Tonight I went to a poetry reading at the local Women’s Civic Center. Things were kicked off by Harley Elliott, an accomplished man who lives in Salina – about an hour away.
His poems often talk about Kansas, and what living in Kansas is about. One of my favorites of his was not one he read tonight, but you can read it at http://skyways.lib.ks.us/poetry/waking.html.
He is an engaging personality, and always a crowd favorite.
He was followed by Amy Fleury, a poet who lives in Topeka. I was really touched by her poetry. One particular line really stuck with me – “he sang her a song she’d been wanting to hear.” Every woman who has ever had a relationship can relate to that.
Fleury’s work, “Beautiful Trouble” was published by SIU press in September of last year. She got high praise for it, including the following from the US Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner, Ted Kooser.
“The minute I finished ‘Beautiful Trouble,’ I wished I had copies to give to all my friends: To the poets, of course, who will admire it for its art, but also to those who don’t read poetry. Fleury proves that a book of poems need not be baffling or condescending or self-absorbed. With ordinary words placed with perfect precision, this book throws open dozens of windows onto fresh new ways of seeing, and loving, the world.”
Denise Low came next. She was very animated and told wonderful stories that put her poems into context. One of my favorites that she read played off the Apache belief that a dead person’s things could be “haunted” by that person’s essence, called “Gernonimo’s Boots.”
This was the first event held at the Civic Center in a long time. The building had been slated to be torn down. Trish has taken it on as a project to save it. It’s going to be the new home of the Reno County Arts and Humanities Council, a board I’ve joined recently.
After Denise, John Eberly and his wife, Catherine, provided some musical entertainment. John is someone I’ve known for years through other people. In the last few months, I’ve gotten to know him better.
I had not heard Catherine sing and she has a beautiful voice. Just lovely, clear tones.
Afterwards we heard from two local poets, both of whom are well known in their own rights.
First up was Bill Sheldon. He grew up in Western Kansas, but now lives here. His poems were geared toward that.
There was a workshop earlier today, but I couldn’t go as I was at a wedding. One of the topics was to consider new slogans for Kansas. One Bill joked about was “Expect Less.”
The scheduled part of the evening ended with Steven Hind, who taught at Hutchinson Community College for many years. He evoked laughter from the audience a number of times, as well as some other emotions. One line that really stuck with me was in a poem about his dad. The line was about “this place he had been given, that he had chosen.” That really stuck with me because we do all choose where we are at in so many ways literal and figurative.
All in all it was a wonderful evening. We were treated to two more poets who were in the audience tonight and got up to read their work. Both had the audience engaged and laughing.
Jocelyn came tonight, too. So, it was fun to see her. We’ve spent part of the day together off and on since this morning when we did wedding set up, then the actual wedding, and than tonight’s event.
I’m ready to turn in. It has been a long day. I’ll post wedding pix as soon as I get a chance.