James Rada, Jr.

Many Emmitsburg residents have the soul of a poet that is striving to be released. On the third Friday of each month they gather in the Holy Grounds Café inside St. Philomena’s Catholic Books and Gifts on the square in Emmitsburg. They order a drink and then settle down to read poetry or to simply listen to it being read.

The members of Catoctin Voices, Emmitsburg’s local poetry group, come from all walks of life, but they all share a love for the rhythm of words.

“I am always amazed at the different styles and voices we have reading to us,” said Lisa Cantwell, the group’s founder. “And the more we have, the better it will be.”

Catoctin Voices met for the first time in November 2013, and has been going strong ever since.

“Word is getting out,” Cantwell said. “Poetry needs to be out there in the public eye.”

The meetings begin at 7:00 p.m., and after a few short announcements, members read a couple short pieces to the group. Sometimes it is a poem the member has written, but other times, it’s simply a piece that appealed to the reader. The pieces may be short or long, humorous or serious. Some of the subjects at a recent meeting were seasons, photographs, love, diets, and dead cats. Often there is a guest speaker at the meetings.

“We’ve had Virginia Crawfort, Maryland’s Poet in Residence, come from Baltimore to speak with us, as well as Sis. Ann Higgins, who has been featured twice on National Public Radio (NPR),” said Cantwell.

The guest speaker at the meeting on February 20, 2015, will be Mark Greathouse. Greathouse not only writes poetry, but has published a self-help book and young-adult novel. He is also the president and managing partner of Strategic Capital Partners, LLC, a business that connects early-revenue-stage, technology-based ventures with the private equity capital necessary for growth.

Catoctin Voices is not meant to be a critique group. Some members meet separately to critique each others’ works. The group was set up to give poets an outlet where they can read their work and to allow them to inspire and delight each other through their works. 

“Poetry speaks to the soul,” Cantwell said. “These mountains seem to speak out and tell stories.”

Poetry group 2 - by James Rada, Jr.

Reader is Martin Malone from Mount St. Mary’s University.

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