My involvement with the Springfield, Illinois poetry community has diminished in recent weeks due to circumstances I will not describe in print. This retrograde turn has sullied and soured a great deal of my life, my life-long love of poetry writing/reciting and songwriting/performing has not diminished. I decided to attend This is POETRY at Springfield’s Legacy Theater because, from the look of their public relations material, the group renting the theater for the night had a good handle on a part of the poetry scene I knew nothing about.
Pictures here are thmbnailed. Click on any for a larger image and back to return to the blog.
All pictures posted here were taken by, yours truly, Job Conger.
I was surprised (the word “DISAPOINTED” doesn’t begin to say what I really felt) to find the hostess was a drag queen who could as likely be your postman or accountant when not “dolled up” for theatrical productions. I felt I had come to what I thought would be a program of poetry only to discover that the main event was a sheep that could count to ten with its fore hooves and dance to Johnny Cash tunes on two legs. I didn’t “get” the point of it. That said, he seemed to know what he was doing. He takes his art (?) seriously.
Comedian Mike Bryant also performed. The saving grace of his performance was that the sound was so muddy and reverberating in the Legacy Theater’s basement that I could hardly understand a word that was said. It might have been that my seat was in the wrong place or — equally likely — that my hearing is going south on me, and I can’t hear as well as I did when I was younger . Others in the large hard-floored area seemed to laugh occasionally. It did not seem a particularly supportive, tuned in crowd. The hour from 6 to 7s was the opening part of the night, attended by probably fewer than 200 of us who paid $15 for the opportunity to have some beer or wine and mingle, to buy books from the book sellers.
All early show attendees were given a copy of This Is Poetry a well produced anthology with another “surprising” title. Billy Collins, one of my FAVE bards, wrote a book titled The Trouble With Poetry which I purchased, looking forward to reading what I THOUGHT would be a light-hearted “critique” of contemporary poetry. To my surprise the book was a collection of his recent poems, and not a bad read at all, but not what I expected. There is no disputing that between the covers of This Is Poetry are poems. Since the promised book coincided with the event that featured poets from New Hampshire to California, I anticipated an anthology of poems written by the participating poets. Instead, it’s an anthology of poems by women poets. I don’t know if Lady Jasmine is included; haven’t looked yet. There’s no question it’s a well-produced book, and I’ll share a review of it, and all the other books I purchased, here at Honey & Quinine.
As the floor show continued I visited the booksellers on the landing. The sponsoring organization permitted me to place some of my “folksinger” cards, poetry performance brochures and Vachel Lindsay Historic Site brochures on their table. I also encountered my friend Jeremiah Walton setting up his sale area for books donated to his Books and Shovels mobile bookstore. To be sure I could occupy a good seat for photographing the poets. I headed upstairs to the very nicely arranged theater about 6:50. About 35 minutes later, the 7:00 show began.
The rest of this post is pictures and captions. Anyone who can identify poets I do not identify is welcome to name them in comments following the end of this post. Poets I considered un-photographable because of microphone placement and a few times because their sharing of their craft simply didn’t make a positive impression, are not included here.
It was late, I was tired, hadn’t eaten a thing all day and my camera battery was about dead. So, to avoid further imprinting of visions of Lady Jasmine on my liberal-but-squirming bray-een, I didn’t stay for the second half of the show. As I departed Legacy Theater I encountered elements two and three of “the traveling bookstore trio” and chatted with them before heading home to dinner.
It had been an evening to remember, and I promise to support any return of the sponsoring organization to the Legacy Theater. KUDOS to all who attended and everyone who was a part of This is POETRY.
Thanks for reading this post.
Live long . . . . and proper.