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The Poets Weigh In

ardebwindow2.jpg Sometimes it takes a poet to speak the unspeakable in a way that is pointed and yet melodic enough to make us hear with more than our ears.

Our April Spoken Word night at the Café Del Sol in Floyd took place five days after the Virginia Tech shootings in Blacksburg. With Blacksburg being only 40 minutes from Floyd, I figured some of the readings would involve more than the expected seasonal and Earth Day fare.

I was right. Mara read a prose piece about when she was fourteen and first heard Nikki Giovanni, the Virginia Tech professor and poet who recently brought the Tech community together with her rousing words. Later, as a budding new poet at age of sixteen, Mara met Nikki and asked her if she had any writer’s advice to offer. “How old are you?” Nikki asked before answering Mara’s question, “Go live awhile, for God’s sake."
Mara leaned into the mic and looked out at the audience as she spoke: “My grandmother made food when there was a tragedy. Many women who I have known resort to that, hands-on care of those who are still alive … there is comfort in a bowl of rising bread, in layers of lasagna, in new sprouts of spring greens in a fresh garden salad.”

Then she grabbed two baskets full of home-made chocolate chip oatmeal cookies and passed them out to the crowd, saying, “This food will not heal you. It will not make the tears go away; it will not bring anyone back. There is nothing, really, that anyone can do. But this is my heart, my tears my grief, and my relief that all of you are still here to share this with me.”
sallymic.jpgMy poetic offering did not involve food, but did relate to the Tech shootings. “The Poet’s Lament” was written the day before as a sub-conscious journey, which began with my complaining about forgetting how to write poetry and led, clue by clue, to the truth of what was really bothering me.

Arden (first photo), a Hollins University creative writing student who is about to graduate with a Master’s degree, might have wondered why I was snapping so many photos when he was reading. It was a pleasure to hear his original poetry, but I was also taken by the outline of the large tree outside the large café window at sunset and the reflection of the café lamps that seemed to go on forever. cafeduet.jpg

It was uplifting to hear the sweet voice of young Janie. Because of her disability, which I was guessing was cerebral palsy, she was assisted by Joyce (her mother or guardian) while she sang. “I have butterflies,” she confessed before beginning a duet of three songs. (Of course, we all shared that we had butterflies as well, after that.)

Young Chris wheeled over in his wheel chair and told a few jokes. Rosemary read Rumi, Greg read about motorcycling, and nine year old Kayla added some comic relief, reading the poetry of Shel Silverstein, such as "The Battle." Would you like to hear … Of the terrible night … When I bravely fought the---- No? … All right.

Case closed. We all broke for cookies and poetic fellowship.

Post note: Mara was still carrying around her basket of homemade cookies and sharing them the next day at our Writer’s Circle meeting. Photos: 1. Arden reads. 2. Sally, cafe owner, introduces a reader. 3. Greg reads. 4. Janie and Joyce sing. Click and scroll down to read more about Floyd's Spoken Word Night HERE.


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Everytime you write about one of these nights, I want to be there.

Those lights made me think of little space ships. Cool pic! Now I'm off to read your "lament".


Little Janie looks so sweet....I love the light flickering off the windows....I am sure it was a very moving, emotional night.

I always want to go to these when you write about them. You have an amazing community.

That first photograph is amazing, Colleen. I always love reading about your spoken-word nights.

Do you read 37 Days? Patti has really been celebrating National Poetry Month over there. In addition to sharing some wonderful poetry, she's a gifted writer herself and I always find something that makes me think when I read her blog.

I'm impressed by the event as well as the setting. Looks like a great place. Are you in the same Floyd as Mr. Ripples? http://ripples.typepad.com/

I was very taken by the scene out the window mixed with what was reflected in window and so happy it translated pretty well in the photo. I thought of UFOs too.

I do read 37 days (but need to more regularly) and have so much respect for Patti.

Yes, Mr. Ripples and his wife live this very same Floyd (moved here about a year ago). Two other Floyd bloggers are Fred http://fragmentsfromfloyd.com and Doug http://blueridgemuse.com.

Someday you're wonderful Spoken Mic night will happen when I'm not committed to something else. Sounds extra-special this time!

Another one without me...damn. Ah well probably for the better this time around.

In response to your comment on one of my entrie: Blogging is becomeing a kind of therapy for me so I have to take to it well.

Miss ya.

Thank you for sharing the poems that were shared with you at the cafe. I especially found the words of Mara, moving and true. Comfort food. Rising bread like a phoenix of hope.

Thank you for coming by my blog and allowing me to meet you. I have found a new favorite in your writing.

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