Monday, February 28, 2005

The Power of Poetry

Poetry night happened and was a success. We ended up with 16 friends who came to read and listen. As we were getting ready for this event, I thought about the probability of 2 of these people having the same birthday and concluded it was somewhat likely (at least 50%). But in thinking about just how many poems are out there, I decided it was highly unlikely that 2 of us would choose the same poem to read. (The instructions had been to bring a poem to share with the group – either one you liked or one that you had written.)

Judith had called me to ask if she could read a little segment from “When We Were Six” by A. A. Milne as an introduction to the evening. After she read, I suggested that the person with the next birthday go first. Can you believe there were actually 2 people whose birthday was March 15 AND they were born the same year? Since they did not seem to know what time, Mollie went first. Each person was allotted 5 minutes, which unfortunately didn’t leave time for a lot of discussion.

The choices of poetry gave me a whole new perspective on these people I call my friends and family. There was everything from T. S. Eliot to Billy Collins to Yehudi Amichai to personal creations to poets we had never heard of – one a cancer victim who was writing to grieve for herself, another an autistic 12-year-old. It was a wonderful smorgasbord of verse that we will hopefully put together in a document which will allow us to go back and savor every word.

There is obviously a Billy Collins fan club among this group of 16. The person sitting just two places to my right read the poem I had chosen (Forgetfulness), which was so appropriate for a mostly 50+ group. So the odds for birthdays and poetry choice were beat! I quickly skimmed the table of contents of “The Art of Drowning” and decided to read “Days” instead, plus his “Introduction to Poetry”, wherein he suggests new ways of looking at poetry that don’t beat it to death in search of a meaning.

After all this reading and listening, we ate decadent food with wine and port and coffee. It was one of the most interesting and fun evenings I have had in a long time. It showed me what a diverse group of friends we have, while we all do share a common love of poetry. Maybe this will become a yearly event!

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