Mick Barnes loves to write poetry.
Anyone who knows him knows that.
What they may not know is that he loves reading his poems too.
Barnes proved that Saturday evening at the Historic Fort before an adoring audience and NBC television cameras.
For the 84-year-old lifelong Taft man, it was a dream come true made possible by a program launched by a high school student for terminally ill hospice patients.
Students at the Liberty High School (Bakersfield) chapter of Dreamcatchers arranged for Barnes to have an evening with family and close friends to share memories and a few laughs.
The highlight was his poetry reading – something he relished.
“Well, I’m a bit of a ham at heart,” he said after sharing poems about Taft, his wife Alice, grandkids and his best friend.
Barnes was overwhelmed by his evening in the spotlight.
“I think it’s pretty darn nice,” he said. “I was flabbergasted with the whole thing. It was just wonderful.”
It was captured for broadcast during the Nov. 17 Notre Dame-Wake Forest football game (Bright House Cable Channel 8).
When Dreamcatchers founder Caitlin Crommett, a sophomore at Notre Dame, was asked about featuring the charity for a halftime segment she called the Liberty High chapter. Student leaders there contacted Optimal Hospice Care, which put them in touch with Mick and Alice.
Following an interview at the Barnes home, the party was quickly arranged.
The student group arranged for 25 of Barnes’ favorite poems to be published in book form with copies mailed to his family and close friends.
They also flew in family members for the occasion and arranged for a Marine color guard and presentation of a flag that flew over the U.S. Capitol. Barnes is a Navy veteran.
Crommett presented Barnes with his own dream catcher fashioned after the Native American original, which was made of a willow loop with a woven net or web.
She told Barnes the dream catcher allows good dreams to pass through but snares bad dreams in its web.
Crommett launched her organization three years ago when she was a high school student in San Diego.
She hopes the exposure that stems from the Barnes event will spawn other chapters and said it is fitting to have a dream from the Liberty High club “be the one featured in a national commercial.”
Leading the Liberty chapter are the 16-year-old Busacca triplets – Isabella, Sophia and Anthony – who attended the Barnes reception.
Page 2 of 2 - For more information visit www.dreamcatchers1.com.
“I’ve been writing poetry all my life,” he said, something one of his teachers encouraged him to do. “I really just mess around with it.”
Most of Barnes’s poems are about Taft, although there are a few about the 13 years he and Alice spent working for American oil companies in the Middle East and North Africa.