At one end of Main Street in Franklin, Tennessee sits a two-story building with white columns, canvas awnings, an American flag and tables and chairs on the sidewalk. Last Thursday night, the sandwich board out front read “Poetry Reading, 7:00”. It was almost that time when Joe and I went into Landmark Booksellers, so we quickly looked around, then left for a hurried dinner so we could return as soon after 7 as possible.
The session was about half over when we came back, but the ladies (no men there except the shop owner and Joe) were gracious and included us into the group. The woman in charge asked each participant in turn to read something they’d brought. Some read their own poetry, others read from a book or a copied poem.
This was the first poetry reading we had attended and it was different than what I expected. I suppose my only previous exposure to this type of event was watching the lampoons in old movies, in which beatnik types read obscure nonsensical verse and the audience clapped by clicking their fingers. That’s not what was happening at Landmark.
Four of the poems have remained with me; I didn’t take notes because I didn’t know the protocol and didn’t want to do something gauche. I wish I’d at least written down the titles and the authors. The four were about:
a Scottish isle where monks live,
shadows in the barn (the author wrote this one for a friend whose horse had recently died),
in my former life, and
These are what I call them in my mind, because (as I said), I don’t know the true ones. The moderator advised the author of “in my former life” to make it a bit more concise and leave it to the listener to fill it out. I know very little about poetry, but this made a lot of sense.
Of all that I remember, “When” struck me with such familiarity that I wish I had written it. The author described what life would be like when ____ happened. I don’t remember what her ____ was, but I know what mine is. When I’m feeling better, when my bills are paid, when my family is healed, etc.
My last experience with poetry was about 5 years ago, a local library asked me to sit on a panel which judged entries for cowboy poems. That was an enjoyable experience and encouraged me to think of poetry in a whole new light and that maybe it was something that I could do.
I’ll be looking around for other opportunities to share with others a love of reading and literature and yes, even poetry.
*I apologize for the blurriness of the pictures. Architectural details are much easier for me to photograph – they are not living and breathing and moving around.