Poems & Lindsay Sharp’s Interview for National Poetry Month April Fool’s Day Poem at Dagny’s
To celebrate National Poetry Month in Bakersfield, poets gathered at 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on April Fool’s Day at Dagny’s Coffee Shop, encouraged to write by Kern County’s poetry lady, Portia Choi.
The kind of poem we composed is called an “Exquisite Corpse” in which you read one entry written by someone else, then write your own.
Your words may respond to the previous poem, or have a different theme.
Contributing poets were: Samuel Rain Benjamin, Portia Choi, Christopher Craddock, January Joyce, Z Kamara, Carla Joy Martin, Alan McAfee, Heather Ponek, Lindsay Sharp and Suzanne Weller.
We asked poet Lindsay Sharp the following questions about the event and she shared some beautiful insights below.
Q. What was it like to be part of a communal poetry composing project at Dagny’s? How did the poems flow or fit together – or did they stay separate and distinct? Would you recommend other poets to do more events like this? What is special about sharing our words?
A. Thank you for inviting me to share some reflections about the Exquisite Corpse poetry event. I enjoyed the whole experience in deep ways I have yet to fully understand. When Portia invited me she said, with such clarity of heart, “Lindsay, you’re a poet! You should add your line to the poems!” It wasn’t the first time someone called me a poet, but it was the first time it seemed true. And it’s very hard to say “no” to Portia. Overall, the call to participate was less about me and more about wanting to experience the collective artistic mind of our community. I most looked forward to hearing the poems read aloud. That was just as, if not more, important to me than sharing my own voice. I felt drawn to this for some greater purpose and it still feels mysterious and abundant to me
The whole process was very powerful. Even just sitting down alone, adding my line, carried a weight to it. Like a cross between, confession, writing a secret love letter and voting, it was as if what we were doing forecasted a greater impact somehow. Hearing all our voices together was beautiful and it did flow together perfectly. Exquisite is the word, like a mosaic of light. The diversity in the tones reflected the richness of our community. From subject to subject, voice to voice, it was all one poem, all one poet, both dissolving into one fragrance.
It was that fragrance I wanted to experience; like the petrichor of Bakersfield or the scent of its citrus blossoms, I thought maybe the poetry of the people has a fragrance, too. So much of Bakersfield’s beauty is in its people. It must be true that there are artists in every city, but we seem to be saturated with them. Everyone from musicians to dancers to culinary artists, etc. I would also say we carry the art of self-aware sense of humor. We know we aren’t one of the popular kids. We aren’t LA or SF. But therein lies our charm. The fact that we aren’t those fact-paced, crammed-in, identity oriented, high-cost-of-living places, we have the time to create art. We have the time and space to cultivate and share our gifts. I love the word “cultivate” when it comes to art in this valley because it is the perfect metaphor for what can happen on this fertile soil. We are so abundant, we feed the world. What if this abundance has a correlation with something more of spirit? Can the art and poetry of this community be the thing that nourishes us back?
Poetry not only nourishes me, it invites me to be truly free. I have come to realize that art is the highest expression of a human being and so it could be said is the highest expression of God. Maybe this whole thing is an art project. Connecting consciously to art; poetry, dance, designing video games, making coffee etc, we are connecting to our very being. It’s more than connection, it’s celebration. By creating a piece together, we are engaging in strengthening the integrity of our community. I believe the energy of artistic community events radiates out, and acts as, in the very least, a kind of blessing for our place here on earth. Poetry is not only an expression of our freedom and divinity, I also see it as an act of rebellion.
Sitting down to contribute freely from my mind and make time to listen to the poem being read aloud, dissolved all worlds of consumer, hurry or hustle culture in my mind. There was nothing to gain, nothing to lose, nothing to earn, no value to measure, nothing to ask for in return. It was simply time to make art for art’s sake. All other possible parallel lives and trajectories of my day collapsed and I went to Dagny’s as a whole person that day. I took my time and was deliberate. Nothing was going to rush opening the heart. I didn’t have any plans with regard to what I would write and yet when I sat down, my mind started speaking and I ended up feeling more like a dutiful messenger or translator and less like a creator. Whatever happened, it felt like rebellion to carve out a space for something purely creative and communal like that. Dilating time by creating this poetry was empowering like when standing in an ocean tide that tries to draw you back into itself, but cant knock you over, only shifting the sand beneath you. When we make art, we are claiming our rightful, upright, enlightened place in evolution by engaging with and expressing this power that is life itself.
Here are the new community-created poems:
Exquisite Corpse written at Dagny’s on April Fools Day, 4/1/23
Rain quenched the thirst of barren river bed.
Rain, rain, please don’t go away
And stay here for another day
We’re thirsty for another drink
Of cool clean water from the creek
The drought is gone and we rejoice
To hear your calm and soothing voice
I stand in the midst of a baptism
The rain falls like fire and after I’m
made brand new
Plink, plonk, plink
At first – an anticipation
Then pitter-pat, pitter-pat –
The heavens are singing.
How tiny and helpless is man.
All will feel the rain,
If not on your face then you know the rain
was there by feeling the wet grass.
The gibbous moon looked like a bowl, once the cloud curtain parted. It poured the
rain on the people below like a benediction.
The Rain Around Me
She was like the air around me
raining down like the wind
she said I came here for you
she was natures blessing shining down
I was captured by her smile
my eyes open wide
and like California I miss her
The rain recognizes you, let it. The sun recognizes you,
let it. All apparent separation dissolves into the
illusion that it is. Water into water.
Cleanse me rain, set my soul free
As I bask and melt with thee
You dance, you kiss my window pane
For I so love the bliss of rain
Exquisite Corpse written at Dagny’s on April Fools Day, 4/1/23
Smile is warmth
Your smile goes for miles. It flows into my heart
and gives me a warm feeling
Your smile is hearth in the center of my joy
Your smile is a gift that tingles my toes
I do not know you,
I do know you,
I know the smile
I will sit with that a while.
Even a hypocritical smile will trigger your endorphins. Say “cheese” and then hold it while the photographer fumbles over the exposure. You’ll start to feel happier for real.
What is real but that deep, cosmic ever smiling being?
In the background of our minds is the ground of peace.
An arrangement of the infinite reflects like the Mona Lisa
Because when we are smiling, we are closer to the truth.
Exquisite Corpse written at Dagny’s on April Fools – 4/1/23
With a muffin, brownie, milk or not
Cup or mug, cold or hot
Down it fast, sip it slow,
In the soft chair, or on the go.
Never had a bad cup in my life.
Elixer of the gods,
Imbue my mortal frame
Fill me with light and longing
My muse, my love, my game
Fill it to the brim. Maximum coffee!
No room for cream. No time for cream.
No desire for cream. No interest in cream what so ever.
Kohio No Mimasu!
From the darkest dark was born a spark. Deep chocolate smokey tones of the void cultivated just the right conditions for light. The lotus, like a blooming of inner cream, rises from within forever altering the taste.