Monday, April 13, 2009

The Poetry of Home

I'm working at home today, playing catch up with my to-do list, and responding to a large stack of students' poems. My poetry workshop is giving a reading tomorrow that I've been helping them prepare for since the semester began.  I'm collaborating on this performance with Irene Egan from the Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) of Greater Lowell.  The Lowell VNA is celebrating their centennial this year, and to mark the occasion they've curated an exhibition of artifacts and memorabilia from the past 100 years.  The show is being held at the Patrick J. Mogan Cultural Center in downtown Lowell.  Irene contacted me last summer to see if I wanted to collaborate on a poetry reading in conjunction with the show. Well, anyone who knows me knows I love a good poetry reading!

So, the students have been writing, revising, workshopping, and revising again in preparation.  They've also been practicing their reading skills.  Nothing scares most people more than public speaking, and giving a public poetry reading of one's own work is among the scariest things one can put oneself through.  On top of that, the students will be performing poems specifically on the theme of home--whatever that means to them.  I have been amazed by the power and variety of the poems they are crafting.  I also have been impressed by how seriously they are taking this reading.  I've been teaching college for a long time, and I always have my students give readings, but I think this year will be something special.  

We also received a grant from the Lowell Cultural Council to put together an anthology of the students' poems.  A student designed the cover as well.  I am more excited than I can express to see them all printed and finished tomorrow!  For most of these students, this will be their first time seeing their work in print.    

As I finish up odds and ends of paperwork this afternoon, stopping for tea breaks and a nibble or two on leftover babka, I find myself thinking a lot about this idea, "the poetry of home."  My house is a bit raggedy today after the bustle of Easter and the middle-semester stacks of papers, still there's Dill sleeping on a kitchen chair beneath the skylight and Scout curled up on her favorite wicker chair.  Todd, too, has fallen asleep on the sofa under a copy of Waiting for Godot that he's re-reading for his Irish Lit class (for the bizillionth time).  My little world is fast asleep.  Outside the window and six floors down, my larger world bustles: school buses hum in front of the charter school, a siren wails down Dutton Street, and I can bet that at this very moment a drug deal (or two or five) is being made just around the corner on Appleton Street--ahh, the romance of urban living.  But for the moment, we are all here protected by bricks and mortar that have stood for over a hundred years and will most likely stand long after we're gone.  We are here, and for a moment, I am home.


  1. Dearest -- the end of this entry just gave me the most pleasant "chill" (hardly the word, I know, but that's what if felt like). Could I "shudder" of comfort? Anyway, I trust you get the point.

  2. For the first sentence or so of this post, I was thinking how much it sounded like my day. Then you went and became all brilliant and such, and lost our "likeness" completely!
    I did share the feeling of the comfort of home though~
    Have a lovely week,


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