End of the season retrospective
It's the end of the 08-09 Spirit Lake Poetry Series. As I had said, very fine poets throughout and the performances were all quite good - so while I may have missed a bit of variety regionally speaking, there was good diversity and high caliber poetry in the readings. Each reading also seemed to draw a slightly different crowd, so it was also interesting to see the variety in audiences who appreciate poetry in the area. It'll be a challenge and opportunity to continue to engage those audiences for 09-10!
As part of the Duluth Homegrown Music Festival Arts Night, Devin McKinnon worked a fine model for reaching out to multiple audiences through his organization of the Poetry Showcase. McKinnon drew a diverse crowd by recruiting diverse poets of varying styles, backgrounds, experience, ages, familiarity, etc. Gothic, Slam, Caribbean, Confessional, Humorous, Psychedelic, Lyrical and even one poem that was rigidly within a rhymed form - a limerick.
Ok, so now that I've pigeonholed some very fine poets, I apologize. There was a sense of desire and urgency - pleading and thanking: for relationships, for chances, for love, for peace, for understanding, for answers. With 13 poets reading for their interpretation of 5-7 minutes, there was a lot of poetry shared, metaphors crafted, f-bombs dropped in clusters, wry jokes levied, stunning images unleashed, voices leveled/raised/hushed, and muses left over-satiated.
Moments of personal note:
Patrick McKinnon's ferocity in his delivery reminding how to embody the poem, not just read it aloud.
Bob Monahan showing how to make small things big and then small again.
Amanda Teague, who I dubbed Ophelia Bohemia, showing that gothic poetry has a definite place, especially in a stellar delivery (made me think of Brock-Broido and further back).
Ben Fleissner's tribute to a poet no longer with us was personal, exquisite and neared the sublime.
Liz Minette used such great images and sense of scene that the audience was drawn into the scene so much that they were startled to find the poem over.
Ben Boylan delivered some delicious psychedelic images and some meta-poetry, excited in the act of language.
Trevor Kaldor delivered slam-styled love poems that swelled with real-life and maturity as well as humor and sincerity.
Paul Lundgren talked about lost underwear in ways that exposed relationships, taboos, and how we create stories by which we judge each other based off of rather trivial pieces of evidence all said and told. It also made me resolve to take better care of my laundry.
Kyle Eldon(sp?) read quietly, quickly and confidently focusing on the inner-resolve negotiating with outer-forces.
Jay Benson, a slam poet not heard from for a while came back in form with an extended piece detailing his experiences for the past few years- gritty, emotional, detailing addiction, poverty and vulnerability.
Devin McKinnon dedicated his reading to his father: very moving in the way he opened his emotions of sadness, anger and confusion. How can we say it's ok when we know it's not?
Sheila Packa drew on both mythology and the ice of the lake for evocative images and left me with one of the phrases that stood out: "is it love if it can't dance?"
And Ellie Schoenfeld rhymed venus in a limerick, spoke of the consumption of dark honey and how we are never far from an accident that could be something miraculous, even if the miracle, a coffee stain is somewhat dubious in its minorness.
Keeping over 50 people in a dark room for over 2hrs to listen to poetry may seem like a sociology experiment that needs an ethics review, but, for me and the majority of the people there, it was a pleasure. Thank you Devin, thank you poets, that you Homegrown, thank you Comic Pit Orchestra (for providing the great music that complimented each poet - showing how adept they are at improvisation by keying in on rhythms and tones almost instantaneously!), and thank you Duluth for setting in which this is all possible.