Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Beyond My Poetry Year (or, "I left the house, and I want to tell you about it!")

In which Your Humble Blogger forgoes posting her own poetry so she can tell you about other people reading theirs:

Yep, I wrote on Monday that today I would post my love letter to all things sci-fi and fantasy. Hope the handful of you reading this (thank you -- *mwah!*) don't mind if I put that post off; I had made that call before I decided to attend a poetry reading.

The picture of a poetry reading that I think many people call to mind (including me, I'm guilty) isn't a flattering one. We imagine flat-voiced readers at an open mic, swaying a little as the words leave their mouths, inserting pauses and breaks between words for reasons we can't always gleam, while the audience, which is composed mostly of other poets awaiting their turn at the mic, flip frantically through their notebooks, trying to decide which selections to read and paying nary a bit of attention to the person currently wading through her performance.

It isn't always like that. If you want proof, and you ever have the opportunity to do so, go see Mary Karr read.

Mary Karr is best known for the memoir The Liar's Club, but it turns out that she writes a lot of poetry, too, and she's clearly in love with the medium. Last night, she gave a poetry reading at Chicago's Art Institute and demonstrated how lively poetry -- and poets -- can be. She's self-deprecating, whip-smart, and has comedic timing right up there with that of all the kings and queens of the one-liners. (One poem's intro: "You've seen these stores called Forever 21... there's no Forever 56 out there... I've noticed...") The best, though, is that she delivered her poems as if she were telling stories, which is a tendency that I imagine could be influenced by her ability to write captivating prose. But there was a narrative flow to her reading; there was emotion in her voice. It was interesting! It was moving! It was poetry!

Poems, pictures, paintings -- they all tell stories; they all strive for human engagement. It's amazing how easily we can forget this, striving for art. It makes me ashamed of my notebook.

But in a good way.


  1. Awesome! Thanks for that 'report', Sheila!

    now, where's that love letter?

  2. Come back on Friday! Must spread out the posts so that I have enough material to keep this blog alive!

    Thanks for commenting, Raf. ;)

  3. Thanks for writing such good stuff that commands comment...ation! Or sumpin' like that!