There’s a thing that happens in poetry readings—besides the poetry, of course. It’s the collective sigh/murmur that happens at the end of a poem. It becomes, in a way, a soft punctuation, a breathy honouring of an inspired choice of words and pauses.
It’s not unlike the sound you make when you bite into something particularly delicious, or set down your fork when it’s finished. It’s like the sigh that escapes after that first sip of Sunday morning coffee has reached your lips, or your moan of pleasure when the chocolate cheesecake is everything you hoped it would be.
April is National Poetry Month, and this year the Poets League of Canada has declared a theme of Food & Poetry. In a way, it’s an opportunity to say thank you to poets for cooking up such essential nutrition for our hearts, minds, and souls.
Poetry is as accessible as an apple, no matter what you may have been lead to believe about poetic hifalutin-ness. Think of poetry as mindful literary consumption (because you know you’re going to really taste that apple if you slow down and pay attention). Poetry brings out the flavor of words.
Your Library loves poetry— in April and all year ’round—and we celebrate it in myriad ways. Last week, teens got together at the Library to play with words, and you can too all month by making book spine poetry. Find our display near the new books and rearrange the spines with an eye to poetic pithiness.
The intent is not to trivialize the craft, but rather to demonstrate poetic accessibility. Just as reading poetry feeds us, writing it—from scratch, or as “found poetry” such as this—is nourishing. So give it a try (at the library or at home), take a photo, email it to us (firstname.lastname@example.org). We’ll print them and put them up, and you might win a prize.
Across from our circulation desk you’ll find a jam-packed display for Read Local BC, including a healthy selection of local poets. And of course 811.54 is your place to go for the full smorg of poetry collections.
We’re celebrating, too, with a special event. On Tuesday, April 21 at 7pm join us for an evening of poetry with Ontario poet Ellen S. Jaffe and Nelson poet Jane Byers, who appear thanks to the Canada Council for the Arts and the League of Canadian Poets.
Ellen’s newest book, Skinny Dipping with the Muse, was published by Guernica Editions, and Jane’s book, Steeling Effects, was published by Caitlin Press, both books in 2014. Interestingly, both poets took a look at their collections and found a surprising number of references to food, kitchens and cooking.
Kicking off the evening is a Nelson slam poetry regular, spoken word poet Damian John. I love performance poetry—which is spoken rather than read—and love the journey I find myself on whenever I become immersed in that particular poetic stew. I’m looking forward to Damian’s poetic take on poetry.
There will be food, of course—we always have good munchies at literary readings—and there will be food for thought. Come out and see if you don’t find yourself joining into that collective murmur-sigh at the conclusion of each new offering of sweet or savoury words.
So why that post-poem sound? Maybe it’s because folks who go to poetry readings (which I hope is about to become you, too, if you are among the uninitiated) know that clapping after each poem would be an unforgivably jarring thing. Instead, the murmur is how we say: wow. Or perhaps: delicious. In fact, if you listen, the sound is a whole lot like mmmmmm.
Anne DeGrace is the Adult Services Coordinator at the Nelson Public Library. Check This Out runs every other week. For more information go to www.nelsonlibrary.ca.