Thursday, April 30, 2009

Celebrating Poetry: Cambridge, ON

Before this month is over I need to comment on the celebration of poetry in Cambridge in which I took part. (I should have done so earlier, but was distracted by the theft of my car and its accompanying complications.) The poetry contest sponsored by the Cambridge Libraries concluded with a reading in the Toyota Room, the auditorium of the Cambridge Arts Center, on April 19.Gathered there to display their chosen work were a good cross section of the community: children, teens, adults, all with some interest in some aspect of poetry. The "stars" were the thirty poets whose poems were chosen to be part of the Poem-a-Day program of the libraries. The evening's celebrations worked very well. Poetry, because it is usually enjoyed in private, is not easy to present in a group setting and to gather thirty people with friends and family and other interested people together is an accomplishment. More so is keeping the program moving at a good pace; this was done. No one read more than the chosen poem (including the shortest) and the judges kept any comments short.
Nearly all the chosen writers came. There were several incentives to make the evening well-attended. Primary, of course, was the chance to present their work in public. It surprised me how most, including the youngsters, were more comfortable with a microphone than I expected. While the applause still rang, they were whisked to a room away from the auditorium to again read and have their voices recorded. This would be posted on the library's web site.
Another plus for those attending was the publication of a chapbook anthology containing all thirty poems prepared for the occasion by Serengeti Press. It provided a record of the poems and the event that will last long past electronic records, and perhaps longer than some of the memories.As a judge, I was asked to comment on the category's entries before the young adults presented their poems. I noticed the other judges had prepared comments but I had not. It didn't bother me. Sometimes comments made "off the cuff" can be just as meaningful and more immediate.

Would I do it again? Just ask me. In fact, the Hamilton Public Library just did, lining up judges for their next Power of the Pen for young adults this fall. I accepted.

1 comment:

annaken said...

I think it is so wonderful to see young people participating so freely in such events.

It is a very brave thing to do, particularly when young, to expose yourself to others via poetry and writing.

I am also happy that you have been asked by the Hamilton Public Library to be a judge. Congratulations.