Readers’ Theater welcomes Thanksgiving with poetry, prose

Nov 21, 2023

MARION — Before the members of the Marion Art Center’s Readers’ Theater took to the stage on Monday, Nov. 20 at the Marion Council on Aging they had to figure out what they were going to perform.

The theme of the event was “Thanksgiving,” said Readers’ Theater member Karrie Szatek, and that gave them a lot of stories, poems and prose to choose from.

“I knew I wanted to include writings from people from the earlier periods,” she said. “I definitely wanted to find some Native American literature from around here. I went on the net, looked up Native American literature and stories about Thanksgiving.”

The program opened with short Thanksgiving-themed quips that gave the audience a chuckle and progressed into short stories and poetry reflecting Thanksgiving themes of family, food and fun.

Szatek said she enjoyed the “historical aspects” of the literature and how it fits “around the history and Native American stories— particularly because they were here before we were.”

One part of the program paired Walt Whitman’s “I Hear America Singing” with the poem “America, I Sing Back” by Allison Adelle Hedge Coke, a writer of Indigenous heritage.

“I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,” wrote Whitman in 1860. “Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong.”

“America, I sing back. Sing back what sung you in. Sing back the moment you cherished breath. Sing you home into yourself and back to reason,” responded Coke in her own poem.