— From EF —

            Lotta poetry right now; our periodic Oral Traditions Salon just happened, and a day after that was the annual Favorite Poems event. Sebastopol is a good place for poetry — one of our past mayors is a substantial poet.

Imagine a meeting-room adjacent to a stunning show of modern figurative art. Imagine people taking a sunny Sunday afternoon to listen to poetry. Imagine about forty people stepping up to read or recite what they claim as their favorite poem, and to give a hint about the reason for the choice. Imagine those forty being joined by twice as many who came just to listen.

The whole room was alive. Little breaths as particular words or lines sank deep. Surreptitious sniffles. Blurts of startled laughter. The place was a living ode to listening.

Texting and tweets are one form of currency. But poetry is pure gold that endures and shines and picks up warmth from fingers and earlobes when it’s worn. The act of public sharing is vital. I like imagining that the coyotes who yip in the night are really having a poetry fest.

 — From CB —

            I’ve written a large shelf full of plays, hundreds of short dramatic sketches, four unpublished novels (a fifth on the way), three unproduced screenplays, lots of audio pieces, 60 weekly blog entries, countless press releases and grant applications, and many years ago even fumbled my way through my dissertation. But I can’t write a damned poem.

Not strictly true. I wrote my first poem when I was fifteen. Its brilliance stunned me, and I was appalled to think I’d probably never be able to write something so fine again. I was mistaken on all counts. And from time to time I’ve given it another try, never to my satisfaction.

I love intense feeling and experience expressed concisely. To my taste, most full-length plays should be condensed to one-acts, most one-acts to micro-plays, and most micro-plays to one-liners. (In poetry, I’m not much of a fan of long stuff, though I’m a sucker for Byron and Blake; I much prefer to have my skull split at one blow.) And there are passages in our plays that rise to a lyric intensity, I think. So I ought to be able to cobble together at least ten memorable lines that can stand, if not as an orchid, at least as an elegant thistle.

My blockage, perhaps, comes from my experience, as playwright, of always writing with a mask: the characters of a play may partake of your elements, but none are actually you, so it feels very peculiar to find your own voice and claim it. And it may snag on my dialectical mind: I’m never comfortable making a positive statement without probing it, like a dentist, for its cavities. And it may be I just don’t have any bright ideas for a poem.

Maybe it’s time to try again. At least it might be an advance over the fifteen-year-old’s opus.

— From the Fool —

            I wrote a whole bunch about chickens, but I lost it. I felt bad about that. Before, I’d said stuff about Mr. Sturtly’s chickens across the road, and that sounded like I didn’t like chickens. But I think they do the best they can.

When I was a little Fool it was on the news that the Air Force invented a cannon to shoot chickens out. They shot it at an airplane at 700 miles per hour to see what would happen if a chicken hit an airplane. A whole chicken, probably plucked, they didn’t say — that might have been classified. It had a purpose for national defense, maybe put them in orbit and shoot drumsticks down at the Russians. But I support chicken rights, at least for American chickens. You never know when it might be you.

So I wrote more stuff about chickens, which isn’t that easy to do. How much is there to say? “That’s a chicken” pretty much covers it. You can’t really get to know them very well. My friend Millie is a vegetarian except for chicken. She says it’s okay to eat them because they don’t know they’re being eaten. I was gonna say, “Well, at some point they probably guess,” but you don’t mess around with Millie. She believes in non-violence, but just to believe it, not to do it.

Anyway, all my thoughts about chickens have fled into the digital gizzard of my computer. Which seems right somehow. The computer and the chicken think alike.

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© Bishop & Fuller 2015

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