My creative writing teacher from high school always said poetry was written to be read aloud. I never really understood what she meant until I attended Melissa Green and Meg Tyler’s poetry reading this past Wednesday night for my Literary Citizenship class.
I’ve always had an interest in poetry since I was a child and my mother would read me Shel Silverstein before bed. This interest soon developed into a love for writing and numerous afternoons spent writing pages of pose both good and bad. Since I already liked the subject, and didn’t want to stress about finding the time to attend a literary event at the end of the semester, this seemed like the perfect time for me to buck up and write a blog post for the class blog. Prior to attending this event I had little to no idea what to expect. I’d never heard of either of these poets and a google search procured few helpful results. I had also never been to a poetry reading before. I had a multitude of questions: What do I wear? Should I snap once they finish reading or was that just a gross cliché? Would I know anyone there? Should I prepare questions to ask? Where even is the poetry center?
Basically I was clueless, but I’ve found that when I have no expectations I usually end up having the best time. With all these thoughts running through my head I donned my best turtleneck, grabbed my notebook and glasses, and made my way up to the poetry center on the second floor of the Sawyer library (located in 73 Tremont).
I found the room easily enough, following another student who looked like the type that would be attending a poetry reading, and settled for a seat in the back. The room was filled with teachers from the English department but a few students were scattered amongst the crowd. There was free coffee in the back which I was endlessly thankful for, having a large amount of homework waiting for me back in my dorm.
The night kicked off with Meg Tyler who read from her collection of poems titled Poor Earth. Each piece was breathtaking in its own right with clear, concise imagery. Her poems had a lot of movement to them and an immense amount of power behind them despite their simplicity. I’m always in awe of the way poets can pull at your heart with the simplest lines. One of her poems, I regretfully forget the name, was about picking up her daughter from school. There was a part where her daughter exits the school and looks around fearfully like she expected her mother to be missing from the crowd but Tyler exclaimed, “I am always there”. A simple line in itself but it reminded me of a story my mom tells about when I was in preschool. I, allegedly, would beg her to wait in the parking lot so she be there on time when I was done. That kind of innocent fear that a mother might not come back is heartbreaking but still resonated heavily with my own life. Tyler in herself was incredibly charming with a soft voice and a slight accent. Her pieces had a melancholy sense to them, even the happy ones.
Up next was Melissa Green who read from her collection Magpiety. Her poems pulled me in from the get go. They were heavy with imagery, language, and embedded meaning but didn’t feel sluggish. The pacing was impeccable and I never lost interest, which I tend to do when pieces get too wordy. Her piece “Phi” was my favorite poem of the whole night specifically due to the lines, “I wish I’d known about the Golden Mean, / that my over brimming heart was a nautilus, / and not alone, and had poured out love everywhere, / for Fibonacci so long ago had made me his, / and I was part of the world, and known, and loved / to the smallest coral moon on my smallest fingernail”. I connected a lot with this piece also, having recently starting school at Suffolk. This year especially I feel like I’ve had to learn a lot of lessons about self-love. One lesson in particular is about how to be alone but not feel lonely which is easier said than done at times. This piece seems to me to focus deeply on self-acceptance and realizing that just because you don’t have the ideal life does not mean you do not lead an important life. Green’s work was so amazing that I ended up buying a copy of her book once the reading had finished.
In addition to the wonderful poetry the one thing that struck me was the amount of love in the room that night. There was an outpouring of support for each other that rivals anything I’ve ever seen. It takes a great deal of bravery to publish pieces, specifically poetry, and an even greater deal to read your work aloud to others you know well. It’s easy to talk about literary citizenship, what it means and how to do your share but I without a doubt witnessed literary citizenship in action that night. There was, as I said before, an immense amount of support produced from the crowd and it was powerful to see.
Attending this reading reminded me why I originally fell in love with poetry. It wasn’t because of the authors’ masterful use of language. It was because poems can do in a few short lines what some authors take a whole book to accomplish. Poets grab your attention from the first words and simple lines like “I am always there” can pull you back to stories that took place years in the past. They’re easy to identify with and can quickly put into words feelings you may not have known you were currently feeling. I’m incredibly happy I ended up attending this literary event and I’m definitely looking forward to attend several more!
Check out Meg Tyler’s collection here!
Check out Melissa Green’s collection here!