Thursday, December 01, 2005

The Sheer Poetry of it All

Have you noticed that when you do a search, particularly of the news media with the words poet, or poetry that you find that usually they are used to describe something other than poetry?

Very few people seem to be willing to admit what is or isn't poetry these days, but folks sure appear to know what it is when talking about … say a dancer or a sports figure in action, our even that adorable baby panda at the zoo in Washington.

We share a belief, Andrew and I, in the importance of being able to read our poems in public well. At our local Oregon Book Awards Ceremony they hire professional actors to read out an excerpt of a signature poem to the audience to let the poet know she or he has won the award.

A few years back we had a weekly open mic reading in a coffeehouse in which by creating and fostering a respectful and engaged audience we encouraged our poets to read as well as they were capable.

One of the ways we did that was by relentlessly inviting actors to come read. And it worked.

Andrew encouraged me to take a risk and read Daddy by Sylvia Plath on a night when we were featuring The Beats. (Radical idea that, but Plath has one awesome beat.) In practicing the poem and then reading it to a large room of people I understood in a deep way, in my bones, not only how technically brilliant Plath was but how much courage she had.

That experience led me to take a conservatory acting class this last spring in which I had to take all sorts of risks I never could have imagined before.

On Charlie Rose on Tuesday night, his second guest was Michael Boyd, the Artistic Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company and at last I felt comfortable listening to a non poet talk about the sheer poetry of it all!



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