaling for Discovery and Delight. Her writing is included in several anthologies and her poems have been included in the Wickford Poetry and Art Exhibit and Books. Dawn is currently working on her next book. Inquiries at dawn.paoletta@gmail.com

2 thoughts on “10 Years of Poetry and Art at the Wickford Art Association

  1. What a fun post Dawn about how your eyes were drawn to the counter book which widened your desire for poetry and art and the opportunities to grow and share your poetry. I’m thankful for having read your poetry. It’s truly written from deeply within and I can feel it deeply myself. Thankful for you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Christine, I could write another whole post about our wonderful adventure with the Artists’ Cooperative Gallery of Westerly Event and all that I learned from that event …possibly a series! lol Hugs!


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