April is poetry month, and on Monday April 22nd there will be a poetry-reading evening at the Thessalon Union Public Library. The evening starts at 7 and goes to – whenever, I suppose. At least until 9 p.m.
Some of the people getting up to read will be favouring us with their own work. Others will be reading old favourites written by someone else. It’s all good.
I think most of us write poetry in our youth. It’s almost a requirement of sensitive adolescents. I recently found my carefully-compiled and preserved folder of high-school poetry and almost immediately buried it again. Yes, it stank; it was embarrassing to think of reading this stuff out loud, or even to myself. It was from my Sensitive Adolescence, remember? There were a couple of pieces that I thought could be salvaged with some judicious rewriting, but by and large, you ain’t missing a thing.
So why didn’t I just throw it out, if it was that bad? Two reasons, I suppose. I’m a packrat, and I particularly hate to lose written work. I can always throw it out later, but if I throw it out now, I’ll never get it back. Did that make sense? Maybe the same kind of sense as “I have to eat these cookies so they won’t be around to tempt me”. The second reason is that those poems were my path to what I write now. Nobody’s perfect the first time, or maybe even the fifty-first. But you can’t improve if you don’t start, and when you start, you’ll probably suck. It’s always good to be reminded of that; it keeps me from becoming discouraged when I try something new and I don’t get it right.
I know there are people who roll their eyes at the idea of a poetry reading. Depending on the poetry, I might roll my eyes myself (especially if it was some of my own old stuff!). I believe many of us were vaccinated against contracting the dread disease of Enjoying Poetry by having to discuss, dissect and dissert on poetry in high school. I don’t think any of my favourite poems are ones I was forced to study.
On the other hand, I love a lot of poetry that I found on my own, and, yes, I’m the nerdy kid who read poetry for enjoyment, memorized it easily and quoted it at odd moments. I own quite a few books of poetry, and this morning before work I leafed through the complete verse of Rudyard Kipling looking for an old favourite, “The Undertaker’s Horse”.
I’m looking forward to what I’ll hear on Monday evening, and I’m enjoying the process of picking over my own work and deciding what to read. If you’re in the area, it would be great to see you there. If not – well, celebrate Poetry Month. Read a poem. OR write one. Or both.