IRONWOOD — Local author Pat O’Neill will be hosting a “story-bearing benefit” Tuesday at Tacconelli’s in Ironwood at 6:30 p.m.
The event will feature passages from O’Neill’s book “Songs of the Coyote,” as well as poems from his upcoming book “Paste Baby Black.”
Proceeds from the event benefit local creative programs through the Ironwood Carnegie Library, Downtown Art Place and Schneller Art Gallery.
“Every penny goes to the kids,” O’Neill said. “They do a phenomenal job with those programs, so I give them every penny I can.”
Arlene Schneller, of Schneller Art Gallery and DAP, offered a summer art program on Fridays for youth and teens in the area. Participants learned about a variety of art media, including making copper jewelry, books, assemblage sculptures and working with raku clay.
“They were able to work with things they normally wouldn’t be able to,” Schneller said. “It was a really great program this year with a lot of success and enthusiasm from the students.”
Lynne Wiercinski, assistant director of the Ironwood Carnegie Library, said the summer programs at the library went “wonderfully,” and students participated in a variety of creative writing programs during the summer.
Students wrote poetry, word art and other pieces, using some of O’Neill’s work for inspiration.
“Pat wrote a poem about fireflies, and we did a firefly story hour,” Wiercinski said. “The students created wonderful firefly art and collectively wrote a firefly poem.”
For O’Neill, creativity is something that needs to be encouraged.
“I like to focus on younger kids because there is a lot of creativity in them,” O’Neill said. “They need to be given the opportunity and encouraged to be creative for the rest of their lives.”
According to Schneller, O’Neill has made many programs possible for kids in the area.
“He stopped in and visited during our short story and poetry writing, and he was thrilled,” Schneller said. “If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be able to volunteer and have classes both at DAP and at my gallery. I will definitely do this again next summer.”
Things come full circle, Wiercinski said, no matter what art form is being used.
“There are just all sorts of learning experiences for kids, and they are so much fun,” Wiercinski said. “There is such a tie-in with all of the arts, whether it’s the art they have known traditionally or experiencing new things. With creative writing and poetry, sometimes it can be hard to get kids excited, but make it part of a project and kids come back time and time again.
“Without Pat’s help, this would be impossible to do,” Wiercinski said. “Between the collaboration with DAP and Arlene, it’s just made such an impact on the kids. This is a community effort and we’re so proud to be a part of this.”
Tickets for the event are available at Tacconelli’s, the library, Nora’s and Z Place Gallery. Admission includes desserts and soft drinks.
“I’m lucky to have people who care about what I care about,” O’Neill said. “The enthusiasm that these kids have, and the energy makes it seem as though I’m 130 years old compared to those kids. I was overwhelmed and it was great. I will work as hard as I can for as long as I can to keep making money for these programs. It’s worth every minute.”
For more information about the event call the Ironwood Carnegie Library at 906-932-0203. To learn more about O’Neill, visit patoneillonline.com.