Some days everything comes together — idea, expectation, execution — and you say ahhhh.
This year, as a complement to the Denver County Fair poetry contest, I introduced Poems-Write-Now, an on-demand poetry booth. Thanks to the skill and enthusiasm of a team of poets, it worked just as imagined — and, well, actually, better!
Poets sat ready, pens poised and minds open as "customers" stopped by to give a topic and get a poem. A man wanted a poem about cats. A woman asked for a poem about chocolate. A brother and sister requested a poem about siblings. There were poems about kayaks, sunsets, freaks, geeks, insomnia, parades, pie (and pi — in the same poem!), and more.
Customers were asked to pay what they could, and 100% of proceeds went to a local literary organization (this year, Art from Ashes).
Poets wrote under pressure, composing full poems in under 15 minutes. While customers wandered away, poets went swiftly to work, drafting on-the-spot, quickly scratching out and into a full and finished piece, then copying the poem onto a clean sheet and stamping the poem with the official "Denver County Fair Poem" seal. The pressure, combined with spontaneous creativity, was exhilarating.
When the customer returned, the poet shared the poem aloud, and a powerful exchange occurred, a wonderful charge of expectation, surprise, and delight. So moved was one customer that she cried. Others were confounded. How did you do that, they asked. And how did you write so fast?
"I enjoyed the challenge and it turned out to be a lot of fun," said poet Ginny Hoyle, who was joined by a host of other poets — Kathryn Bass, Eduardo Gabrieloff, Hilary DePolo, Lynn Wagner, Dan Manzanares, and more — each working one to two hour shifts. "It’s just the kind of thing that can demonstrate that poetry is fun and alive and now."
Lucky me, I got to be both participating poet and patron of poetry. Here's a poem made-just-for-me, written by Ginny Hoyle, in response to the topic "sun":
To read the sun is to mark
the course of days. To know
the sun by its angle of repose is to be a creature
of the high plains.
This much she knows. She needs that bright heat
sun that sinks and stirs the blood. She lies
in the light, her hungry mind shielded
by a spine, buried under the covers of
a hardbound book that takes off like
a redtailed hawk, soaring over fields
of daisies fringed in white.
— Ginny Hoyle
Aug 3 2014
This poem is such a perfect fit that I think Ginny, whom I'd never met, is an unusually intuitive poet.
On this Thankful Thursday, I am energized and thankful for poets and pressure, and people who make poems and people who want poems.
Gratitude. Appreciation. Praise. Please join me for Thankful Thursday, a weekly pause to give thanks for people, places, and things in our lives. What are you thankful for today?