On July 29, 2017, we welcomed a barn full of poets and poetry lovers for Poetry & Pie. Once again, our friend EM Reynolds took photos and wrote her reflections on attending the event. Thank you so much, EM, and to everyone else who made Poetry & Pie such a beautiful afternoon.
Saturday is the end of my work week, and after trying to match many patrons and customers with the perfect book, I am often tired and spent. The thought of going home to sit and read in bed is always an extreme temptation, but this week I had made a decision to attend a poetry event at Sweetland Farm.
If I hadn’t gone to the event, I never would have known how it’s possible to transform a barn into a spiritual place. One in which people can commune with with the spoken word and with each other.
If I hadn’t made the decision to go, I wouldn’t have learned that there are three Japanese words for heart: the organ, the thinking heart and the feeling heart. I wouldn’t have had reason to consider how hard it is to come out to one’s parents and how words can help you deal with loss. There is beauty to be found in grief and longing, and words have the power to heal. Thank you James.
If I hadn’t gone to hear these poets I would have missed out on Dede reading from her new work, breathing life into the sentences, saying so much with so little. Her economy of words striking right to the heart, capturing the essence of emotion. I wouldn’t have started to imagine myself as both participant and observer in this life.
If I hadn’t gone to immerse myself in language I wouldn’t have felt that intense connection to visual imagery. Or been confronted with my reflection in Mary Kane’s poem, "In Praise of Hoarders." Or contemplated despair and worry as giraffe-sized shapes and those as big as Asian countries. Or been lulled by the rhythm and cadence of Mary's voice.
If I had kept on driving instead of pulling into the meadow, I would have missed my chance to hear the Q&A with the authors. I wouldn’t have been bolstered when they discussed writing as a practice, and suggested ways to continuing to write in today’s climate. I would not have been thinking about the positive effects of recitation and the importance of memorization. And I wouldn’t have come hame and researched the poem I once knew by heart, "Leeltla Georgio Washington," which won me the eighth grade speech contest. (And reading the comments after the poem shows me I was not the only one brave enough to memorize and recite this in middle school.) Such a fun memory to revisit.
If I didn’t make a commitment to the event months ago and circled it in red on the calendar, I might have forgotten. And I wouldn’t have had the chance to marvel at the audience members’ bravery as they got up to read some of their own work. Nor would I have smiled at the recognition of mother’s sprouting butterfly wings, or the references to an ever changing electric sky. To think that moments can be stolen, that haiku can be written while waiting for sap to boil.
If I had just gone home after work I would have kicked myself later for passing up the opportunity to hear Taylor Katz recite one of her epic poems. To realize that people can write about their dirty floors and be honest enough to talk about body parts and the intense desire to be a good parent. And I wouldn’t have experienced the click clack of the typewriter keys as she created poems as the Poet for Hire.
Of course if I didn’t go I would have missed out on the amazing homemade pie. The sweet and the savory. As it was, I had a bite of: apple, cherry, chocolate pecan, and lemon. Fabulous every one. I didn’t have the rhubarb or blueberry, but I brought home some pulled pork hand pies for my husband and he agreed that my going to this event was a good good thing.
So if you didn’t go, this is some of what you missed, but maybe if you’re lucky it will be an annual event and you too can mark it on the calendar and count down the days.
But there’s no need to wait, you can experience this type of awe-inspiring communal event several times a week if your schedule allows. I challenge you to check out the Literary North calendar and make plans with a friend to attend an author event or a poetry reading. Or maybe a concert or a play. Step away from your screens, leave your own life for awhile and let the words, the experience, transform you.
EM Reynolds is a librarian, bookseller, writer, photographer and aspiring ukulele player living in Vermont.