Last night was my first time attending the Fresh Air Reading Series at the New French Bar
As always, I had my composition book with me and wrote the following notes during the readings:
Mara Simmons–her series of poems reflect a serious study of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Each poem exhibits much research and passion … bringing humanity to news stories which desensitize Americans. The theme is well born out through references in Hebrew and Arabic and native plants and streets. Really inspired by her theme-based poems.
Jeff Davis–the elder poet with long gray hair and soft voice at time almost a whisper … brings a melancholy maturity to the round-robin reading. He offers love poems and poems heavy with nostalgia … he is taller than the other poets and needs to re-adjust the microphone and still he leans down into the foam covered device as if praying … his water poems are most excellent.
Kathy Godfrey–a bawdy poet with spunky, sensual, sensational poems. From what I overheard among the crowd, she teaches poetry at ABTech and many in the audience were her students … ethical question … should a teacher read a graphic poem about masturbation in front of her students … among other poetic subjects include green beans, Tough Man contests
Autumn Choi–slam poet … holds her own … confessional style presentation. Sort of romanticizes the school-of-hard-knocks subject matters … works well in this vehicle of drama.
I left immediately after the readings. I guess that was a bit impolite on my part for several people were in attendance that I knew. But I needed to get away–to think. I walked for several blocks pondering the poems and poets I heard Wednesday night. Why do I write what I write? Do I have what it takes to write poetry on the level of these local poets? Do I have the commitment to follow through with what I’ve started? Or am I merely dabbling in something, which I should leave to professional wordsmiths?
Some of this wondering is directly related to last weekend’s event. Saturday afternoon I found myself at Barley’s sitting across the from a local writer who has received well-deserved accolades for her work. Other local poets were in attendance with comparable merit and distinction. And there was me feeling very much like an outsider or poser.
After reading last night’s notes again at morning light it is apparent that I am partial to poems with academic/intellectual substance. Not to disqualify the other poets mind you. Annie Dillard writes: “The writer … is careful of what he learns, because that is what he will know.” I know what kind of poetry I want to produce. So, I favor and enjoy hearing from poets who seem to exhibit attributes of what I’d like to write in verse.
The Rapid River just published a poem I wrote. It is featured in the April 2006 issue. I guess I’m on a roll. I think the poetry editor has published four or five of my poems in the last eight months. Furthermore, I have been invited to read some of those poems at a best of Rapid River poetry reading on June 22nd at Malaprop’s Bookstore/Café. Details are pending, but it looks like six local poets will be reading their work that evening. I’ll update the new EVENTS section (located in the left column) as information is available. Regarding the published poem, Values: II–it is part of a series of poems I’m tentatively calling Elements of Design. Surprisingly it stands well on its own, but I have a hard time reading it without knowing its sibling poems.