Hot Springs Sentinel Record – Wednesday Night Poetry features traveling horse exercise rider

Amanda Villafranco, an exercise rider and pony person at Oaklawn Park, will be this week’s feature for Wednesday Night Poetry at Kollective Coffee+Tea, 110 Central Ave.

The regular open mic session for all poets begins at 6:30 p.m. and Villafranco will perform at 7 p.m., followed by another open mic. Admission is free and open to all ages.

A native of Hettinger, N.D., Villafranco travels the thoroughbred race circuit with her husband, a trainer, and their 6-year-old daughter. Villafranco works at Oaklawn Park, Prairie Meadows Racetrack in Altoona, Iowa, and at Remington Park in Oklahoma City, which is their home base.

“I had been coming to Oaklawn every year for the past seven years, and it wasn’t until mid-racing season last year that I found out about Wednesday Night Poetry,” Villafranco said in a news release. “It made coming back this year so much more exciting for me.”

She started writing poetry in elementary school as part of class assignments, but her exposure to poetry began much earlier than that. “My dad had me memorize a poem when I was about 3 years old,” Villafranco said. “He wanted to show off my memorization skills to his friends.” In high school she competed in poetry as part of the school’s speech team.

“Writing poetry is like riding my horses. I collaborate with the horse to create something that is invisible, but emotionally tangible. … ” she said. “Creating a poem elicits the same response in me as accomplishing a new goal with a horse.” Villafranco regards poetry as a combination of therapy, self-exploration, observation, and a way to indulge her passion for languages and culture. Although English is her principal language, she often writes the first draft of her poems in Spanish.

Her favorite poet is Pablo Neruda. “His writing style, including his exploration of language mechanics and the way he challenges accepted literary usage while remaining simple, concise, and readable I find inspiring.”

Villafranco is currently a senior at the University of Oklahoma majoring in liberal studies with a concentration in social science. She plans to pursue graduate study in linguistics.

Email budonfoot@yahoo.com for more information about Wednesday Night Poetry.

Entertainment on 02/13/2018