When we walked into the Athenaeum, I could hear the words dancing off a poet’s tongue as he shared a poem that I could feel, even though I wasn’t paying attention to what was being said. The embarrassment of showing up late to an event and sliding into a small, silent group in a crowded book-filled room does that. All I could hear was the sound of my voice in my head apologizing mentally to all the people we were pushing past, and the steady rhythm of the poet, that beautiful way that practiced poets read their work.
I’m not good with names, but I recognized a few faces, which made me feel right at home. That’s what I love about literary events: I’m with my people. Even when I go to an event by myself, I’m never alone. Luckily, Sara is good with names, so we are now able to praise the poets before us.
First up: Joey Gould
Second Poet: Kolleen Carney-O’Brien
It appeared to be open mic time. That’s what I gathered from the person introducing all the poets. The second OMP (open mic poet – I’m totally making this a new saying) used the same rhythmic, soothing tone that makes you want to float away on their words. Kolleen said her middle poem was a work in progress, but it was so good that I couldn’t imagine any changes, and I’d be sad if anything about the poem was different.
The keynote speaker, Curtis Purdue, opened up with someone else’s poem, something he does regularly, a fact that intrigued both myself and Sara (Why have we never done this?). If you’re a good writer, you must read, and if you read, you must get inspired by the ideas, words, worlds, images of other writers. So why not share some of these inspirations? Also, part of being a professional writer is how you present yourself, and sharing your word-hero’s work is one way of helping your audience get to know you better.
Now, with an event title like “The Theatre of Words and Music,” you’d expect some music, right? Well, the words came first, and the music came after, and what music it was! The French gypsy band, NoMad Dreams, described themselves as a wide mix that will ‘go straight to your head, like champagne.’ Indeed, NoMad combines so many styles and with just two members, makes a memorable experience, not just in English, but in Russian and French. The highlight (other than the amazing music) was the variety and the love the band shared for trying new styles. Their music is a mix of genres, but what they sing and perform clearly is true to who they are. Being a lover of French music, I could easily pick up on that characteristic of their songs. C’est bien, la musique!
Note from the Editor-in-Chief:
Why do events like these matter? Unless you live in a major city or are the top contender at the local café’s open mic night, literary events can be scarce, which of course is a depressing thought. Words can impact more than just the speaker but also their listeners long after they leave the podium, and it’s up to every one of us to breathe in creativity in one form or another. Events like the one we attended did that, and we must now hope more events occur in the area and people put down their phone (unless to take a picture of the speaker—I’m not about to be called a hypocrite), be silent, maybe even close their eyes and just listen to the voice of a stranger or friend unwinding into their own words.