Aralee Strange, poet, playwright, filmmaker and founder of the popular Athens monthly open poetry forum "Word of Mouth", passed peacefully from this earth on June 15, 2013. She was 69.
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Aralee's name was almost too perfect, as if it were a literary device. Yet it is her actual name. And Aralee, with a cloud of salt and pepper hair and lightning bolt tattoo on her cheek, was definitely real, if sometimes larger than life.
Combining fierce devotion with gentleness of spirit, she championed the underdog, the underserved and the under appreciated, while giving short shrift to the self-righteous, the imperious and the prejudiced. Most of all, through her poetry and that of others, she sought truth in all its hiding places. Her works are often visceral responses to her keen observations of the inconsistency, injustice, as well as the striking beauty and love associated with the human experience.
After decades of creative work in New York and Cincinnati, Aralee spent the last four years promoting the spoken word in Athens. The readings upstairs at The Globe on the first Wednesday evening each month have been eagerly attended and participated in by people of all ages, races, creeds and circumstances. Word of Mouth is an encouraging gathering place for poets of every description, whether novice or experienced, to try out their words before a welcoming audience.
Aralee would state that she organized Word of Mouth to encourage the poet in all of us, "because poetry is about paying attention to that which contains a truth, but is more, much more, than simple truth. In poetry there is clarity of language, in short supply these days. I say people should pay attention, sign up and mouth off…in poetry and in life."
Next month, and each month thereafter, Word of Mouth will welcome poets of all stripes to pay attention, sign up and mouth off. As one of Aralee's many poetic admirers has already put it: Even a blind man might discern/ her lucent light still doth burn."
Published in Athens Banner-Herald on June 19, 2013