by Portia Choi
The day was dawning when I arrived at Dagny’s Coffee at 6:55 am. The front door was locked, and there were workers inside with dim lights. When the main lights went on and the door was unlocked, several cars parked and several men got into Dagny’s. They seemed to be regular customers of the place; they found a table all to themselves near the window. I went to the smaller room of the coffee house to set up for the Day of Poetry. One of the workers unlocked the door to the smaller room and brought in several copies of the newspaper. When I went to order my caffeine-free hot tea, the customers were already reading the newspaper and sipping their latte or expresso.
I set up the room for the Day. There was the easel-sized post-it for our communal poem to be written one line at a time by all the poets and participants throughout the day. There was paper of various colors, crayons and markers for persons of all ages to doodle and relax. Today was to be spontaneous, to allow for flexibility and fun. It was the first time to have a whole day of poetry—better be flexible (I wasn’t sure what would happen or who would show-up). It was a nice thought to start the beginning of the year with lots of poetry.
To make the event seem friendly, there was a fruit bowl and water set out for any participants. I was thinking about what to write for the first line of the communal poem. The theme was to be on “NURTURE.” As I was thinking, it would be interesting to have the first poet help write that first line. As it happened, the first persons to come into the room was a father with a baby snuggled on his chest and also his daughter. I knew the father and daughter. I had not seen the baby before; I was told he was four months old. And his daughter had grown; she was now nine years old. The father was starting to feed the baby from a bottle. (How appropriate, I thought, to have a father nurturing his child as we were getting ready to write a poem about nurture.) I wanted the daughter to be relaxed, so she started to draw on a paper. Well, I thought, why not have his daughter help with the first line. She wrote: “Feeds, changes, love me.” Then I wrote the second line: “Listening, smiling, laughing.” So the communal poem about “NURTURE” started, and the poem would be written throughout the day with persons adding one line at a time, only seeing the previously written line. (The completed poem was read at the end of the day, and the poem is at the end of this story.)
Around 10:00 am, there were poets and friends who came to read their own poetry as well from their favorite poets.
Then there was a break for lunch. (Throughout the day there was food: fruit bowl all day, lunch boxes, and cookies in the afternoon)
At 1:00 pm, there was a guest poet LisaAnn LoBasso who happened to be at Dagny’s speak about poetry. Then the group helped with an “Exquisite Corpse.” This is a poetry game in which a person writes one word on a card which is a noun, adjective or a verb. The cards were collected and mixed up and a poem is written from the jumbled up cards with an adjective, noun, verb, adjective and noun. What was unique about the Day’s Exquisite Corpse was that the words of the poem were being drawn as the words were being spoken. This was possible since there was a poet, Thomas Lucero, who is also an artist at the event. When a word was read, he drew images on the easel. After the Exquisite Corpse was completed, there was a writing workshop. Each of the persons was asked to select a paper with different color. The instructions were to write down the first word that came to their mind inspired by the color. Then they were to write about the color: the feeling, smell, sound, sight and taste.
At the end of Day, there were two poems that were written together by the community of poets and friends:
(Each person wrote one line only seeing the previous one line written by another person.)
Feeds, changes, loves me
Listening, smiling, laughing
High love, we love, love
Patiently and tenderly
A lesson of nurture will last forever
I want to nurture to others that need help
Be who you are, shine from your heart then give it away, doing your part
Every act of love makes a difference
The time we take to weave our love into their hair
Trust in yourself. Love, one human being to another
It’s OK to make mistakes
Cut us down will grow again
When you fear rejection and you assume the worst, give someone a chance to prove you wrong
Forgiveness is more for your peace of mind than for the transgressor, give it freely.
I built a snowman yesterday, it was made of SNOW. . .
The radiance of the Sun made it melt and glow
Bear tracks glittered in the lightness
As we come face to face with the lion within
Simply ordinary. Chicken noodle soup. Down comforter. Flannel pajamas.
Make a suit. Made of pure clouds
. . .But when I came out yesterday to play, there MANY in a row. . .
All lined up, ready to love and be loved.
I wished to wrap you up in peace, to make you feel at home, to give you all my love
To love. To Encourage. To give unconditionally. To watch HER GROW & SET HER FREE.
O see love stand the test of time, to have her . . let me see me grow
(Each person wrote one word on a card, then the cards were mixed up and read out consecutively)
throwing solemn face
crazy flower, beautiful notebook help!
frenetic monolith holding radiant waterfall
complicated bees singing cowardly moss tower
luminate lusterous art