|The author, Dane F. Baylis|
1. I am a believer in the never ending process of learning. In that cause I would like to put out an invitation to poets living in the Ventura, California area. Wednesday nights, for the next seven weeks, at 7 PM in Ventura at the Vita Art Center, 432 North Ventura Avenue, there will be an ongoing poetry workshop. This is a great opportunity to sharpen your craft and gather with other writers in the pursuit of excellence.
2. I have never done this before so I'm still figuring out my proverbial butt from a hole in the ground. What I am proposing is a poetry contest. Before you get to crazy, I am initially aiming this at the Southern California area. Perhaps later I can expand my reach but I'm still trying to get the ins and outs figured and would appreciate suggestions from anyone who has done this, or anything remotely similar, before.
Feel free to contact me about either of these announcements at the e-mail address listed at the bottom of the post.
THE POEM AS BRIBE
(I Hope I Never See This Done Again!)
I went to a reading last night at one of my favorite venues. To say there was a considerably larger crowd than usual is an understatement. The audience had doubled in size and was significantly younger than usual. I thought this a great tribute to the featured poet, who is a long time familiar figure and a voice of real standing in the local scene.
I signed up for the open mic portion and was amazed at the number of readers listed. We'd struck gold...The young poets who I thought were disappearing had come out of hiding! Again, I was pleased, thinking they were there for the featured reader.
We got through the first part of the program and, after a short break, returned for the open portion. That's when I learned that these were all members of the same high school class and they had been offered an opportunity to get out of a portion of their final exam if they would write, and read, publicly, one poem. The minimum requirement set for them was a haiku.
Okay, I take into consideration that the teacher who assigned this doesn't teach poetry. However, she was an English major. If you are going to assign a form with the type of specific guidelines, parameters, and requirements as haiku, it might be nice to instruct your charges in those points. What was delivered last night, though a touch ballsy for teens, was not, for the most part, HAIKU !
I have nothing against young POETS. Some of the best nights of reading, writing, and discussion I have had involved people younger than myself who brought with them a hunger for words and expression. But what happened last night wasn't poetry, it was mass bribery. The only reason any of these kids showed up at all was because a teacher had bribed them with something they thought of as trivial and easy. This was really too bad in the case of a couple of them who really showed something interesting and thoughtful. Perhaps those individuals will return...Though I doubt it.
Let's face it, by setting the bar to this challenge so low, that teacher did none of her students, or the many regular's present, any favors. The older regulars are of several styles and skill levels but what the vast majority of them have is the passion that drives them to produce their very best, without thought of reward, simply for the art and opportunity to share. They are the poets who give their souls to the audience until the last thing they have left is just that.
I was once a young poet - only a teen, when I walked into my first open reading at Stone Soup Poetry some forty years ago. Eventually they would publish my first poem. What that venue taught me was how much I had to learn, and that there were rewards to that learning. It involved more work than I could imagine, not how to get out of work. The experience taught me about hope and rejection, and acceptance of my limitations, along with the value of striving.That is what excelling in the arts is all about.
So. Glad you kids could come out to play...Now put on your grown up pants and come back. Then we'll see if you're a writer. It's really not that far from there to POET, it's just a stony frigging road for traveling. Oh, and if you were a bit nonplussed by my work and choice of language? Good, that shows you're thinking about it, and that is so much of what poetry is about!
Meanwhile...live, love, write.
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Dane F. Baylis