15 December 2007

poetry stand

How a precocious group of high school poets learned to provide verse on demand.

And so, in the most natural way, people drifted over to the poetry stand to get their free poems. The kids delegated the assignments among themselves based on a batting order we drew up on the ride over, but they made exceptions if a particular request played to one of their strengths. A girl in jeans and a bandana wanted a love poem for Dick Cheney. “Dick Cheney? I got this,” said Zebbi...

From our bench Rich and I watched the greeters intercept people and enjoyed hearing reports of how far the scouts had ventured to send back customers. We tried to predict who would approach the poetry stand on their own and who wouldn’t. A stout guy in a Yankees cap veered toward the tables, then stopped. “C’mon, c’mon,” we rooted. He passed by, then looped back again. It was first-rate people-watching, and it made me wonder about the place of poetry in the lives of ordinary Americans. I thought of the public faces of people; and I thought of the pure emotion that wells up from reading poetry. Who “looks” like they’d be into poetry? Nobody — with the possible exception of those walking around barefoot in wings or a bed sheet. Who loves poetry? Given the right context, everyone who loves music.

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