The picture that launched the contest: This 1955 photo of actor James Dean was part of a series that appeared in Life magazine. He is seated at his aunt's kitchen table in Fairmount, reading a book of poetry by James Whitcomb Riley, Dean's favorite poet.
Getting reacquainted with the Hoosier Poet: Riley Old Home and Museum hostesses (from left) Brigette Jones, Patricia Richwine, Gwen Betor, Frieda Pettijohn, Rosemarie Pell and Pat Miller pose with some of James Whitcomb Riley's works to promote the 'Who is reading Riley?' contest. (Tom Russo/Daily Reporter)
GREENFIELD — Reading James Whitcomb Riley used to be cool. Now, hostesses at the Riley Old Home and Museum are hoping to bring the work of the Hoosier Poet back into fashion with an online photo contest.
The “Who is reading Riley?” contest seeks photos of famous, notable and well-known people reading a copy of any Riley work. Submissions will be accepted until Sept. 15, when the gallery will be open for voting. The 10 photos with the most votes – the “coolest” people reading Riley – will be displayed at the home during Greenfield’s annual Riley Festival in October.
“People don’t know who (Riley) is anymore,” said Brigette Jones, Riley historian and hostess at the James Whitcomb Riley Old Home and Museum. “This is an opportunity for people to get educated. We want to see who we can get reading Riley.”
It will be tough to top the photo that inspired the contest, though.
James Dean, film star of the 1950s and Indiana native, was an avid reader of the Hoosier Poet. On assignment with Dean for Life magazine, photographer Dennis Stock captured an image of Dean reading “The Complete Poetical Works of James Whitcomb Riley.”