As a poet, another form of my activism is to encourage people to write, read, and listen to poetry, and to remind those who fear they don’t understand or “get” poetry that a poem can speak to you the same way that other written words do, can touch you the same way an emotional experience does, and can please your ears the way music does. In fact, it often does all of these at once.
I’m going to promote two ways to listen to poetry, both of which are the activism and volunteer work of fellow poetry lover Fran Sanders. After I posted about Everyday Activism, Fran wrote inviting me to record my work for her program “Poet’s Corner,” which is broadcast as part of Sight Into Sound Radio, Houston Taping for the Blind. This is her activism, and she’s been doing it for 16 years. Fran is also on the board of Houston’s newest reading series, Public Poetry, which has featured me as a reader (and will again in November). We met after I was chosen to read for Public Poetry.
A few weeks ago, at the Houston Taping for the Blind studio, Fran and I recorded a thirty minute program on state of the art digital recording equipment. I read my poems while Fran monitored my mistakes and “umms” and instantly corrected them. They have 15 recording booths, where volunteers read and record everything from magazines to textbooks for their weekly programming and special requests. They also have a broadcast studio where they read the Houston Chronicle live every morning, every page. You can listen to them streaming on the internet 24/7 here (look for Listen on the right). Those who are visually impaired can listen on free digital radios, so if you know someone who can benefit from this service, be sure to get in touch. Also, they always welcome volunteers, so if you have some time and a desire to help others, go and talk to them. Everyone I met over there is very friendly.
You can browse the Poet’s Corner archive here, and click on my name or another poet’s name to listen.
If you live in Houston, come check out the next installment of Public Poetry, Saturday, July 2 at 2 p.m. at Kendall Neighborhood Library, 609 N. Eldridge, 77079. The featured poets are listed on the left, and you can read about them here. I have attended two events and read at one; they are well organized and entertaining, starting with guest readers who show how poetry intersects with their own work, proceeding to a diverse mix of poets reading published and new work, and ending with talented young writers who will impress you. I hope to see you there. That way, when someone asks you, “What did you do yesterday?” you can give an unusual answer along the lines of “I went to a really awesome poetry reading and hung out with the poets afterwards.” This will sound quite impressive to anyone who believes the myth that all poets are dead, that poetry is dead, or that no one writes poetry anymore. Prove them wrong.
Also, Public Poetry is looking for a summer intern, and volunteers who can help out an hour a week or even once a month. More information here. If you’d like to help, Fran will be glad to hear from you: firstname.lastname@example.org.