A Luminous Halo

"Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end." --Virginia Woolf

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Location: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Smith ’69, Purdue ’75. Anarchist; agnostic. Writer. Steward of the Pascal Emory house, an 1871 Second-Empire Victorian; of Sylvie, a 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SL; and of Taz, a purebred Cockador who sets the standard for her breed. Happy enough for the present in Massachusetts, but always looking East.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Mardi Gras Poet

I don't always attend the monthly open mic poetry sessions at the downtown library (way too many extra-curricular activities around here for any one person to pursue), but I couldn't resist today's. A one-hour publishing panel kicked it off; I already know what's involved in publishing a book, but I wanted to meet the panelists, especially James Kates, co-director of the Boston-based non-profit literary publishing house, Zephyr Press.

Kates, Springfield author Barbara Ann Gowan, and Florence Poets Society member Thomas "Twilite" Clark summarized their experiences and fielded questions, then sat back and listened to the poetry. Tommy Twilite went back up to the mic and recited a pretty good poem, Crystal Senter Brown, who's the host, always does a few poems and is pretty cool, but I especially liked this young man making his poetic début with us.

Originally from New Orleans, he recited a poem he'd written about Mardi Gras, then cheerily flung a few strings of beads into the audience. He stumbled partway through his recitation, which momentarily flustered him, but he didn't give up. A deep breath and he backed up a bit, restarted his stanza and finished swimmingly. The audience was encouraging and enthusiastic.

And that's what I like so much about open mic poetry. Where else is a teenaged African-American kid going to get props from blue-haired ladies, ponytailed Vietnam vets, timid WASP-y housewives, middle-aged women on disability, Latino single mothers, and gruff old white guys? Poetry...the great civilizer.

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