Thursday, August 4, 2011

Poetry Party

I received an invite a couple of days ago to a poetry party being hosted by my friend Lynne.  Her sister (an annual visitor to Chester) recently had a book of poetry published and Lynne was hosting a reading of her work.  Would I join them?  I have to admit that my first thought was, "What if it's really terrible and I'm trapped there?"   My second thought was, "Poetry?  That can be pretty intimidating."   The invite was so gracious, though, that I decided to throw caution to the wind and go to the reading.  

Anne Baber and Lynne Waymon
Anne Baber, our poet, kicked off the evening with a reference to CBC radio show talk host, Stuart McLean.  McLean has a show called "The Vinyl Cafe" on which he muses about everyday life.  He says that he finds himself writing down "marginalia" (what a great word!) and being on the look out for things that other people might not notice and that it is these morsels that often become the subject of his shows.  Similarly, Anne shared that she views the world through the lens of a poem waiting to be written.  This makes her mindful of what's going on in the world around her in a way that she might not be if she weren't a poet.

The poems that Anne read to us were often funny, always smart and just downright enjoyable.   Her presentation was terrific and I'm enjoying reading her poetry (because of course I bought the book!) with the memory of her voice and intonation in my mind.   I'm running the risk of a copyright violation, but I can't resist sharing some lines from her poetry with you.  The first excerpt is from a poem entitled, "Love in the Time of Twitter." 

                                                 In the interval between
                                                 "Once upon a time..."
                                                 "Happily ever after..."
                                                 electronic foreplay--
                                                 the tweeting of trysts,
                                                 abbreviation and interruption.....

The very last line is a catchphrase with which we have all become familiar:  'Sent from my Blackberry."  Love in the 21st century indeed!   And here are a few lines from a poem entitled "Singing Endlessly":

                                                 In my family, the slightest cue
                                                 evoked a song.
                                                 As in the old musicals,
                                                 one raindrop had us
                                                 sloshing through the puddles,
                                                 swinging 'round the lamppost,
                                                 singing in the rain.....

                                                 I like to think of our voices
                                                 somewhere over the rainbow--
                                                 strong, together always,
                                                 singing endlessly out among the stars.

As I was reading Anne's poems today, I remembered a session I attended at a literacy conference about incorporating reading--and writing--poetry into adult literacy programs.  Poetry is personal and there is no "right" answer about what a poem means.  This makes a carefully chosen poem a great conversation starter when working with ESL (English as a second language) students.  And since poetry doesn't adhere to rules of punctuation or grammar, working with a student to write a poem is a great way to help them get over the fear of putting pen to paper.  As I'm getting back into work mode, it's great to find a nexus between my work and such an enjoyable evening.   Who knows, maybe one of Anne's poems will find its way into one of my lesson plans????

1 comment:

  1. Sorry I missed it, you make it sound VERY enjoyable Pat


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