the literary life 10/10/09
Went to a library in Pasadena today to participate as a feature reader in a Saturday afternoon poetry workshop. The afternoon workshops there are hosted by Don Kingfisher Campbell at the Santa Catalina Branch. If you live in or near L.A. and are interested in being a feature reader, you might want to email the host with a couple of sample poems and find out if you can be a feature reader, or just show up for the open mic. It's a great informal space to share your work. There was a good group present there today. Here's a link to more information about the readings and workshops going on at this location: http://saturdayafternoonpoetry.blogspot.com/
Anyway, I enjoyed getting out and sharing some poems. I read about 8 or 9 poems, read for about 15 minutes. What I like about reading in different settings is that it's interesting to see which poems an audience responds to and how disparate settings can change the impact or experience of poetry. I think it's important to get out, to read and hear others read. One of the things I appreciate about the poetic life is that poetry can be an art that translates well to the mic, to the stage. When I open a book and read poems, I like the personal link I'm forging between myself and the author. And at a reading, such links are also being made, but in a broader way. It's affirming to be around others who appreciate wordplay.
One of the interesting topics that came up during the reading today was this idea that there's a lot of diversity in the poetry community: there are the academic poets, the street poets, the performance poets, etc. I heard one poet say, "Poetry's like the Christian church. There are several denominations." This statement resonated with me. In fact, at the beginning of 2009 I don't think I realized what a broad group the term "poetry" encompasses today. For instance, during the pen program, I've had a wonderful formal poet, Leslie Monsour, as my mentor. Through her I have learned about the differences between formal and freeverse poets. As time goes by, I'm becoming more and more aware of how different literary journals are springing out of various poetry "denominations." It's comforting, in some way, to know this. However, I'm still working out my feelings about this diversity, where I belong in it, and what to make of it.
After the reading, my husband and I drove to Colorado Boulevard. I wanted to go to Vromans Bookstore, an independent bookstore which I once visited several years ago. It's a cool space that also hosts readings. Apparently, they have a pretty informative blog with reading related posts. Here's a link to their blog: http://blog.vromans.com/