Saturday, February 28, 2015

Tonight at the Prøve: 19th Annual St. David's Day Open Mic Poetry Event

“Always be a poet, even in prose.” ~ Charles Baudelaire

We have a tradition here in the Northland that is now in its 19th year. It's called the St. David's Day Open Mic Poetry Event. I've noted before that we have more than our share of artists and poets in this area and gatherings like this serve to illustrate that point.

When I attended last year at The Underground I was somewhat surprised at the quantity and caliber of poets present. This year the Prøve Gallery, 21 Lake Avenue N., is hosting the event, presented by the Spirit Lake Poetry Series.

Minnesota Book Award winner Louis Jenkins is credited with conceiving this event. One of its aims is to honor the anniversary of the canonization of St. David, the patron saint of Wales. A second is to showcase area voices and kiss winter goodbye.

Who is Louis Jenkins? Louis Jenkins is an award-winning prose poet from Oklahoma who with his artist wife Ann has made Duluth his home for the past three decades. His work has been published in numerous literary magazines and anthologies, including Best American Poetry 1999.

Who is St. David? St. David is the Patron Saint of Wales who was born near the end of the 5th century. A poem written about St. David five centuries later predicted that the Celtic peoples would rise up and repel the Anglo-Saxons. He's been a rallying point for many uprisings over the years.

We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. ~Robin Williams, Dead Poet's Society

Prose poetry is a genre of the literary arts that has caused some people consternation over the years. Can it really be considered poetry if it's prose? The same debates have occurred regarding whether photography or printmaking should be considered a fine art. Jenkins is a master of the form.

Here's a short piece by Louis Jenkins titled Football.


I take the snap from the center, fake to the right, fade back...
I've got protection. I've got a receiver open downfield...
What the hell is this? This isn't a football, it's a shoe, a man's
brown leather oxford. A cousin to a football maybe, the same
skin, but not the same, a thing made for the earth, not the air.
I realize that this is a world where anything is possible and I
understand, also, that one often has to make do with what one
has. I have eaten pancakes, for instance, with that clear corn
syrup on them because there was no maple syrup and they
weren't very good. Well, anyway, this is different. (My man
downfield is waving his arms.) One has certain responsibilities,
one has to make choices. This isn't right and I'm not going
to throw it.

* * * *

Tonight's event begins at 7:30 p.m.  Poets will each have three minutes to read one of their own pieces and a poem by someone else. You're invited not only to enjoy but to participate. Will we see you there?

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