Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Molly Peacock's Reading

Molly Peacock gave a great reading last night at Broward College, and she faced some challenges. The room was packed, so it was stuffy and hot. Many teachers were giving their students extra credit for attending, which helped contribute to a packed room, but it also meant that many of those students weren't terribly interested. So they did what students do when they're not interested: they talked to each other, they talked on the cell phone, they were restless. Much of the talking was done in whispers, but it still led to a disconcerting hiss from the corners.

Still, Peacock persevered and really impressed me. She's just retired a one woman show, so she knows how to read dramatically.

She also gave a great question and answer session. She talked about the years that she was a 7th grade teacher, the disabilities specialist. During those years, she wrote a poem every Saturday. She told us that she started thinking about the poem she would write on Thursday and Friday, and on Friday, no matter how tired she was, she got the grocery shopping done and cleaned the house. Then she woke up on Saturday and wrote.

That made me feel better about the times that I have trouble finding time. I usually can find enough of a scrap of time to write one poem a week, but I remember weeks when I'd write several poems a week, decent ones too, and those memories make me feel inadequate during weeks when my work life intrudes on my creative life. It's good to be reminded that a poetry life can be created even if you only have time one day a week to write poems.

Someone asked her about writing in form, and she told us that she taught herself. How cool. She saw herself as "kidnapping the form," the form of the white guys of the canon. She said that she's attracted to rhyme, because "rhyme is a promise that's kept," and for years of her life, the people in her life couldn't keep their promises. She said, "I started writing because I wanted to hear the truth."

I picked up her book, The Second Blush, which looks like a good one. I decided to buy it after hearing her read the last two poems in the book, "Marriage" (a poem which describes what it's like to have been married to someone for a long time, a positive vision) and "The Flaw," which reminds us that there's really no such thing as a flaw. What a treat, to go to a poetry reading on a Monday night.

I first fell in love with Molly Peacock's writing, after reading How To Read A Poem & Start A Poetry Circle, still one of my favorite books of hers. If you think you hate poetry (then you're not likely to be reading this blog, are you?) or if you know someone who says they hate poetry, give them this book. This book makes poetry (dare I say it?) accessible.

Her one woman show intrigues me. I'm always interested in the ways that different art forms can intersect and feed each other. But more on that in a different blog post.


Serena said...

What a great post about a reading of Molly Peacock. I really loved her reading at the National Book Festival last year. She was witty and engaging.

Thanks for the update on this event...and for the book recommendations.

Kristin said...

Thanks for coming by. In an earlier comment written in response to my Marilyn Nelson write-up, you mentioned how much you liked the Molly Peacock reading you had attended. I kept remembering your comments as I talked myself into making the effort to go to the reading. I'm glad I did!