Organizers pleased with poetry reading turnout

DOWNEY – Last Friday’s poetry reading at Mari’s Wine Bar featuring poet Rick Smith brought a smile to the evening’s curator Lorine Parks.
“I was very pleased with the turnout," she said. "Counting the people who were seated at the bar and those on the sofas on the sidelines, plus those in the folding chairs arranged in front of the mike, there were at least 35 [people] who were there for the poetry.”
After about an hour’s playing of a hammered dulcimer and guitar by Bea and Jim Romano, seven enthusiastic open mike readers commenced to recite their poems, all differing in subject matter, tone and delivery. Some delivered several lines of amusing poetry, a few tried to elevate the level of energy with their passion, and at least one displayed a hard-edged articulation of her feelings, but somehow the whole thing proceeded on schedule.
The eager open mike readers included Jason Bowe, Tina Johnson, Sue Beem, Jim Read, Peggy Heher-Smith, Margaret Hehman-Smith and Willard Ferguson.
Rick Smith, who not only has a Ph. D. in psychology but plays a mean harmonica, then read from his two slim published volumes of poetry, “The Wren Notebook” and “Hard Landing,” as well as a number of as yet unpublished ones. Most of the selections were short and elicited good reactions from the audience. He reserved his longest poem for the last.
He had copies of his books of poetry on a side table for sale, along with CD’s of the music of The Mescal Sheiks, for whom he plays his harmonica, and his CD reading from his “Hard Landing.” Again, Parks observed afterwards: “It’s fun and stimulating to be in a place where other things are going on, too, like troubadours in the Middle Ages, who had to compete with jugglers and squawking chickens in the market place.”
She also received comments like “I have to learn to listen better” and “I just opened up and enjoyed wherever the poetry took me.” She said, in Twitter fashion: “Very low-key atmosphere and poetry-friendly. Great to see poetry live in Downey.”
She said several enthusiastic attendees stayed afterwards in discussion with some of the poets, and suggestions were made for an informal discussion circle after the readings so the audience could ask questions and talk with the poets.
“For our next reading in January,” she said, “we will start and end earlier, and hope to have music again, too. We’ll get flyers put earlier, too.”
A sample of Rick Smith’s poetry, from The Wren Notebook:
Crash landings and small craft warnings
Seeds and grasses in
the cross wind of the plains.
This defiance is perilous:
darting in and out
a ground skirmish
with a young buffalo, the size of a continent,
who seems not to notice
but who avoids stepping on any of us.
Huge and tiny

Published: November 24, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 32