Monday, July 04, 2005

Poetry on the Fourth of July

What a great day. With the Fourth of July holiday falling on a Monday, I was a bit off-kilter today. I'm not sure what it was, but it seemed like an extra weekend day, perhaps because it was.

I started off the day meeting up with some other local poets over at Virginia Beach's new Towne Center for a reading of poems associated with independence and our great country. Listening to Pete Freas, I was reminded that poets lead revolutions and that as great as our country is, it is still flawed... or perhaps that should be, as flawed as our country is, it is still great.

Anyway, I read a couple of my poems, including "The Road North" which connects a trip up Route 1 at night with slaves escaping on the Underground Railroad.

I arrived a bit late and found Nathan reciting one of his poems about militants... or should I say about someone claiming to be militant but actually a non-participant. It was a moving poem recited with intensity.
Bill, a retired English professor from Norfolk State (who reminded me of my old English professor and writing coach Jim Miller), read several poems, including one about a heart attack he had a decade ago. After recovering he was at home reviewing the list of visitors to his sick bed, and he discovered that 2/3 of the folks who came to see him were white... a heart, friendship, honor: all these have no sense of color.
Another poet reading today was Dave; I like his work. It's very narrative, and resonnates with person and place. One poem he read today was about his brother playing with toy soldiers and comparing this to an artist copying a great painting. I don't do it justice.

We also heard other voices. Pete read a letter from Lincoln, Nathan read King's "I have a dream" speech. Edith read a couple of poems that captured a sense of the times we face today, even though they were written thirty years ago; I don't remember who the poet was she read, sadly.Pete and the Chesapeake Bay Poets are going to sponsor the event again next year. I could see it becoming a yearly tradition: the spoken word reminds us of where we have been, where we are, and where we want to be.

1 comment:

  1. How to be Keith Peffer During the Morning

    You have a 9:30 class. It's good to leave the apartment around 9 since you'll be walking to class; the 10-15 minute walk is relaxing and some of the only exercise/sunlight you'll get in the day, but, before all this, you have to wake up. 8:00 am, then you reset the alarm for 8:05, then tell yourself you'll take a quick shower, and set it for 8:10, then you come up with some strange theory that you cannot remember now and set the alarm for 8:13...

    So at 8:13 you get to the shower, shave, dry off, and realize that it's Tuesday- you have to look spiffy for your management class later in the day. All you have to do is get a nice shirt and that pair of khakis that you meticulously ironed and hung up a week ago, right? But they're wrinkled, so you dress down to a pair of only slightly gaudy cargo pants and a button down plaid shirt.

    Breakfast consists of a 1/4 of quiche lorraine and a cup of coffee. The quiche is heavy like a bag of sand, so it's an effort to stand up out of your chair and go pour the coffee, but you succeed. "Oh, it's 9 now..." What are we learning in Diff Eq today? Power series? Brian's words enter my head "Power series is easy, just really time consuming." Well, sounds to me like it'd be better to blog than go to class.

    Keith Peffer, the curiously strong sonofabitch.