(I write this while on four different drugs during my prep hour [I have a sinus infection, but told the doctor yesterday "I cannot miss work again", so he gave me nasal spray, antibiotic, decongestant, and recommended ibuprofen for the pain.] It will need revision most likely when I am well.)
I have long considered myself a lover of poems, a writer of poems, a novice scholar of poems. To hear the words read aloud, or be the one reading the words, images, art, is an articulate pleasure. Poetry was my chosen category in high school speech, and it took me to state; beginning my love for this thing we call "oral interpretation". In high school and college, I kept a poetry journal. Random snatches of feeling captured on fine paper in a leatherbound book no one has ever read. Early on, I was obsessed with the intricacies of rhyme and meter. Later, the rage of a bad relationship garnered poems with hard edges and sophmoric angst. I'd like to think they aren't ALL bad, but I wouldn't know for sure, as I am too self-conscious to share them.
I have "taught" poetry to 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, and 12th graders in my five years of teaching. Taught meaning followed the laid out curriculum, but also tried with fervor to share my passion. The passion, however, isn't something easily taught. Trying to get small-town high school seniors to understand the difference between Shakespearean and Edwardian sonnets is like pulling teeth when you're in a classroom with a hillside view...in May. I don't think half of them even learned how to say "iambic pentameter", let alone recognize it. But I tried. And isn't that what matters?
I tried this year to organize a Poetry Out Loud competition at school at the prodding of one of my literary magazine students. We posted fliers and made announcements, but only 3 people signed up, not enough to hold the event. Poetry, perhaps, isn't what it used to be.
This felt like a strong relationship to poetry, this writing, studying, teaching, reciting. And perhaps I am flirting with poetry in my life still, writing a poem every now and then when the moment captures me. But if I am flirting with poetry, then my dear friend Molly is engaged to poetry; married, perhaps, when her first book comes out, which I assure you, will be someday soon. Friday night I trekked to the far away town of Fridley to sit on a plastic chair in a room with chipping paint and wide floorboards in a farmhouse-turned-tavern-turned-brothel-turned-hardware store-turned-arts center. (An adequate progression, to be sure.) There, with a beautiful quilt exhibit in the adjacent rooms, Molly read her poetry.
I have read many of Molly's poems, as she shares them on her blog from time to time. I bought her lovely postcard when it was published by Yes Press in October. I knew she was an extremely talented writer. But nothing compares to hearing an author share their own work aloud. It is so raw, so passionate, so pure. Such confidence, such grace.
Molly read second, after an MFA candidate who does have a published book, something that would intimidate me to no end. But despite the other reader's "success", I felt Molly was more real and alive. She brought the audience to both tears and laughter on several occasions. Her father drove over from Wisconsin, two other friends were there as well. Snow fell in light flakes outside the window. It was most simply, quite beautiful. If I were her, I could describe the moment better. She would find more to say. Alas, I am out of words. Just, well done, Molly. Thanks for sharing.