Friday, April 19, 2013

Hobo Code Poetry Reading Tonight

Regular readers of this blog may remember that in January, I went to a workshop at the public library, which I wrote about in this blog post.  We were working with symbols used by hobos during the Great Depression as they travelled the country.  We created poems.  We were invited to participate in 2 events for April, National Poetry Month.

Tonight is one of those events: the Hobo Code Poetry reading at Studio 18 in the Pines (1101 Poinciana Dr. Pembroke Pines, FL 33025).

We have been encouraged to dress in hobo clothes.  I feel a bit conflicted about that, since we live in a time and place where we have lots of homeless folks.  I've had friends and colleagues react in a variety of ways:  some are intrigued, some are shocked by appropriating someone else's culture, some have wondered if we'd be seen as mocking the homeless, and some people have thought it would be fun.

I finally decided that I'm at peace with this project because an original hobo, Fran, the Hobo Minstrel (website here), a man who has dedicated his life to preserving this culture, is happy that we're doing it.  And I love that children have been involved.  I love that the first reading was at a park, and that the workshops were at the library.  I love bringing poetry to the community in all sorts of ways, and I love that Broward County still has some money to keep the libraries and parks open and a bit of money to support poetry.

I plan to make some sticks with fabric at the end, the item used by hobos to carry possessions.  I wasn't going to dress like a hobo, but I do have a pair of pants with a heart-shaped patch on the knee.  Not my usual poetry reading outfit, but I think I'll wear it.

The two friends who went with me to the writing workshop at the library are going to participate.  We will eat dinner at an all-you-can-eat sushi place at 5, and then we'll head on over to the gallery.

I'm not sure what to expect.  There will be time to mingle before the reading starts at 6:30.  There will be hobo type food.  My poem is based on the idea of Mulligan stew, the sustenance possible when everyone shares scant resources.

If you can't come, you can still see our poems and read the background information.  The complete project is online here.

I'll take pictures and post a write-up tomorrow.

From a press release:

A free poetry reading will be held for the community from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. on Friday, April 19, 2013, at Studio 18. Hobo style Mulligan stew and light refreshments will be served and live entertainment of Hobo style music utilizing acoustic guitar and harmonica will create an enjoyable atmosphere. Everyone is encouraged to “dress hobo style.”

“The Hobo Code installation is great opportunity for children and adults to learn about the different symbols Hobos would use to communicate with each other,” said Robyn Vegas, Cultural Arts Coordinator for the City of Pembroke Pines.


Kathleen said...

What a delightful project. Best wishes tonight to you all!

Michael Meade said...

I hope you had a good time as a hobo. There is really much more to it than people know. Of course, if you were in touch with Fran, you probably figured that out. Unfortunately, I have sad news. I heard today that Fran caught the westbound, which is a hobo's way saying he passed away. I was rummaging through the internet, looking for information on my old friend when your article came up. I'm glad that Fran made you feel good about your look at the hobo lifestyle. He made me feel good for years and years, and I will miss him.