Poetry Reading: flood stage

Once again, we had no poets show at our poetry reading tonight. On the other hand, we had an audience. Five people showed up hoping to have a cup of coffee and be entertained, and the baristas directed them to me. Can’t disappoint an audience!

So, I read or recited about a dozen poems, some from Bashō, some from John Keats, a few dozen lines from Beowulf, and so on. In between, we had a conversation on great writers: Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare, Robert Fagles the translator, John Chapman (who first translated Don Quixote and The Iliad into English), James Joyce, Jane Austen. I was reminded again that I don’t have much memorized by female authors, and I need some in my book of tricks. In all, the night was rather like having a mini-feature of the Dead Poets Society, without an open mic at all. One of them recited a dozen lines or so from Casey at the Bat, but the rest — while recalling that they’d been made to memorize something or other in high school or college — actually didn’t remember what they’d learned and memorized so long or so recently ago.

In many ways, this was a small taste of what I wish my feature on July 29 at Reflections Café could be. I’d love for it to be a roiling, rollicking conversation among poets, reciting some of their favorite works by other authors, discussing meter and form and lack thereof, pattern, diction and performance. There’s a video team coming in to record us, and I think that could be totally awesome and… and… mythic. Rich and wondrous and beautiful, and far more of a poetry jam than anything else we’ve seen on TV so far.

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