I had a conversation a few nights ago about my frustrations when viewing poets and their very hard earned words in comparison to other artists.
I live in a city that is very focused on the arts. On any given evening I can go to a local bar and hear a local band. On any given evening I can go to a gallery and view paintings, sculptures, sketches, etc. On any given evening I can go to a theatre and watch a play. Our larger venues have local, as well as out of town talent that graces the stage. If I want an evening of poetry, I have to go to an open mic.
I host an open mic that I feel is quite successful and promotes the art of poetry. A drummer and a bassist back up the poets as if they’d been playing together for years. That’s how great the musicians are. A young lady quite adept at gracing the canvas paints to poetry. A photographer captures every nuance and moment that defines just how powerful poetry is.
My frustration is that finding venues for poets is difficult, almost impossible. The argument I get is, “who wants to attend an event where they just sit and listen to poetry?” “When people go out they want to drink and dance, not sit and listen to poems.” “I can’t justify wasting a couple of hours on any given evening to poetry when I can have musicians play. It’s what brings people and encourages them to drink or eat.” I’m not kidding, these are real responses.
Interestingly enough, I have opened (with poetry) for The Betty Fox Band (a Suncoast Blues Challenge winner who represented St. Petersburg in Memphis, TN for the International Blues Challenge) and received an incredible response. I had people approach me and state they’d never experienced anything like that and had no idea that was an available form of entertainment. For the most part it’s not in my city.
I also recently participated in an event at The Studio@620 where a classical pianist and three poets performed for about 90 minutes. We brought people to tears, created laughter, deep thought, serious emotions, and were told by all that attended that they had never experienced anything quite like it. Attendance was sparse, but now that the word is out, people keep asking when it will happen again.
I feel the biggest issue is that people just don’t know how powerful and life changing it is to sit and listen to poetry, knowing that most likely that poet is laying themselves bare upon the stage on so many levels. Poetry changes lives, circumstances, viewpoints, emotions and the list goes on.
My mission is to integrate the arts and create a fusion that brings the power of creative thinking to the forefront.