Sunday, January 27, 2019

A Pattern For Change

Yesterday I took in two hours of the 25th Annual Woodland Pattern poetry marathon. This event is a fundraiser to sponsor programming for Woodland Pattern Bookstore throughout the year.

The way the event works is people are asked to get sponsors to donate on behalf of them, then they read for 5 minutes during an hour that they sign up to read in. Personally I think it is the perfect event for someone who says they don't like poetry. The reason being, you are exposed to such a broad range of poetry styles and poet personalities, that if you don't like someone, just wait 5 minutes and you'll get to hear someone else. It's a poetic smorgasbord.

I actually read at one of their events about 5 years ago as part of an AllWriters' sponsored hour. I remember being super nervous. It was the event where I joked that I was Wisconsin's tallest poet and someone from the audience with a slightly less disjointed sense of humor corrected me and said he knew of someone taller.

Hence my moniker as "Wisconsin's second tallest poet." (Again, it's a joke. Really.)

Huston passes the torch to Rozga
This event featured the induction of a new Poet Laureate for the State of Wisconsin. Margaret Rozga was named the 2019/2020 poet laureate, replacing Karla Huston. Margaret was part of the Father Groppi protests of the late 60's and has always been a voice for racial justice and unity. As someone said yesterday, I cannot think of a better person to be holding the post at this point in our divided country's troubled present. She will be amazing.

The hours I was present featured a group of my colleagues from the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets as well as multiple past Wisconsin Poet Laureates. It was some of Wisconsin's finest all gathered in one room.

Anyway, the two hours I was there were really inspiring. It is clear that poets have a passion for the world, for our children, for the pain of life and for the beauty of all of it. There were gay and lesbian, young and old, fat and thin, and, yes, short and tall. Like anyone, I liked some better than others.

One poem in particular by Bob Hanson stuck with me. It was titled Symbiosis and it talked about the interrelated nature of everything and was very much on point.
Marilyn Taylor

But there were too many good ones to talk about There were poems on politics, the environment, death, life, social justice, gender and age issues, nature, work, travel and on and on.

The message of many of them though was we need to treat each other and the world with more respect. We need to stop hurting and do something ABOUT the hurting. We need to stop oppressing and do something FOR the oppressed. We need to stop worrying about the environment and do something to HELP it.

It is too bad that these voices were contained to a small room in the Riverwest neighborhood of Milwaukee. The messages should be required listening for every politician and military leader in the city/state/country.

And while some would argue that the words will not have any effect on changing the world, I would beg to differ. The words changed some of the people in the room, myself included, and those people can then go out and change the world in some small way.

I, for one, plan to be part of that change.

Blogging off...

P.S. Margaret Rozga will be reading from her book Pestiferous Questions at Mama D's in Wales on February 20th at 7:00 as part of their featured poet series. Don't miss it!

Wisconsin Fellowship of Poet Readers @ WP Poetry Marathon

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