A little of Bessie Smith's Black Water Blues and Give Me One Reason - Tracy Chapman coupled with a template on how to write the blues, made for a fun evening of playing with rhythm in poetry. All I needed to do was bring ingredients and stir and the creativity poured out.
Kris Peterson wrote and performed blues at the workshop.
Thank you PI Founder and IE Literary Laureate, Nikia Chaney for the invitation to teach. It was great fun being a guest facilitator for the lesson: Writing in Rhythm at PI - The Poetry and Performance Alliance of the Inland Empire in San Bernardino's Garcia Center, 536 W. 11th St. They meet every other Monday evening 6 - 8 p.m. It is one of my refilling stations and I'm looking forward to our next poetry rendezvous in music, meters and memory.
"I plan to present Sirens at the California Association Teachers of English Conference." There was no plan in place at the time, only what seemed like a logical hope.
Working with the editors at Jamii Publishing it was suggested that I put footnotes with the poems. I never expressed it, but internally I felt uncomfortable ...and it was interesting to hear a well-established poet announce her dislike of poetry with footnotes at a writer's workshop... I took note and thought about how at one point I might have agreed, but the Sirens journey requested to be clearly identified - and the answer served well.
One of my colleagues was eager to teach the poems to her class. The footnotes were an opportunity to provide historical background. Invited into her classroom, I saw how the issues addressed were points that could be explored even further....
It was at this point that I was grateful for the footnotes and those footnotes were a springboard to creating unit lesson plans - research - technology and providing my colleague with a myriad of options for teaching some of the concepts. It was more than exciting as she shared the growth and talked about her appreciation of the rigor, the engaging resources and most importantly student learning. Footnotes - technology - website - zoom. With her feedback and conversations with students - that unplanned declaration became a planned presentation.
Sirens and the CATE presentation were a perfect combination that I couldn't have planned in my best dream.
Could it rain any harder?
Rain is great weather for writing poetry but not so great for people to get in their cars and drive to hear poetry. Yet, the first 2017 Fourth Sunday Claremont Poetry reading was well-attended. If you aren't familiar with Claremont, it is one of those perfect college towns, streets lined with well-rooted trees, guardians of wisdom and stability; a natural welcome that assures safety. The buildings are classic, sturdy-grey stone-solid, not too ornate, but enough to ensure there is art and creativity afoot. It is not a hustle bustle campus but a pleasant stroll to and from class, quiet enough to construct new universes of thought and being. In other words, the perfect place for a poetry reading.
My older son, Marcus was visiting with me which was perfect because I forgot that I was supposed to have someone to introduce me. All poetry venues have some unique quality, it could be setting, the personality of the host, a ritual, regular readers. The Claremont Fourth Sunday has the reader bring their own, not introduction, but person to introduce them... Usually the poet has no idea what their guest introducer will say, so it is as much a treat to the reader as the audience. Who better to introduce you than your own son - and thankfully he was willing. That was the highlight as well as the pensive and empathetic facial expression that created an immediate bond. It was wonderful to see some of my students and their parents and talk with them during intermission.
I had the pleasure of reading with Karen Greenbaum, who is witty and vibrant, her poetry is a tour through literature, love, landscapes interior and exterior. Her husband introduced her and between his touching introduction and her poetry I felt as though I had been invited into their world and was able to glimpse the soul of their union... I know that sounds mushy - but it's true. I seldom - I don't remember the last time I used the word soul in anything I have written - but there it is.
The perfect way to start a new year.
Welcome to my observations on the craft of writing, venues and writing community experiences.