Culture Vulture Searches for the Right Words
Swing around in Portland, with your arms straight out from your body, and you hit twenty writers and a restaurateur. Not to say the city's abundant with essayists, poets and scribes of all sorts, but we are.
On the recent First Monday night I told someone I was headed to Longfellow Square for some readings. He thought I said "poultry". Another, thought I said "pottery slam". They both thought it would make for an interesting night...exit laughing. Off to the Portland Word meeting in a former book shop, under the shadow of Henry's green and granite statue.
This night, three writers--not all poets, but, all women--relating life-lessons, some spoken just above a whisper into the provided mic, others with strength, and a relentless carrying forward. And, the crowd, 7-8 thick in places, was silent, respectful--many having tried writing, themselves, and a bit in awe of those with the nerve to actually present their words to the world. To place Portland in the world of words, such events are sought out by the writers looking for a room, to present. The headliner May 5th: a poet with a Masters in English from Harvard...yes, that Havard. Rousing cheers on completion.
When one thinks of poets in Portland, Longfellow and others will resonate...imagine Henry slamming his poetics home to an audience in the upstairs room of a favorite drinkery...usually, home to local and visiting bands on weekend nights: PA's and keyboards, dancing. Poetry slams featuring nationally-touring slammers, by the way, are raised up for your pleasure by Port Veritas (named for the Goddess of Truth). And, needing only the 6-inch high stage, and a microphone. Slam is apropos. Mic not always needed with some poets' voices banging off the rafters. A few punk poets, a cowboy, open mic want-to-be poets, dredging lives of hurt and horror, two words to concretely describe life's jab. A line of couplets to overcome and bring laughter, solace, remorse, renewal...or, to just swear like a sailor! National poetry month held forth in Portland during April, but, as with most things Portland loves, poets wax year round, here. Just ask. Just search. Folks looking for something new to do, girlfriends of poets "grouping" for their guys, attendance swells just before the first poet...snapping fingers in beat-nick applause and approval--poignant. Ovations as for rock stars.