Poet Rita Dove brings ‘another way of singing’ to BGSU

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Rita Dove, a Pulitzer Prize winner and former Poet Laureate, almost stopped writing poetry. Her home had been struck by lightning and was destroyed, she told her audience at Bowling Green State University Thursday night.  Rebuilding so consumed her that when someone asked what was next for her as a poet, she questioned whether she’d ever write again. “I’m done. I just need to get my life in order.” That was in 1998. She’d already served as the youngest and first black Poet Laureate of the United States and won the Pulitzer Prize for “Thomas and Beulah,” a collection of poems inspired by her grandparents.  Then a neighbor asked Dove and her husband, Fred Viebahn, to go out to a local dinner dance as a way of cheering them up. They were fascinated by the dancing, and wanted to join. They ended up taking ballroom dancing lessons, and now do it competitively. The dancing inspired poems. In “Foxtrot Fridays,” she writes, of how dancing keeps problems at bay with: “Just the sweep of Paradise  / and the space of a song  / to count all the wonders in it.” Dove was on campus as the keynote speaker for the Edwin H. Simmons Creative Minds Series. During the day she spent time meeting and conversing with students. At 11 a.m. she was seated on the stage of the Donnell Theatre surrounded by creative writing students. This was an “inhuman” hour for her, Dove said. She usually writes from midnight to 6 a.m. Does she write every day? That was the first question posed. Dove said while she doesn’t necessarily sit down at her desk and write daily, she’s always “writing,” adding “I alway have that attitude.” Even while traveling she has with her “a notebook or three or nine” and her phone is handy to take notes. The poet did advise the two dozen or so students that they should write every day.  This practice is akin to athletes training or musicians doing their scales. “When inspiration strikes, you’re ready.” The disadvantage, she said, is “you write a lot of junk.” But there’s a lesson in that as well. “It inures you to having to be perfect the first time.” Dove spoke of how her own poems take shape. She…

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Shared salute sought at new BG City Park building

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   No battle lines were drawn, but there are some strong feelings about veterans retaining top billing in the new structure replacing City Park’s Veterans Memorial Building. City Council member Greg Robinette – a veteran himself – reported to council Monday evening that he had spoken with Dave Ridenour of American Legion Post 45 about the history of the existing building. The local legion had leased the building from the city for its post headquarters from 1929 to 1979, Ridenour said. Even after the headquarters moved, the city decided to continue honoring local veterans by keeping the name Veterans Memorial Building. While city officials would like to continue that tradition, they would also like to reduce the debt on the new building by looking for private sponsorship of the new structure. “I fully understand,” that desire to look for naming rights, Robinette said. The building name could be a compromise between a major donor and local veterans. “I think we can make that work.” But council member Bruce Jeffers expressed some concern that the respect for local veterans not be clouded by recognition of a private donor. He also talked about the value of a veterans display inside the new building. “It seems we might want to distinguish between those who have served in combat zones,” Jeffers said. Council member Sandy Rowland said she supports the continued recognition of local veterans in the name of the building. However, she mentioned the effort the city is making to get a return on its investment of $3.75 million in bonds for the new building. The building is expected to be used by community members for events such as weddings, memorials and other public gatherings. “I think we have to be careful in the way we outfit the interior,” Rowland said. For example, a display of weapons of war may make the building less appealing to those wanting to rent it for occasions like weddings. “I hope we don’t plan on putting a cannon in there,” Rowland said. Also at Monday’s meeting, Mayor Dick Edwards recognized Earlene Kilpatrick, who is retiring from her position as executive director of the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce. “You’ve had a wonderful working relationship with the city,” Edwards said to Kilpatrick. During her years as…


What’s happening in your community (updated Sept. 20)

