Last night, I savored time with Poets. We took over a bar where one wall hid behind old books and the other had local artists’s paintings and photography climbing every inch. The room was dark, lit by the swirl of red in wine glasses and flicker of miniature flame from tea light candles. We mingled and marched our words all over each other.
The wall of art represented the diversity of young minds. A photographer reveals the eloquence of graffiti interrupted by a man walking his large dog. A mixed-media artist splices images of a woman with vibrant colors and a camera lens peeking out of her panties. And then my eyes grow wide when I notice….
Two carrots intertwined like lovers.
Most of the artists were present and when I asked about this one, I learned he was from out of town and wasn’t able to attend this event. An hour later, however, he arrives.
A young man with tiny hairs erratically smeared on his lower face comes up to me. He is shy and I let go of my own shyness to allow room for his to spread out.
“I was told you like my painting. I really liked your poem,” he said.
Earlier, I had performed with two phenomenal minds: a true activist and a Poet/Professor. With many of our poems staged in the palms on our hands, we moved back and forth in an unplanned but smooth rhythm, splicing our poems into each other. I would read a line or stanza and one of them would interject with their own. It was honest and moving to be a part of.
“Well, thank you,” I said to Shy Artist. “Umm…I really like your work, especially that painting of carrots.”
He smiled, but only with half of his mouth. The rest was still a bit timid. “Cause of your hair?”
I believe he was relating the bright orange of the carrots to the bright red of my hair.
“No, I have a thing for vegetables. I go to the farmer’s market very Saturday.”
“Grand Army Plaza.”
He continued to tell me that he felt uncomfortable taking full responsibility for his art. There were other factors.
“You have a muse.” I stated this more as an assertion rather than a question.
“No, well, sometimes.” He explained that it’s everything around him that helps him to create.
I completely understand. My poems come out of affairs, out of weather disruptions, out of so many things outside of myself that I, too, was starting to wonder if maybe I couldn’t take responsibility for my craft either.
Later on in the evening, a dark haired beauty with cherry-cordial-drenched lips played piano while two poets played out their improvisational relationship to the beat of her keys.
An Irishman who is now a Brooklyn local played guitar and we all drank our chosen beverages, toasting to an evening of shared creativity.
* * *
If ‘you’ asked me what I really want to do, I’d say THIS. Being around other egoless Poets and Artists, talking about existence and literature. Being part of a movement, a collective of minds. Last night was the beginning of something. A declaration. A call out to those in need of an inexpensive space to experiment with language, art, thoughts. It was and is the beginning of Poetry Teachers NYC.