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Wausau Daily Herald
July 29, 2004
Section: Life
Page: 1B

400 block to become gathering place for readings
David Paulsen


Downtown Wausau might be getting a bad rap for all the road construction under way, but it's also developing a reputation this summer as the place to go for unique entertainment and recreation.

Earlier this month, Chalk It Up Wausau turned the public space on the 400 block of Third Street into a canvas for dozens of artists. The Balloon Rally & Glow and weekly concerts on the block have drawn hundreds of people. And the annual Festival of Arts is scheduled to kick off Sept. 11 as part of the Artrageous Weekend.

Today, however, the 400 block will be transformed into something completely different: a poetry club.

Kevin Korpela, who moved to downtown Wausau in May, organized this "action reading" as an opportunity for the city's closet literati and otherwise solitary writers to come out and test public voices in public. The readings start at 6:30 p.m. today and should include a mix of poetry, prose and odds and ends.

"I thought that I could organize a venue for them to speak their thoughts to a group of like-minded people," he said, and people who stop by to listen tonight might consider reading their prose or poetry in the future. "Listening is just as important as reading. What I realize lately is listening actually helps me understand things much better."

Korpela, 37, has plenty to talk about. He's launched a Web site, observatorydrive.com, as his personal, running think tank of ideas about community involvement and other endeavors.

The action reading event started as one of those ideas, and he also has dabbled in political organizing and developing environmentally sound approaches to commercial zoning.

He's an architect by trade and recently finished graduate classroom work at the University of Wisconsin-Superior and needs to complete some independent study work to earn his master's degree in art.

Korpela's plans for holding regular readings on the 400 block, if successful, could add another dimension of public use to a unique downtown block that was little more than urban blight less than five years ago.

His short-term goal, however, merely is to encourage people to gain confidence in public speaking while sharing their thoughts from written work. "We all have ideas," he said, "and many good ideas."

Copyright (c) Wausau Daily Herald. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of Gannett Co., Inc. by NewsBank, Inc. [Article purchased by Kevin Korpela from www.WausauDailyHerald.com.]

Kevin Korpela, www.observatorydrive.com