Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Hearing master poets a sheer pleasure at Jacksonville’s Southeast Library

Sunset over the St. John's River.

Tuesday evening I had the pleasure of reading poetry with some of Jacksonville’s finest writers. The library’s Southeast Branch organized the “Meet the Poets” event, with Michael Platzer coordinating for the library. A driving force behind the event was Florida poet Bonny Barry Sanders (Touching Shadows, 2005) who helped assemble the poets and publicize the event.

We had great attendance. Part of the reason I think involved the sheer number of participating poets, 9 in all, each of us with a different voice and different approach to style. The whole evening was pleasurable, but some phrases and poems stuck in my mind. Sanders had a poem about wood smoke, comparing it to the scent of cinnamon. Dr. Charles Feldstein had a line where he juxtaposed the cage and the canary motif. Jean Shepherd in one of her poems likened walking into a rain forest to walking into a fig. Dorothy Fletcher (Zen Fishing and Other Southern Pleasures, 2005) took a unique approach. All the poems she read started with the letter, “L”, including one poem about a beauty queen descending on Florida from the Midwest. Michele Leavitt read a wonderfully constructed sonnet. And those are just the parts that come to the forefront of my brain—all the poets presented interesting work.

I read poems from my new collection Notes from a Florida Village, including an aubade I wrote for my husband.

As I sat there listening, I thought how this same scene might have played out in ancient times, only instead of sitting at a table with a mic, and sipping mini-bottles of water, our ancient bards would’ve been grouped around a fire, with drums thumping an undertone as the stories were told. Last night was like a gathering of the tribes. It was amazing to witness the talent in that room. The whole audience stayed; no one left early.

That tells you the poets were doing something right. And kudos to Michael Platzer for utilizing talent close to home as a poetry resource.

No comments: