Sunday, March 22, 2009

Portsmouth Reading

I've been back in Norfolk for a week and a half. I guess it's nice to be back to my grown-up autonomous life. I like what I'm learning in my classes, and I like teaching.

My class has been in a weird funk, though, lately. Their attendance has been dropping, and their quiz grades are tanking. Is it me? I've tried using fun videos in class and asking for their suggestions, but nothing seems to fix it. When I asked for suggestions, most students said I was doing fine. (One said we should do all the reading in class. Heh. Good luck with that, kid.) Oh, well. I'll keep at it.

Yesterday, there was an ekphrastic poetry and nonfiction reading at the Courthouse Gallery in Portsmouth. Ekphrastic means (roughly) art inspired by/relating to other art. We were supposed to visit the gallery, pick a piece and write in response to that piece. I couldn't get a ride, so I had to use their web site. They had a few quilts posted, each entitled "Biography," so I wrote a poem called "Quilting Memoir."

I'd never been to Portsmouth before this weekend. It was a glorious, sunny day, and Mary was nice enough to give me a ride. About a dozen people read, and there were even a few people in the audience who didn't take part in the reading. Heh. The gallery accidentally listed the date wrong on their web site, but I'm not sure listing in correctly would have helped much.

We poets joke that we mainly write for each other, because the people who buy poetry are poets. I read recently that only 5 percent of poetry books bought in bookstores are written by living poets. Living poets tend to make the majority of their sales when they give poetry readings...which, like I said, are mostly attended by other poets.

Anyway, it was so Springy out. Recently, it's been COLD. Not Iowa cold or anything, but 20 or 30 degrees below the average temp here. The crocuses and hyacinths have bloomed, and I was afraid they would freeze, but they seem to be doing alright. Trees are blooming all over town. My professor, Luisa, says her daughter calls them dandruff trees, though they look more like snowballs to me. Portsmouth was pretty, and I'd love to check it out sometime.

I enjoyed listening to my colleages and other area poets. Their work is so inspiring. I had to keep my pen in my hand the entire time to jot down ideas for new poems. I was a little nervous as I read for some reason. I try to get in character like I used to in theater, and it didn't work too well, but I don't think anyone could tell.

Afterwords, a handful of us went over to a local German restaurant for beer and snacks. The pretzels, lunchmeat, liverwurst, pumpernickel bread and spicy mustard were surprisingly satisfying. Mushy meat...yum!

All-in-all, it was one of those days that remind me why I'm here. I'm here to interact with other writers, become a better writer, and better connect with my audience. Just sitting at a table full of women, all of us laughing, was worth a lot.

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