Thursday, March 29, 2007

Poetry Reading

Tonight I went with my friend Sherita to listen to Alice Friman read from her new book of poetry, The Book of the Rotten Daughter. She was appearing at the University as part of the Women's Week presentations. Alice used to teach classes and workshops here when she lived in Indianapolis. She now lives in Georgia, so I hadn't seen her for a few years. It was wonderful to see and hear her again.

Several of the poems in this book deal with the deaths of her father and mother and the time that she spent tending her mother in a nursing home. She said that some people may think that is gruesome, but "writing helps us grieve, helps us understand." She also said that she believes that writing poetry is "like writing with a laser beam." She did throw some more lighthearted poems into the mix, so we wouldn't all be too depressed.

Alice is a fantastic poet. I love her phrasing and choice of words. And I love hearing her read, with her New York accent--still strong after all these years of living in Indiana and now in Georgia.

Sherita and I and another friend are going to go to a poetry workshop this weekend in Indianapolis. I haven't written much poetry lately. Poems are mysterious to me; it seems like they either come almost full-blown or they don't come at all. I've tried several of the techniques that other poets recommend. Clustering helps create them. Word tickets, used like Susan Wooldridge teaches in Poemcrazy (a fantastic book!) help me sometimes. The Magnetic Poetry kits are fun to play with too. And maybe that is why poems come harder for me--I don't play with them enough; I take them too seriously. I'll let you know how the weekend goes. I'm sure I'll learn something new and hear some good poets read and have more to share.


colleen said...

Poemcrazy was one of my favorite books! I was teaching creative writing at a small alternative school when I read it and it really helped me get excited about it.

I think the laser beam reference for poetry is good. I have called writing poetry like dosing before. My pen is the stick and I'm looking for water, or what lies down deep. I also think of it as like taking my phycic blood pressure. I haven't been writing much poetry lately. I need a vacation from prose. Poetry is my Carribean refuge and prose is more downtown to me.

Linda said...

I agree; Iloved Poemcrazy. I like how you describe poetry! And I think it really is like dowsing for water--you can't just say "Okay, water will appear here because this is where I want my well." You have to search for it and go with your instincts and trust in something greater and more mysterious than your will.

Becca said...

I like the book Poemcrazy too, and I also find my own poetry writing to be sporadic. I was writing quite a bit last summer, but over the winter it seemed the poetry muse stopped visiting me.

Linda said...

Thanks for stopping by. I think that we have a lot of the same interests! Also, when I checked on Susan Wooldridge's website, I saw that she is going to have a new book out in June. I'm looking forward to it.

Denise said...

Alice, Alice, Alice!

I know we've spoken of Alice before, but I must write her name here. She is a force to be reckoned with-- and I only know her as my freshman English teacher, not as the formidable poet. So now I need to read her.