Friday, April 8, 2011

Quoth, the Poet

It’s Friday.  The second Friday of the month, to be precise.  For most months, that means Poet’s Night at the Progress Energy Art Gallery in New Port Richey, Florida.  We do this on the second and fourth Friday of most months.
It has special significance today, however, for two reasons.  Instead of bringing our own work to read, we’re to bring something that has influenced us or our individual writing style, or perhaps just got us to lake a second look at poetry more advanced than Mary Had a Little Lamb, or Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.  Please take a moment to note the strikingly familiar rhythmic mechanism of both of the aforementioned poems.  You can swap out alternating lines of the poem in every other line couplets, and it still fits.  Sadly, even some adult poets, writing for adult readers have never moved beyond this simple rhyming form.  Kindly hold that thought for a moment.  I promise I’ll come back to it, but I have a rabbit to chase.
This particular Friday is significant for another reason.  It marks the thirty-third anniversary of the birth of my first child, Jennifer.  It is difficult for me to accept that so many years have passed since that cool Virginia day when she quietly entered the world, effectively changing my world forever, but there it is.  One year and seventeen days later, she would join us in welcoming a sister to share her youthful exuberance.   Happily neither one killed the other.  Happy Birthday, Jenn.  I Love You and I am very proud of you.  And I pray for you daily.
Now, as promised, back to the topic at hand.
The meeting tonight will be drawn short because some of that number present will be leaving to attend a film festival at a nearby theatre.  I shan’t be joining them for a variety of reasons, none of which merit any real consideration to anyone other than myself.  Additionally, I will be getting copies of the submissions for the Gallery’s Annual Poetry Contest, for which I have been asked to be a judge.
This caveat, of course, presents a conundrum directly related to the nature of the twice-monthly meetings.  This group is a reading and applauding group rather than a critique group.  Some of the poetry read is indeed very good.  Some of it, not so much, and therein do it lie, the problem, and I include myself in this latter group of literary affectation.  I personally find my own work to be, shall we say, appreciably underwhelming.
But that is the point.  I don’t want to be booed or laughed out of the room, but neither to I want self-aggrandizement for literary bovine excrement.  I would rather someone say “Um, boy-o, that seems to be missing something”, or, “that made about as much sense as beach blankets at the south pole” than to subject someone to the painful endurance of  the bloody thing, and applauding politely at the end!
Of course, this requires that those in attendance grasp that the offering is more of the  house of Able than that of Cain, if you catch my use of the metaphorical.  And this group does get it!  But each week we read and each week we give and receive polite applause.
So, do you see my enigma?  Do I read and applaud politely, employ the use of a digital applause meter with built in memory, and simply see which one got the loudest or most prolific applause, and declare that the winner, or look at the submissions with a more critical eye.   Will this work be that of someone whose mother said it was good, and who therefore expects at the least a Pulitzer nomination, or will these be the attendant efforts of serious poets looking to hone their craft?  Or, will it be the work of both, therefore requiring the separation of wheat from chaff before the real selection can begin?  And what of the other judges?  How will they approach this project?
One can only hope that when I am handed my stack of hopeful entries, a set of criteria will be included.
Oh, what the heck.  I’m going for the throat, but will have medical aid on hand for the frail of heart.
Happy Trails.

PS – I’m bringing The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe as the piece that most influenced me to write poetry.  That and possibly something by Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz I have hanging around he house.
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