NEWLY POSTED: Farmers market devoted to Apple Harvest Day, Sept. 26 With only three outdoor markets remaining, Downtown Bowling Green has decided to host an Apple Harvest Day at the Downtown BG Market, Sept. 26, from 4-7 p.m. with all vendors and attendees able to splurge in all things apple. The Wayne United Methodist Church will be holding its annual Apple Dumpling fundraiser as well as the Boy Scouts BG Pack #485 will be at market selling popcorn tins. The Wood County Historical Center & Museum will present, marketing their upcoming events, “Friday Night Folklore Trick or Treat” and “War of Worlds.”   NEWLY POSTED: Tree No Leaves plays LP release show, Sept. 22 Tree No Leaves will perform a album release show for “Prophet Holographic” Saturday, Sept. 22, at 8 p.m. at Grounds for Thought, 174 S. Main St. in downtown Bowling Green. “Prophet Holographie” is a vinyl 12-inch released by Grounds for Thought Records. The concert will feature an analog liquid light show by Synesthetic Oil Spill.   NEWLY POSTED: Airplane-themed story time for tots, Sept. 22The Children’s Place of the Wood County District Public Library is offering a special storytime for babies and toddlers with caregivers on Saturday, September 22 at 10:30 a.m. Our airplane-themed storytime will feature tips from the early literacy initiative Every Child Ready to Read @ Your Library.  This early literacy initiative encourages parents and caregivers to talk, sing, read, write, and play with young children every day. Children’s Place staff will share stories about airplanes, songs, conversation, and play. For more information, contact the Children’s Place staff at 419-352-8253. NEWLY POSTED: Library hosts Legopalooza, Sept. 23 The monthly Legopalooza program at the Children’s Place of the Wood County District Public Library will be held on Sunday, September 23, from 2-3 p.m. The library staff will share their Lego collection along with stories and books for creative ideas, as well as a group building challenge. For more information, contact the Children’s Place at 419-352-8253.  NEWLY POSTED: Help Me Grow playdate set for Sept. 24 Parents and caregivers with young children are invited to the September Help Me Grow playdate at the Children’s Place of the Wood County District Public Library on Monday, September 24 from 10-11:30 a.m. This session, open to everyone, offers stories, playtime and community support resources. For more information, contact…


BG still waiting to meet with Columbia Gas about leak

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Bowling Green city leaders are still waiting for a meeting with Columbia Gas officials about explosive levels of gas leaked into the downtown Thursday evening leading to the evacuation of several businesses and apartments. City officials have concerns since the fire division was not notified until hours after the leak was noticed. By time firefighters arrived on the scene, the gas levels were at “lower explosive limits.” Gas employees working in downtown Bowling Green held a “safety shutdown” meeting today for the crews working in the downtown to discuss Thursday’s leak. Cheri Pastula, communications and community relations manager for Columbia Gas, said the gas crews followed proper procedures. The fire division was notified when the gas company knew the electricity needed to be shut off, she said. The fire division removed the electric meter from the buildings involved. “We have gas professionals that are experienced in emergency response and will notify first responders when necessary,” Pastula said. “All of our policies and procedures were followed appropriately and most importantly, safely.” However, city officials have not yet had a chance to express their concerns. Bowling Green Fire Division was not notified about the gas leak until at least two hours after gas odors were strong enough that some businesses shut down on the west side of the 100 block of South Main Street. Those businesses included Grounds for Thought, Lahey Appliance and Coyote Beads. When the fire division arrived downtown, the smell of natural gas was obvious. Atmospheric tests done by firefighters showed explosive levels of gas. “The gas levels were at a dangerous level,” Fire Chief Bill Moorman said. “It was getting to the point that a spark, anything can really set it off. Pretty much anything ignites natural gas.” The Bowling Green Police Division joined the fire division in evacuating the businesses and residents in the general area of the leak in the 100 block of South Main Street. The street was also closed to traffic to limit the risks. The fire division ventilated the affected buildings and stayed on the scene until about 11:20 p.m. “It was a dangerous situation. It was handled well by police and fire,” Moorman said. However, city officials do have some concerns about how the leak was handled by Columbia Gas….


Dietz finds a place among the masters on Toledo Symphony program

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News When Alain Trudel debuts as conductor of the Toledo Symphony Orchestra, Sept. 21 and 22, (http://bgindependentmedia.org/toledo-symphony-welcomes-trudel-as-music-director-kicks-off-75th-anniversary-season/) he’ll call on some heavy hitters in classical music to help with the introductions. The concerts will open with Beethoven’s iconic Fifth Symphony and its majestic four-note clarion call. The second half will be devoted to the music from Tchaikovsky’s ballet “Swan Lake” with dancers from the Toledo Ballet.  And then tucked in between Beethoven and the intermission will be “Caldera” by Christopher Dietz, a professor of composition at Bowling Green State University. Dietz said he’s delighted to be on the program. “It’s a little weird seeing my name in the middle between those two,” he said. While his fellow composers on the program are represented by mature work, “Caldera” was actually Dietz’ first successful orchestral piece. He composed it in 2004 while he was studying for his doctorate at the University of Michigan. The title means a large volcanic crater, but that came well after the piece was composed Dietz said. “I just wanted to write 11 to 12 minutes of robust, energetic, intense orchestral music.” This was not his first try. “The first one was so big and grotesque and impossible to play,” he said. The second was a chamber symphony that “lacked chutzpah.” “Caldera” hit the Goldilocks spot. The piece has a churning, forward momentum full of sparkling instrumental touches. Every instrument in the orchestra gets a chance to shine. Dietz said in this instance he “had a better sense of what an orchestra can do given the rehearsal time they have.” This is the second time the orchestra will perform “Caldera.” Back in 2007, then Resident Conductor Chelsea Tipton put the piece on a Classics Concert he was leading. Dietz knew Tipton through his wife, Emily Price Dietz, who has played French horn in the orchestra since 2000. Dietz said he showed the piece to the conductor and was surprised he programmed it. “Caldera” resurfaced during conversations between Dietz and the orchestra’s CEO Zak Vassar at the Toledo Symphony Student Composer Reading Sessions. Dietz initiated that program when he came to BGSU in 2010.  Vassar was interested in having a new orchestral work from the composer, and that was arranged, and will be performed next season by the symphony….


