Poetry for Everyone

April 21, 2009

Every single Poetry for Everyone program of the past two years has been special.  It’s just so special for people to pick out a poem and share a little about why they like it and why it has special meaning.  The program is a chance for people to connect across all boundaries.  Al Roberts, who is the Chair of the Library Board of Trustees, talked about his love of history and then read us “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere” at the Main Library.

At Stanford L. Warren Library, Nathan and Wanda Garrett, who are, respectively, the chairman emeritus of North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance and a retired attorney & community activist, “performed” a joint reading of “Strong Men” by Sterling Brown.  This was a powerful reading, which begins:

They dragged you from homeland,
They chained you In coffles,
They huddled you spoon-fashion in filthy hatches,
They sold you to give a few gentlemen ease.

This past Sunday afternoon, as at each program, I had the opportunity to read a couple of poems.  Like last year, I picked a Billy Collins poem, this one called “The Trouble with Poetry.”  He refers to a poetry book by Lawrence Ferlinghetti that he carried with him “up and down the treacherous halls of high school,” so I also picked out and read Ferlinghetti’s “Two Scavengers in a Truck, Two Beautiful People in a Mercedes.”  It’s also about connecting people across boundaries.

At Parkwood Library, Chief Jose Lopez started with “Bad Boys, Bad Boys, Whatcha Gonna Do?” (the COPS theme).  But he was just joking and switched over to “Casey at the Bat,” which he read with relish.  He said he’s not that much into poetry, but his reading was good, like all the readers.  Tra Farrington is in high school & is ready to go to college in the fall.  He truly wowed the audience by not just reading but performing two of his own poems, including “I’m Not a Poet.” That title is really a bit of irony, given what the two poems demonstrated to us all.

The library’s Humanities Coordinator, Marian Fragola, dreamed up Poetry for Everyone last April for National Poetry Month.  Durham is blessed with great people, and Marian contacts many of them to pick a favorite poem or two and tell about them and read them at these events.  Maybe next year we can hear her read one of her favorites.  Or maybe even this coming Sunday afternoon at East Regional Library, the final event before Pat Mora comes to town for the “finale” poetry reading on April 30.  And in case you didn’t know, Pat Mora is the founder of the nationwide program Children’s Book Day, El día de los libros.

See you there!


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