Poetry Night

Every now and then, a new opportunity, a new role, comes along. Tonight I hosted poetry night at The Well for the first time. The Well, for those who don’t know, is a quirky little hybrid place in downtown Victoria, part restaurant, part health food store, part bookstore, art gallery, clothing store, and most importantly, performance space. It is currently transitioning from a commercial venture into a not-for-profit society. Full disclosure:  I’ll be chair of the first Board of directors.

 

Way more exciting, of course, is the opportunity to be the host of a poetry night in a hotbed of poetry.  You have no idea….

 

So tonight I led off with:

 

Invocation

 

Grant me inspiration

Wash me in the river of creativity

Let my eyes see truth

Let me appreciate beauty in all its many forms

Grant me the grace not to hold tight but to give away

Allow peace to enter my heart

Let me give away my love unreservedly

Let me receive love unconditionally

Illuminate my path in the dark of night

Shade my way in the heat of the day

Grant me wisdom borne of struggle

Bring me tranquility in tragedy

Grant me inspiration

 

Devorah Stohl followed with several very good pieces including a Bill of Rights for poets. Next up was the past Poet Laureate for the City of Victoria Linda Rogers. She read a variety of wonderful pieces as fresh as today’s headlines and still glowing from the vicarious pleasure of Obama’s win. Richard Olafson, publisher and poet, followed with a retrospective look at his poetry from the early years to the present.  Richard charmed us with his time travel return to being twenty years old again, fascinated with the moon.  Finally, the city’s current Poet Laureate, Janet Rogers honored us with her readings.  Janet is not just a poet but an activist, a performance artist, radio personality and so much more.  And later I found out that she used to live just a block or two away but has since moved, pity!

 

Amin, who operates manages the food operations at The Well, closed with a poem in Bengali which, although we couldn’t understand it, moved us all.

 

My final offering was:

 

Eruption

 

Words cascade like flowing lava

Tumbling in a red hot fireglow

Out of a parade of mouths that strain

Implore

Cajole

Inform

Subvert and shock,

Not that anyone here shocks easily,

This room resists tectonic movement

These poems come crammed full of ideas

Concepts

Inner truths

Self-loathing and

Self-love

These words spill out overflowing

Like a broken levee spilling turgid water onto sodden streets

The more the better

Jam packed

Into impossibly long poems read from a single page

And I think that the font must be pretty fucking small

And their eyesight must be damned sharp

For one page to contain this jambalaya of wordfeast

While what I set down on my pages is sparse and spartan

Graphically arranged

Where phrases and words all need their space

And the space between the spaces informs the composition

While these chatterbox beat fiends fly paper kites in the light of the moon

Powered by the breath of a muse

These poems arrive in rhythmic cadences delivered

Naturally as a vaginal birth

Or pulled protesting from the womb in c-sectioned blood

While dilated irises betray the nervousness and fear

That shake fingers clutching just too tightly to a page

These lines explode over our heads like fireworks on a summer night

Briefly illuminating our dark thoughts and secret places

Synapses firing like bullets over Damascus

Punctuated by gentle heckling and raucous rebel yells

Roaring applause

Snapping fingers

Table thumping

While the red hot stream congeals into rock

A rock that will be mined and crushed and used for

Ornamental landscapes

Driveways

Pathways

Recalling the fluid past when rock was molten

Flowing in tongues of fire from the crater into the night

 

 

 

 

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