‘Ag-Venture’ farm tours harvest knowledge for visitors

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Farming is more than a profession for Fred Vetter. “The dirt you’re standing on – my grandpa bought in 1912,” Vetter said as he looked over his Mercer Road farm north of Bowling Green on Saturday afternoon. Vetter’s farm was one of seven stops on the Wood County “Ag-Venture” self-driving farm tours on Saturday. Like others on the tour route, Vetter wanted local residents to see farms as more than just some fields along country roads. “Everybody drives down the road and they see us,” he said. But most Wood County residents know little of what it takes to farm the land. “We need to educate people,” Vetter said. “That we’re trying to be good stewards.” The “ag-venture” tours took visitors to traditional farms, like the Vetters, Moser Farms on Hull Prairie Road, and Black Swamp Ag on Portage Road. It also led visitors to more unconventional farms like Schooner Farms on Otsego Pike, and to agri-businesses like Pioneer Seed, Luckey Farmers and Hirzel Canning. This was the first time for a county-wide tour to be organized, said Julie Lause, of the Wood Soil & Water Conservation District, which was one of the sponsors. “Agriculture in Wood County is the top business and people don’t realize how extensive agriculture can be,” she said. “They don’t realize what it takes to create the products we eat.” For soybean, wheat and corn farming it takes equipment that can costs more than many homes. Vetter’s 2003 combine cost about $140,000. Nowadays, with all the tech gadgets, a combine can cost as much as $500,000. It’s standard for equipment to have self-steering GPS, and tires taller than many of those visiting the farms. Fields have to have drainage – especially on this land that was once swamp. And drones help identify problem areas of disease or pests before they spread too far. “It takes a lot of money to farm,” said Vetter, whose sons Shane and Garett, have joined him in agriculture. Even when the best seed is purchased, planted on time, and fertilized – the outcome is still in the hands of Mother Nature. Long periods of rainy or dry weather, at the wrong times, can greatly impact the harvest. Aphids can devour otherwise healthy plants. “You can work as…


Consultant encourages people to engage in the hard work of conversing about race & diversity

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Talking about race is hard. That’s no reason not to have those conversations, Jamie Washington told a gathering of university faculty staff and students and community members last week. Washington, a consultant on diversity, had been invited to Bowling Green State University by the Office of Residence Life. Washington, whose credentials include being an ordained minister, didn’t come pontificate. Instead he had those in attendance do the talking, to each other, one on one face to face with people they didn’t know. He was hoping to spark some genuine conversation.  Not the kind that happens in a meeting where people “perform” what they’re supposed to say, but the kind of exchanges that happen at “the meeting after the meeting” when people are free to share what they really think. One of Washington’s few pieces of guidance for the conversations: “If you’re hearing a voice that says ‘you can’t say that,’ that’s what I need you to say. That will take us to engagement.” Ana Brown, Coordinator for Diversity and Retention Initiative in the Office of Residence Life, said hosting speakers like Washington is a way of fulfilling the university’s mission statement. Washington has been called one of the top consultants on diversity by The Economist. He currently serves as president of the American College Student Personnel Association. Given the community’s partnership with BGSU in Not In Our Town, Brown said, it was natural to pull community members in. “A lot of folks want to have these conversations, but don’t know how. Attending sessions like these will make it more comfortable for these folks.” She hopes to have more dialogues.  That’s a key, Washington said. Progress is only made through practice. If it’s a one-time speaker, or conversations are only held when there’s a crisis, that’s not enough. “It’s like going to the gym once a year.” Leaders, whether campus, government, religious, or business, need to take responsibility for infusing this into the way they do their business every day and create opportunities for conversation. Practice is needed because grappling with issues of race and diversity is difficult. Washington himself said he’s had to deal with his own issues as a male in dealing with female colleagues. “We have to own that difficulty,” he said. That’s the context of these…