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No need to rhyme

Open-mic poetry invites free expression

Open-mic poetry invites free expression

April 11, 2006|by HIRA ZEB

The aroma and heat of my coffee warms me as I sit down at Port City Java, a popular coffeehouse in North Hagers-town, on one of the Tuesday evenings that are traditionally designated for open-mic poetry. I am not sure what to expect but nonetheless, I am excited for the evening to start. A man named Tommy Lancaster set the mood by playing us a few mellow tunes on his guitar.

He said a few words on the importance of self-expression and poetry, and invited people to come forward and read their poetry to the audience.

A few people took turns reading either their own poetry or selected poems from a favorite book by an established author. One guy read from a published book of his own poetry. Whether rhyme or free verse, funny or serious, these poems were reflections of the authors and their thoughts. It was exhilarating to see the world from their perspective and, just for a moment, see society from their eyes.

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After the last brave soul shared her poetry with my fellow coffee-drinkers, I found myself wondering, "Why don't I share my own poetry?" I have since then resolved to bring my own poetry next time and share my own thoughts with people just like me.

April is National Poetry Month and, all across the country, people will celebrate the beauty of words and vocal art. It is a great way to release inner emotions and communicate in words what you cannot speak. The month was inaugurated in April of 1996 and brings together poets, publishers, booksellers, and many more to participate in nonprofit events such as readings, festivals, book displays and workshops.

Actually, in April this year, the Academy of American Poets will initiate the Poetry Read-a-Thon. This program is directed toward middle-school students, grades five to eight. The goals for this program are simple: to appreciate the reading of poetry and the writing of poetry; and to develop a student's writing skills. To find out more about this program and general events during this month, visit www.poets.org.

Sometimes, when I read poetry, I find myself searching for a hidden message or meaning within the text. I realize now that this process, though sometimes useful and worthwhile, can be like a blind search for truth. Everyone interprets things in different ways. What I see in a poem might not be what a friend sees in the same poem.

After awhile, I learn to simply appreciate the aesthetic nature of the poem and really feel the words, not try to analyze them and figure out the "right" meaning.

I think it is more important for a poem to touch you, and be applicable to your own life, experiences or thoughts. I agree with Billy Collins, from "Introduction to Poetry," when he says, "The urge to 'tie the poem to a chair with rope and torture a confession out of it' lessens when poetry arises freshly each day."

Port City Java is located in Long Meadow Shopping Center. Open-mic poetry nights are on Tuesdays. It's a thrilling experience and bringing a friend can help you take a risk and strut your stuff.

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