…Out of Giving
Recently I was asked why I run The Poetry Lab, what I “get” out of it. It was a surprisingly difficult question. It’s less than a community service, but much more than a obligation. There are some smatterings of tit for tat. Maybe a whiff of loneliness. A need for community. I once knew a woman who started a huge poetry show because she wanted good poets to come to her. There’s that method. But I started The Lab because I see the poetry community as a cup. I want to fill it up.
Now I feel gross and corny, but you know what I mean. This is why I keep joining production teams and showing up at festivals and conferences. I want to be involved. Wouldn’t you?
The other day my best friend and I were having our regularly scheduled video chat in which we see each others faces and talk about our lives. Poetry is always a part of this conversation. She asked me how poems were going. And I said “they’re well behaved. Haven’t been any mass revolts or suicides lately.”
This led us to the decision that we must create a sign to hang over our respective desks that reads “Days Since Last Incident: 00” There will be moveable numbers to peg, of course. But mostly mine would read double zero.
Poetry is a craft, something to work very hard at. To study and learn and breathe. But it’s also a thing that happens to you. Sometimes ugly. Sometimes electric.
It helps to take this beast on the road. Let her mingle with other monsters at poetry readings. Just feel the air buzzing above the AWP Bookfair and you know what I mean. Perhaps that’s why the reason I do The Poetry Lab is such a shock to me. How it has become this good thing that runs out ahead and greets the world al la Joey Tribbiani double finger-gun Heeeyyy. It is alluring, enticing to know I’ve down this thing for a hundred reasons why and today at least one has come back to me. Whole.
Today, a Poetry Lab member is featuring one of my poems on her new website. A website devoted to the poets and poems of Long Beach. Only a few months ago the website didn’t exist. It was just an idea in Sarah’s head. But she came to The Poetry Lab with all the passion and excitement she felt and we discussed her idea at length. I believe she began to feel that she isn’t alone–that if she built it, they would come. And so they have.
Congratulations and thank you Sarah Thursday for giving me a whole new reason to love what I do and to keep on doing it. Today the monster is happily purring.
Visit Sarah’s project at CadenceCollective.net