A POET’S WEEKEND IN THREE MOVEMENTS
by Roy Beckemeyer
BAGATELLE – “… a short piece of music or verse in a light style” – Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary
On Friday morning, March 1, 2013, I received the very welcome news that a haiku of mine had been accepted by editors Scott Wiggerman and Constance Campbell for their forthcoming anthology, “Lifting the Sky: Southwestern Haiku & Haiga,” to be published by Dos Gatos Press (http://dosgatospress.org/ ) of Austin, Texas. A quite pleasant way to enter the weekend and a warm-up that got me humming and in-tune for the scheduled events to come.
A brief INTERMISSION to move to a new venue: my wife, Pat, and I drove from Wichita to Emporia, Kansas (about 90 miles) for Friday night’s reading from Kansas Poet Laureate Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg’s “To the Stars Through Difficulties: A Kansas Renga in 150 Voices” (http://150kansaspoems.wordpress.com/readings/). Some of the poets who had contributed poems to the volume met at Casa Ramos, a nice little Mexican restaurant in Emporia for ceviche, burritos, flautas and other flavorful and spicy Mexican fare.
SINFONIA CONCERTANTE – “a concerto for more than one solo instrument” – Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary
The renga reading was held at Emporia State University and hosted by Kevin Rabas of ESU (http://www.facebook.com/roy.beckemeyer#!/events/266004003528732/) . Kevin’s professorial prowess and poet’s panache resulted in a quite satisfying evening; he attended to the little extras that make a big difference, such as posting students and staff members at various locations in the student union to direct attendees, having a nicely arranged room, refreshments, tables for displays of books, and a warm and receptive audience.
Kevin first introduced Kansas Poet Laureate Emerita Denise Low and current Laureate Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, both of whom talked and read some of their work before the renga reading began. A number of the poets at this reading had ties to Emporia and ESU, which helped to make the event even more special. As different poets show up at different readings, the tenor of the renga changes each time. An interesting aspect of this reading was that there were two husband-wife couples and a father-son pair among the 12 poets who read. The poets read in the order in which their poems appear in the renga; most of them quoted from the poem that immediately preceded theirs in the book and that provided the inspiration for their poem. Reading were: Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, Hazel Smith Hutchinson, Bill Sheldon, Roy Beckemeyer, Kevin Rabas, Denise Low, Ken Lassman, Pat Beckemeyer, Shawn Pavey, Dan Pohl, Cheryl Unruh, and Tyler Sheldon. Audience members were attentive and interested, and the reading was a delight for the poets. The ambience remained warm and friendly afterwards, with lots of dialogue and discussion of poetry.
Thanks so much to Kevin for managing the event, to Caryn for shepherding all those poets through the process of bringing the renga to fruition and for turning it into a manuscript, and to Denise for publishing the book as part of Mammoth Publications’ rich catalog (http://www.mammothpublications.com/).
A second INTERMISSION, as Pat and I drove back to Wichita the morning of Saturday, March 2, 2013, for the final event of the weekend. A beautiful sunny day for a drive through the Flint Hills, which still had a blanket of snow covering the grass from last week’s storms, made the trip delightful.
CHACONNE – ” a musical composition…consisting typically of continuous variations based on a repeated succession of chords ”
We arrived back in Wichita just in time to drive to the March meeting and brunch of the Wichita Branch of the National League of Pen Women (http://www.nlapw.org/). Evelynn Boal and Dee Smith had invited me to do a program on the topic: “What Prompts the Poet.” As you might guess by now, to get a poet to do anything, you must feed him/her. After breaking our fast with quiche, pastry, fruit and coffee, I proceeded to the program. I had assembled a list of topics that I felt were good prompts for poets, discussed them briefly, then asked audience members to choose one of the prompts, and I responded by reading a poem of mine that had that prompt as its origin. At the completion of the program, they were gracious enough to invite Pat to read as well; she presented her renga poem – a nice ending for a weekend of food and poetry.
– Roy Beckemeyer