We were fortunate to enough to be in attendance at the first JARS (Journal Alliance Reading Series) event of 2007 earlier today, when RMR's own Mary Kaiser read from her new chapbook of poems, "Falling Into Velazquez" (Slapering Hol Press, 2006). There were a total of 23 people at the Bottletree Cafe in the lovely, gritty little Avondale neighborhood just east of the Magic City. That's 23 counting the bartenders. And the poet. You could look at that and say, "See...

1) ...poetry is insignificant!" and/or
2) ...the masses are ignorant slobs!"

You'd be wrong on both counts, though, and here's why...

As regards Count #1: Some of the most essential things are relatively small. Germs, for instance. Also kidneys. Wethinks our addiction to big portions stems from an excess of positivistic rationalism (or is that rationalistic positivism?) -- more is better because we can see it, and if we can see it, we can count it, and if we can count it, we can be sure it means something. But poetry's lack of size makes it stealthy, hearty too, and replete with coping strategies. And what is life without stealth and coping strategies? Boring and/or insufferable.

As regards Count #2: Poetry combats ignorance in the only way it can be beaten: that is, hand-to-hand. Sitting with 23 people in what used to be a gay bar, there isn't any such thing as "the masses." That vast shared numbness dissolves away. We will all, soon enough, retake our positions in regards to "the masses" -- among them, stalking their perimeter, etc. The point is 23 people on a Sunday afternoon listened to good poems and good thought and thereby engaged in something not very unlike a worship service. Contemplation. Reflection. Fellowship. Communion. A small moment made larger for its smallness, a brief time to step out of the world, our world: its ignorance, its significance, its sheer mass. Amen.

1 comment:

Brian Dean Bollman said...

Small, like a campfire in the wirlderness.