Last night, I went to a poetry reading because Kelly Fineman was the featured reader. I enjoyed Kelly's poems, as I always do, from the humorous spin on Robert Frost to the serious poems about changes in her life. I was tickled when she read a poem that came from our excursion to the Fine Arts Museum back in the spring. I've always admired her wordsmithing, and her skill at using strict forms (e.g., sonnets) to explore possibilities rather than limitations. Last night I also noticed her conciseness: no poem ever seemed to be a single word longer than it should have been.
Aside from her talents as a poet, Kelly also knows how to structure a reading, alternating runs of darker poems with lighter poems, and building to a final poem and a final line that were natural sparks for applause. The ability to choose the right poem to end with was a skill also displayed by other poets who read later in the evening.
I found something to like in all the poets' work, but aside from Kelly, the other reader whose work I found the most compelling was Anna Evans. Although the audience seemed to respond most strongly to a forceful poem about sexual harassment, I was generally enchanted with her careful attention to every word in every poem--even down to a description of handbags that compared their colors to flavors.
Whenever I'm at a reading, or a concert, or any similar event, it always strikes me that this is humanity at its best: people coming together to create, to share. There is so much violence and apathy in this world, but when I see people pour their energy into art and community, it gives me hope.