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A Great & Peculiar reading

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In the world of literature, the skill of listening is fast becoming as important as the skill of reading.

America is going aural."Books on tape" are selling very well. Public poetry readings are gaining ground. Many writers and poets are actually beginning to "write for the voice" as well as the eye.

In such a world, the Babcock Performing Readers have an edge. They've been at the game for a long time. They specialize in doing "performances" of favorite texts.

And the next show will be Thursday, March 13, at 7:30 in the Art Barn, 54 Finch Lane. (There will be a follow-up reading at Taylorsville High, 7:30 p.m., on Thursday, March 20.)

This time around, the Babcock readers have chosen "Great & Peculiar Beauty." The anthology, compiled by the Utah Humanities Council and published by Gibbs Smith, pulls together the poems, prose, prayers and pontifications of Utahns over the past 150 years. The earnest, frontier feelings of Jedediah Smith are included. But so are the modern meditations of Edward Geary, Terry Tempest Williams and May Swenson.

Kim Burningham, who Jedediah Smith might call "a Great Basin thespian," has orchestrated the event.

"When the Babcock people called to see if I would do one of their shows, I was reading `Great & Peculiar Beauty,' " says Burningham. "I think it's a wonderful selection. It gives such a rounded picture of Utah. So the evening will range from the very traditional, such as Mary Mount Tanner's account of arriving in the valley, to a piece by David Kranes about the queen of slot machines in Wendover."

The upshot of all this, of course, is a celebration of the Sesquicentennial anniversary of the pioneers arrival in the valley. And some of the authors themselves will be on hand to both read and reminisce. At press time, USU poet Ken Brewer had agreed to show, as had writer Richard Thurman.

Eight local theater personalities will present the pieces: Bryan Bowles, Timothy Lineback, Bryan Gardner, Winnie Nelson, Joyce Tolman and Vauna Taylor, as well as Kim and Susan Burningham. They'll select texts from Emma Lou Thayne, Hector Ahumada, Gino Sky, Dorothy Allred Solomon and many others.

For more information on the reading call Mavis Steadman at 262-1794.

The event is free and open to the public.