At an annual party yesterday hosted by one of our A.L.L. members, I had been asked to bring my "Marginalized Poets" quilt -- which I had taken to the last poetry class of the semester. Most of the poetry class were not invitees to this particular gathering. Many had not seen the quilt. As people became sated with the abundance of food and before desert and coffee a Shakespeare afficianado proclaimed a monologue from the Bard and then I explained the meaning of my quilt and asked a few women to read the poems I had given them a little earlier -- poems by women pictured on the quilt. They rose to the occasion, reading very well -- and I think all especially enjoyed the poem with which they were not famliar, Lucille Clifton's "These Hips" -- read with appropriate gusto and pride by Marjorie who bears no obvious resemblence to Ms. Clifton but was woman enough to ptoject the pride in the poem. I took the moderator's perogative and read two of Wislawa Szymborska's short poems -- introducing that wonderful Polish poet to this American audience.
Thus a highly literate audience who are not particularly poetry readers and most of whom are only familiar with Emily Dickenson and our favorite Cape Cod (sometimes) resident, Mary Oliver, had a chance to learn a little more about other women poems. I was born with a serious didactic impulse, I always want to tell people about the things I've discovered. Perhaps I was a missionary in a part life. I was most pleased when one guest said to me that he had never heard people reading serious poetry aloud before. He liked it.
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