The last time I read poetry at a Reading, there were three people in the crowd: my boyfriend, my friend Cory, and a random guy who wandered into the basement looking for the history section. This past Sunday, I was up on stage looking out at about sixty people reading my poems. What a rush. I think the greatest thing about the Moving Poetry Competition Reading, was that all the winners were different. It was amazing to listen to the variety of subjects. One of poets was inspired by her past with activism, another with her Bulgarian in-laws and their experiences buying bread. I've always believed that poetry is one of those elusive things that you can't define. Can anyone really wrap their fingers around what a good poem is? I've heard lyrical, academic poets with translations from other languages and strong imagery in their poems. And then I've heard poets that are so literal, every line holds a play of words for double meaning. And it all speaks volumes I think. There's a a Billy Collin's poem called Introduction to Poetry, that I really think examines this issue well. Sometimes, people think that you have to dig for the meaning in a poem, and dissect it line by line, and if you can't do that, it's not a good poem. I disagree. I think poetry varies more than other branches of fiction. And part of understanding poetry, is knowing that sometimes you won't understand poems.
Either way, I had a blast reading. I got to a ten minute set. It was amazing afterwards to have complete strangers come up to me and say that they enjoyed my eyeball poem, or that they enjoyed using extraneous commas too. I even got a high five from the waiter! In the end, it was a great experience, and I was touched by how many people showed up to support me. Thank you Arlington Writer's Group, you rock! Anyways, I'll end here with one of the poems I read, "the eyeball poem" as it became called the rest of the night.
Westside Market: The Butcher's Stand
by Jess E. Stork
Passing among the market stands,
they locked your gaze.
The raw lamb heads
staring out of the glass display case.
They were missing skin
like a lost sock
that disappears in the dryer.
hanging loose in the eye sockets.
It was as if the heads had simply,
wandered by and decided
to rest their chins
among the kielbasa
and chorizo sausage.
The butcher swiped a hand across her apron
and told me
they made fine stews
a treat that are juicy at first bite.
I wondered if while simmering,
the eyeballs rose to the top of the broth
and blinked in the steam,
with one last
defiant glance to the word.