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Passions in Poetry

Digital Passions
Poetry Magazine

Digital Passions #6
published November 15, 2000


Editor's Column by Karilea Jungel (Sunshine)
Writer's Resources by Nicole Boyd
Thanksgiving Poetry  Lone Wolf
Interview with Poertree by Christopher Ward
After the Murder of my Wife by Poertree
The Final Word by Poet deVine

* Bonus Features

Beatnik Era by JP Burns
My Creative Writing Class by Deborah Carter
Poetry Readings by Sven

* Bonus Poetry & Prose

Friendship Poetry selected by Elizabeth
Love Poetry selected by Irish Rose
Sad Poetry selected by Karen A.A. Hood
Teen Poetry selected by Krista Knutson
Spiritual Poetry selected by Marge Tindal
Short Fiction selected by Dopey Dope

Read It All (one big page)

Creative Writing Class Friendship Poetry

Poetry Readings: A Personal Experience
By: Sven

Imagine, if you will, a Passions with voice files. Think about the way the voice of the author reading their work would make you feel. Would they read it out loud the same way that you perceived it in your mind? Would they emphasize the same words that you do? Have the same phrasing? Probably not, as everyone interprets poetry differently.

This is the idea behind a poetry reading. It translates the written word into sound. It gives us an idea of not only what the poet is thinking and feeling, but also how they would like us to read and interpret their poetry.

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I had never been to a poetry reading until these past few weeks, when I attended several, in various venues, with various individuals and in contrasted formats. It was interesting to see and hear not only the way the poets read their poetry, but also to see how we, as members of the audience, interacted with them.
It was held at the library of Michigan State University...

The first type of reading that I attended was a reading with discussion, questions and answers. It was held at the library of Michigan State University, given by a writer who wrote mainly prose, but was so influenced by one of his teachers so much that he turned to poetry into a "side" occupation. He was quite good at it, having won prizes and having three of his collections published by the University Press.

Predictably, there were many students in attendance, most of them there to get extra class credit. There were also those who liked to think of themselves as "intellectual" types, there to obtain the "deeper" meaning of what the poet was saying. Then, there were those of us, like me, who were merely there for the sheer enjoyment of hearing someone read their work.

The author began by giving us some personal background, and then began to read samples of his work. He seemed to read very quickly, almost too fast for most of us to really hear what he was saying. It was probably because he was fighting a cold that he read in this manner. But we all sat there, listening intently, and applauding after every work was completed.

  "No, it's just a poem about my dog, who happens to be yellow."

When he had completed the reading portion of the event, we next turned to the question and answer session. There were the usual types of questions: "How did you get started?" "What made you decide to write poetry?" Then there were the deep questions like: "Do you feel that you used the dog in your poem 'Yellow Dog' as a metaphor for man's struggle against the Industrial Revolution?" (Really, this was an actual question.) To which the author, quite pleasingly, said, "No, it's just a poem about my dog, who happens to be yellow." Which drew laughter and applause from the audience. Finally, a writer who writes about things we could identify with!

After the reading was over, I got an opportunity to talk to the poet for a moment, and took that time to ask him if he felt that there was a "death" of the writing of "form" poetry, and were more poets now turning toward free verse? He said that he felt that there was somewhat of a death of this and that he tried to write in a mix of form and free verse. He also hoped that more poets would learn about writing in forms to become better poets.

I went to a couple of more readings in this venue. They were about the same, with the poet reading his own work, questions and answers with the audience, and of course, sales of the poet's latest book, which could be autographed.

I wondered about the literature these poets read. Who were their influences growing up? It would have been very interesting to have the poets read poems that influenced them. To see how the creative process begins. To see how they interpreted them. One of them did read something from another poet, but it was merely to illustrate the poem of their own that they were going to read, not that it was an influence.

The next type of reading that I attended was an "Open Mic" type of reading, held at a local bookstore. Here, poets sign up beforehand to have a few minutes to read their own work, but also anything else they like. As it said in the advertisement for the reading, "Read your own work, read another person's work, or even read the Phone Book." The people attending this reading were, of course, poets themselves, their friends, and anyone who happened to be walking through the bookstore and wondering what we were doing.

It can be very nerve wracking to get up in front of a group of people and read a poem, let alone your own writing.

It can be very nerve wracking to get up in front of a group of people and read a poem, let alone your own writing. I was very nervous when I arrived to sign up. Complicating matters, it turned out that they were not going to have a microphone set up for us. We were told to "project, and speak very loudly." This did not make things easier on everyone's nerves. I mean, personally, it is one thing to take that first step and post our work at Passions. You generally hear from people that like your work, but it was entirely another thing to get up in front of people and read it. To see how they would react to what I was reading. Would they like it? Would I be able to be loud enough? Would they understand it?

As the time got closer for me to read my work, I became even more nervous. Then they called my name. I was introduced as "a new Lansing poet," something that made me stop and chuckle for a moment. Imagine, being introduced as a "poet."

When I approached the designated area, I now noticed that there were indeed quite a few people in attendance, close to 50 or so. I took a deep breath and began by greeting the audience. I then read the one poem I had prepared.

It's a funny thing that being up there in front of all those people, I found myself surprisingly calm. I read my work loud enough, and even made eye contact with the audience. They were paying attention. They were concentrating on what I was saying. Part of me even believed some of them were hanging on my every word.

The poem finished, they applauded and I thanked them and went back to my seat. Relieved that it was over, but surprisingly finding myself wishing that I had read more.

Some of the poets read prose. One of them read favorite poems. A storyteller read from Shel Silverstein's "Where the Sidewalk Ends," reminding us that it was the 25th anniversary of the publication of that work. All in all, it was a very enjoyable time, one that I look forward to doing again.

She introduced herself as the editor for a local literary magazine, and invited me to submit the poem that I read at the reading...

A personal note: after the Open Mic reading was over; a few people approached me. They stopped by to say that they really enjoyed my reading and my work, one of them even wanted me to e-mail them a copy of it. There was one woman, however, who had a little more to say. She introduced herself as the editor for a local literary magazine, and invited me to submit the poem that I read at the reading, as well as at least one other poem to her for consideration to be published. This was something I never expected. I won't know until early next year if my submissions will be accepted, but it was enough to be asked to submit.

I would encourage everyone to go to a poetry reading in your area. They're usually mentioned in the local newspaper, or at local bookstores. If you live near a university or college, check with the libraries or the English departments to see if they hold any readings. If you live where these kinds of events are not held, why not try to have one of your own? Talk to your local library or High School English Departments, invite people to come and read not only their own work, but also whatever they would like to read. You might be pleasantly surprised.