Reading #17 – 5/6/2018 – Mad Poets’ Young Writers Contest Reading

This reading was very different compared to the other ones on this list. Brooke had been asked to judge the contest, and so we got to see the kids read. It reminded me of my past, my childhood, and the things that ultimately led me to start considering writing seriously.

It also made me think about children and honoring their perspectives and voices. One day, they will inheret the world we give them, and so they definitely have a say in what happens to it.

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Reading #16 – 5/2/2018 – Ryan Eckes interview and reading

I have heard Ryan read before, but it was really cool to hear him talk about his work. At one point, he made the comment that politics and political parties divide us, and that the real struggles that we have come from economics. That made me think of something I once heard, that we have more in common with one another than we have differences. Maybe art is supposed to show us this. I don’t know – something to think about for a couple years… 🙂

Anyhow, thought-provoking and interesting event!

Reading #15 – 4/22/2018 – Philly Poetry Festival

Okay, so I’m a little late getting this one up, but I had to write about this cool event. It was an all day affair featuring readers from all over as well as poets selling books, and different organizations that hosted events in and around Philly. It was nice to re-connect with some old friends, but it was just as nice to meet new ones. It re-energized me, and reminded me of the scope and influence of the Philly Poetry Scene.

Reading #14 – 4/19/2018 – Favorite Writers

In a breach of form, this really chill event had people bring and share work from their favorite poets. This was cool because it offered insight into where everyone has been with poetry, what they experience, and how poetry has affected them over the years. A nice and welcome change of pace.

Reading #13 – 4/10/2018 – Eliza Callard and Christine Campbell

Last night I got to hear fine work from both poets. In both cases, Eliza and Christine used techniques from other genres to augment their work, and I think they worked very well. Genres and the boundaries between them are arbitrary, and artists often compose their best work when they attempt to redefine or alter these boundaries.

Reading #12 – 4/4/2018 – Raquel Salas Rivera

A good crowd turned out to see the Poet Laureate of Philadelphia Raquel Salas Rivera be interviewed by Sean Lynch and share some poems. A lot of Rivera’s work dealt with class and inequality, and it was truly a moving and inspirational experience.

One of the questions Sean asked explored higher education and the elitism sometimes associated with it. It reminded me of a quote from writer Mike Rose, who says of education: “We need an orientation to instruction that provides guidance on how to determine and honor the beliefs and stories, enthusiasms, and apprehensions that students reveal.” I interpret this as saying that educators must acknowledge students’ backgrounds, experiences, and knowledge. In college, this means instructors must not focus just on the ‘one story’ of higher education but rather on honoring the many stories of members of the college community. Rivera discussed this in their response, and their work definitely showed the struggle to find one’s own story in a world that is not always supportive.

This whole event brought me back to the question I have wrestled with for years, the role of the poet or artist in society. If Pablo Picasso was right and art is ‘an instrument of war,’ then the artist has no choice but to actively involve themselves in what occurs around them. Burying your head in the sand is not an option.

Reading #11 – 3/28/2018 – Rowan University Open Mic

This reading was one that I helped coordinate. It was an opportunity for faculty and students to get up and share their work. It unique because I got to hear from students, a set that I don’t usually hear read their work. It made me think of the amount of time that has passed since I was in their shoes, what has happened since then, and unfortunately the time I wasted. For several years I stopped writing, convinced that it was a waste of my time and effort. Maybe it is, but nevertheless I’m glad that I got back into it. I’m grateful for all the people I have met through writing and all of the memories that I have made.