Originally Blogging the Artist's Way. Thoughts, musings, experience of the 12-week course, January to March 2006. And after that?.... Life, creativity, writing. Where does it all meet? Here, perhaps.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Poetry Reading(s)

Tonight, as part of the annual Earagail Arts Festival in our county, I'll be joining fellow-poets who have been published by Summer Palace Press to read at a wonderful old house in the country. Over the past few years, perhaps I've become blasé about reading in public. I'm blessed with a demeanour that hides any nerves I might feel (people always tell me how "calm" and "serene" I am when I get up to read), and I have come to trust that "it will be alright on the night".

I love to hear poetry read. I love to hear the voice of the poet. I love to hear any few words of introduction they might have. I love to recall moments from readingsI have attended. When I read, there is always someone who comes up to me later to say that hearing that poem brought it alive to them, allowed them to relate to it, to understand something of it in a new way, and I think I've done my job well if there is just that one person.

I didn't always love poetry. At school, the way in which it was taught (and read) turned it into a bore for me. The first poetry-reading I ever went to, I went by accident. Back in 1989? 1990?My friend had a new job, working in administration for an arts-journal, and one of her duties was to make arrangements for the hospitalty for a group of visiting poets. She roped me in to go along and help with the sandwiches. So I did. And I went home and wrote the following poem, dedicated to the women of Killybegs Writers Group.

..........Poetry Reading

We said 'It might be good for a laugh, at least'
Imagine going totally rhapsodic over trees!
Don't get me wrong.
I like trees. Really I do!
But they're hardly that inspiring.

And then, a woman's voice came up
and spoke my heart,
unfurled the rumpled fabric of my life,
in front of all those people.
It was all said in six lines.

Looking around, I saw faces
saying 'She's telling my tale'
and we stood, applauding our lives.

That night, in the Trades Club in Sligo, a smoky, beer-smelling room, filled with people, my soul opened up to what poetry might mean in a life, in my life, and my life did actually change forever. Where I live now, the friends I have, the journeys I have made, the paths I travel, have all been influenced by that night. My sanity has been maintained because of that night.

Since then, I have attended poetry readings in churches, in fine houses, in arts centres and in hotel meeting-rooms. I have heard Billy Collins, Seamus Heaney, Paul Durcan, Paula Meehan, Wendy Cope, Mary O'Malley.... many, many fine poets read, and there have been magical moments for me in each of those readings, but the memory of the night where I first met real poetry stays with me as the one that was the true gift.

If you don't go to poetry readings, try to find one. If you can't find one, open a book and read a poem aloud. If you have someone to read it to, all the better. If you don't have a book, read a poem from Poetry Thursday aloud. Stand up! Applaud!

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At 12/7/07 10:48 am, Blogger Crafty Green Poet said...

I love poetry readings, though some poets are better than others at reading in front of an audience. I love cabaret style evenings where singer songwriters and poets get together and each do a few pieces.

I can really relate to your poem!

At 12/7/07 11:06 am, Anonymous gautami tripathy said...

I too find poetry meets very interesting. I look forward to those.

Your poems speaks out about what goes on in those read meets very well.

At 12/7/07 2:16 pm, Blogger paris parfait said...

I don't often go to poetry readings in France, but I do appreciate them. Your poem is wonderful - the commonality we all see and embrace in poetry.

At 12/7/07 3:38 pm, Blogger Clare said...

Bravo!! I felt so inspired reading this! And I love the line "and we stood, applauding our lives."

At 12/7/07 5:05 pm, Blogger tumblewords said...

Your poem says it all! I dislike reading in public but love to listen.

At 12/7/07 5:35 pm, Blogger anni said...

it is amazing how certain events change everything for us. would love to find some local spots where poets read their work.

At 12/7/07 10:02 pm, Blogger Tammy said...

Great story! I loved my first poetry reading and learned a bad reader can ruin a wonderful poem. BTW I made sure I complimented the reader that took my breath away. :)

At 13/7/07 3:33 am, Blogger sister AE said...

What a great poem. It reminds me that although not all poems speak to me, some seem to speak to the innermost part of me.

At 13/7/07 6:25 am, Blogger Writer on Board said...

Hello Imelda GreenishLady,

Love your blog. I've heard Seamus Heaney read in NYC. Magic. And I once posed for a photo on that Gaudi beast in Barcelona. More magic. I'm a Gaudi fanatic too. Photos of his stuff over my desk. You brought back such wonderful memories. And your poems are lovely. Thank you.

At 13/7/07 2:40 pm, Blogger Rob Kistner said...

Well written, well done!

At 15/7/07 9:46 am, Blogger Tinker said...

I can relate to a lot of what you've written - I read and wrote poetry when I was young - then fell out of love with it, turned off by the way it was taught when I was an older teen. It wasn't till I was an adult and accidentally attended a Poetry Slam that I rediscovered poetry's charms. I still have difficulty trying to write it myself, but at least I've regained appreciation for the poetry of others. I think you're right, too, about hearing a poem read by it's poet - it is a completely different, eye-opening experience. I wish we had more poetry readings in our area. Wonderful that you've had so many opportunities - especially Billy Collins!

At 15/7/07 12:01 pm, Blogger kerrdeLune (cate) said...

Is there anything as wonderful as attending a poetry reading, perhaps reading a poem of one's own? I'm still a bit leery of submitting my own "stuff" for publication and/or reading it aloud, bu I DO love the idea of doing either, and I loved YOUR poem!

At 15/7/07 6:18 pm, Anonymous caroline potato said...

Hi Greenish Lady,

I'm catching up on my favorite blogs. I've given up my internet at home, so I have to schlep my computer and books and stuff to a cafe/wine bar near my apartment.

I'll be here, but will comment with less frequency.

I loved your post about Gaudi. Yes, he created such magical objects.

I didn't like poetry in high school either. I only like it now when I hear it. It's hard for me to "feel" it when it's on the page. I'll bet you are a captivating reader.

At 16/7/07 9:31 pm, Blogger Becca said...

I would love to go to a poetry reading - I've never been, isn't that awful!!

I thoroughly enjoyed a television special a few years ago which was an interview with several contemporary poets reading their work, and it really awakened a new interest in poetry for me.
Hearing poetry read aloud does bring a new dimension to the work.

Great post :)


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