If you live or have lived in Lancaster, PA, it’s likely that you’ve read Daina Savage’s words. An award-winning communication specialist, Savage has written for a variety of publications, including Recreation News, Central PA, Susquehanna Style, and Lancaster Newspapers. Her freelance work has included communications campaign and speechwriting for politicians as well as annual report and speech writing for Franklin & Marshall College’s president. Or, you may have taken a yoga class with Savage, who has completed the 200 hours required to become a RYT (Registered Yoga Teacher). She earned her B.A. in English at Dickinson College and completed her master’s degree coursework in humanities at Penn State Harrisburg.
Although writing nonfiction is how she makes her living, Savage has been writing poetry since childhood. In her spare hours (!) Savage has been an integral part of developing the Lancaster literary community. After being selected to perform and be published in the early 90s through a “That There Art” event, Savage found herself in a thriving community of writers. “They took me in,” she says, “..invited me to be part of their group, workshopping in each other’s homes, and reading at local coffeehouses like the Monk’s Tunic and Fred & Mary’s. Eventually I became part of the Lancaster Poetry Continuum group and began organizing readings.”
Savage was selected by the Lancaster Literary Guild as the second Lancaster County Poet Laureate from 2010 to 2012, serving as an advocate for poetry throughout the region by coordinating readings, speaking to community groups, and publicizing events. She has also co-directed the Spoken Word Festival since its inception twelve years ago. “I enjoy the opportunity to showcase the broad talents of the local writing community to a larger audience,” she says, “…And even more, I love introducing writers to each other and watching them create their own community.”
How long have you been involved with the local Lancaster writing community?
“In 1997, I organized a monthly Sunday afternoon reading series at the Lancaster Museum of Art. It was great fun pairing the museum’s exhibits with featured poets – the juxtaposition was wonderful. Attendance was great, we’d have up to 100 people attend the readings. But it was a great deal of work to create that series, and so after that, I organized occasional events like the weekend of poetry at Mulberry Art Studios during ArtWalk weekend, where poets read continually throughout the event…And then three years ago, I was asked to create a summer writing camp, which allows me to help mentor a whole new developing community of young writers, which is terribly rewarding.”
What are you most excited about in terms of what is happening with the literary arts in Lancaster?
“That a supportive community exists. Writers create in such solitary ways, it’s nice to emerge from the work and have others who are similarly struggling offer encouragement.”
What was the literary community like in your hometown?
“There wasn’t a literary community in my rural hometown at all. But fortunately there was some Maryland State grant money which allowed for a poet-in-the-schools program when I was in high school. Once a year we’d have a poet (Daniel Mark Epstein) visit the county for a few days and in my senior year I got to work one-on-one with him. Having the opportunity to work with this visiting poet was a great influence and made a life as a writer seem possible.”
What do you want to see more of in our literary community?
“In the last few years, what’s been happening with the Millersville Spoken Word poets is so exciting. I love seeing the workshops happening at Tellus 360. DogStar Books has the most beautiful space to read and create community. The Ware Center has such a great energy for larger events. The Lancaster Literary Guild continues to support poetry. We have a local press – Iris G. Press (and its new imprint I. Giraffe Press) that get the words on paper to be savored. It’s all wonderful and exciting and inspiring.”
Tell us something interesting about Lancaster.
“What I love the most about Lancaster is the way the county celebrates spring. Growing up in snow country, spring meant slush and mud and a condensed bloom of a week or two. In Lancaster there are months to relish the unfolding of the season, from the first emergence of small, sweet bulbs to the full-on cacophony of exuberant blooms exploding from trees, shrubs, and the earth.”
Tell us something interesting about another poet/writer in the area.
“I am in admiration of Lancaster’s first poet laureate Barbara Strasko’s early morning writing habit. Making that priority first thing in the morning is admirable, and something I aspire to do. I am in awe of current poet laureate Chris Longenecker’s ability to commit her words to memory and create the cadence of her work by composing as she walks. One of my favorite local poets is Jeff Rath, whose work slays me. My model for good storytelling and a way to see the world is my friend Ted Anthony of Pittsburgh, whose non-fiction work carries a poetic sensibility.”
Savage was kind enough to allow us to re-post a poem from the Lancaster Poetry website. Enjoy!
When Haying is Over
by Daina Savage
There must be some way
to see god, somehow in climbing
an apple tree in October, when the fruit
is gone and the branches are reaching
to heaven, there must be an answer,
his arms must be there, or
when haying is over, the wagons
swept and sprayed down,
the barn full of the rich
smells of hay slowly molding,
and the fresh coat of creosote shining
from the wagons, burning eyes,
nose, throat, stinging all senses
into a high-toned perception – somewhere
in the perfect mirrored blackness
of the creosote barrel is his face, is the place
where all the answers lie.