Poetry Social: "Traditions"

I’m really fortunate to work in a place that allows me to utilize my talents and passions in my job–one of those passions being poetry. About four months ago, I started hosting a monthly poetry event at the library. A college town, Lawrence is kind of known for its artistic community, and I figured there would be a large audience for something poetry related. I approached my colleague, the adult programming librarian, about developing the event, knowing she was looking to increase the number of adult programs. I had originally envisioned an open mic reading each month, and maybe inviting a professional or published poet in every know and then. My colleague suggested we give it a unique name–the Poetry Social–and come up with a theme for each reading to inspire the participants. Our first Poetry Social was held in September with the theme, “Migrations.”

Each month, while I’m sitting in the gallery waiting for people to show up, I admit I get a little disheartened as the clock ticks closer and closer to the start time while only a few people walk in. However, by the end of the event, I’m always impressed with the works and conversations shared. There’s a core group of people that have come to each one, and I can tell that they appreciate an outlet for their creativity. Some of them drive twenty or more minutes to participate, and I always make sure to express my gratitude for their presence. Tonight’s Poetry Social on the theme “Traditions” was no different. A last minute scheduling of an author visit bumped the event from its original location in the gallery, and I thought that might deter some attendees, but my faithful regulars still showed ready to share.

I started tonight’s social by showing the participants some of the poetry resources we have at the library, having pulled some collections and the current Poet’s Market before the event began. Then, to spark some creativity, I played a winter meditation video from Youtube and instructed the participants to use the music and visuals as a writing prompt. When that ended, I invited the participants to share, and even though there were only five, we were there for about 45 minutes enjoying each other’s poetry and thoughts. I appreciate how fitting the name we came up with for the event, Poetry Social, has come to be. Each poem sparked conversation, and we shared in a discussion on when each of us began writing. When we ran out of work to share, I thanked everyone for coming and closed the evening with my own product of the writing prompt:

Winter Meditation

All around me
naked trees stretch their limbs
in directions akimbo,
bearing testimony to
winter’s harsh touch.

Icy cold fingers
dance and trip
down the notches in my spine
as my breath
heavy and moist
escapes my lips
like fog lifting into
the blue and endless expanse
of a frost bitten sky
above me.

A leaf in the snow,
my mind frozen
as I lose myself in
the season’s
white noise.

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