Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Beauty of Poetry Salons - Susan Rich reads in Port Townsend




Last Wednesday, I was invited to a Poetry Salon with Susan Rich. 

If you don't know what a poetry salon is, it's the new in-thing for poets.

Why?

Because poetry salons don't just offer poetry, but all the other things good things in life--good food, people who are interested in the arts, wine, a warm cozy environment (usually someone's home) and to me what feels like an up-close-and-personal evening with not just poems, but the poet as well.

What I like about poetry salons is that they invite a whole new group of people who wouldn't necessarily attend a poetry reading in a bookstore, but mixed with wine and food and a comfy place to sit, they are non-threatening to people who do not read poetry.


What I like about them is--

1)  The poet is around to talk with before and after the reading.

**** Susan chatted with guests before the reading for about an hour then read at 7:30 pm for about 30-35 minutes.

2)  They feel more intimate than a reading at a bookstore because it's in a home.

****I sat with friends on the sofa and snacked on Trader Joe's sesame-covered almonds.  That alone is worth having a reading outside a bookstore!


3)  They expand of the audience for poetry

****The host of the poetry salon invites his/her friends to this gathering.  It is a wonderful way to introduce poetry to people who aren't in the poetry community or who never buy books of poems.

4)  You can arrive with friends, but meet new people.

5)  The food, drink, and atmosphere.

****Really, poetry on this level, having it read to you while you are in someone's home makes it feel as if it's part of your essence and your life on another level.  It's sort of like hearing live music at a party, it brings you to a more inspired place.

Susan's reading was one of the best I heard.  People who have never heard poetry were responding to her poems--a huge compliment--and those of us who do read poetry recognized that this was one of those evenings that we could keep with us for a while.  This would be an evening we could return to when the washing machine broke, when we were stuck in traffic, when we felt disconnected from the artistic life, we could still say-- Remember that night, the vase of hydrangeas, the ginger cookies, and the poems filling the room?

Ah yes, we do.

It takes us back to a moment and ultimately, I believe that is what poetry is supposed to do.  The salons just get us in the mood a little more quickly and allow us to see poetry for the joy it is--not the job, career, work--but the joy of the spoken word and a group of strangers who gathered to listen.

Thank you Susan for a lovely evening.


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3 comments:

Maureen said...

I hope Susan will one day come East where I live (in Virginia, outside D.C.). I'd love to host an evening with her reading.

The last time I attended such an evening was a New Year's Eve, when, after a lovely supper, each of us read a poem related to the New Year's coming. It was great fun and memorable for many reasons, especially the poetry shared that night.

Susan Rich said...

Thanks, Kelli -- it was a wonderful night because of a fantastic audience! And Maureen, Kelli and I both expect to be at AWP in DC next February. Perhaps we can meet you there?

Midge said...

I wish I could've been there! I love the photo -- poet, wineglass, flowers -- that says it all! :)

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