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"Poets, critics, friends gather at PegasusThe five share nature as a common theme."

"Poetry might seem a solitary pursuit, but for five writers who are also friends, it's a conversation that has lasted 15 years. The five will gather at Pegasus Coffee House Friday evening to renew friendship, read poetry - and celebrate Sue Hylen's new chap book, Double Exposure.We supported each other and critiqued work, said Hylen, who with John Willson, Kristin Henshaw, Leigh Kennell and John Davis joined Nancy Rekow's writing workshop in the 1980s. We bolstered each other through the rejection letters. That is where, Willson says, the conversation began. Instead of competing, the poets continued to work together and to help one another.Hylen took the photos for Henshaw's book. Henshaw helped Hylen choose poems for Double Exposure, and Willson also helped Hylen with the book. Willson started a writing workshop under the aegis of Hylen's park district program in 1991.While attitudes toward the writing process are distinct, the five poets accept each others' idiosyncrasiesWillson can take many weeks to write a first draft of a poem. Willson laughs at himself, at the image of the poet at work: If people saw me, just sitting at the table, not writing anything for minutes at a time, they'd say, 'What can that man be doing?'Henshaw won't force herself to write, saying, simply, If I write, I write. If I don't, I don't. Davis, on the other hand, believes that writers should attach the seat of pants to seat of chair and write.Although their methods vary, all agree that nature is the common theme. We all live on Bainbridge, Davis said, and how can you not write about the beautiful place where you live? All five poets have published and given readings. Willson has sold all but 40 of his 250 chap books.It doesn't hurt sales to work at the bookstore, he observes dryly.Davis has published widely, Henshaw had a poem accepted by a national magazine when she was still in high school, while Hylen has made a choice not to send work out at all. The poets find their lives are busier these days than they were when all first met at Rekow's workshop 15 years ago. They can't hang out as much as they did a few years back.Still, the friendships endure.I enjoy reading their work, Davis said. They're all wonderful people and they all have given a lot to their community. I salute them.Poets John Davis, Kristin Henshaw, Sue Hylen Leigh Kennell and John Willson read at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 9 at Pegasus Coffeehouse. Call 842-6725. "

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