.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Unpopular Ideas

Ramblings and Digressions from out of left field, and beyond....

Location: Piedmont of Virginia, United States

All human history, and just about everything else as well, consists of a never-ending struggle against ignorance.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

K.'s Poetry Reading

Yesterday evening, with Esther, I took a big chance and made a rare foray off my property  -- across the road to our closest neighbors,  the highly personable K.,, who is  now a renowned potter, and his illustrious wife, L.   The occasion was a party to celebrate K.s latest birthday, the 62nd, and K. and L. have made it tradition that all who attend the party are invited to bring along and to read aloud to the company any poetry that strikes his or her fancy.

  This has been an annual event for close to 10 years now, and it was only wrecked one time, and by K. himself, when, finding himself in a theater building with a stage, an audience, and all the members of his Thursday night music group, he could not resist dumping the whole poetry thing  overboard, in favor instead of a night-long session of playing all their regular pieces, complete with the ear-splitting sound that is a threat to any music concert nowadays, what with all the modern advances in speakers and what-not,, and thus ensuring that every word of every lyric that K. belted out so fondly would be totally drowned out in that sea of excess decibels .

But that was several years ago, and that lapse has not been repeated since.   I know it was K.s birthday and he had a total right to enjoy himself in whatever manner he wanted, but the impromptu concert somehow did not have the same inclusive virtues as poetry readings, and a bunch of us had come fully armed to take part in just that and so had been shut out..

Last night I waited till midway through the readings of mostly short, pithy, and often humorous poems from a very wide range of poets, including some written by the readers, to get myself together, as is my custom, and then I read a poem by Stephen Vincent Benet, called "Nightmare, with Angels."   This poem dates from about the 1930's.   Probably almost forgotten now, Benet was well-known in that era, especially for a book-length poem about the Civil War called "John Brown's Body," and I tended to rate his stuff a touch above the more esteemed poets who  were so much more likely to be taught in university courses.   The "giants" like Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot, e.e. cummings (striving to be different, he liked it typed that way), and William Carlos Williams were okay, but they often made for some very tough sledding, and that was never a problem with Benet.

The poem was much longer than most that were read, and I was worried about that, but afterward, I received a lot of congratulations that bowled me over, because it seemed to add up to saying that my reading that poem had been the high point of the session, and I was even also praised for having usually read one of the best poems of the night.

But that should be no surprise.   I have read one of my own poems once or twice,  but I don't like reciting my own stuff,  and instead I almost always draw from my store of great though usually uncelebrated poems written by others all over the world and the eras,  and I wlll never run out of those, because I have infallible taste in poetry and I happen to have amassed a long shelf packed with those wonders of human creativity.


Post a Comment

<< Home