Askew Poetry Reading Videos

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Yesterday Linda and I did a yoga class together at Kava Yoga, which is right next to a coffee shop at which many faculty and students have given readings of their poetry and fiction. We had gone the night before for a “gentle, restorative” session, which lived up to its description; returning for a slightly more challenging session at noon, I found myself more stiff and inflexible than I realized I had become. It was the same condition I was in when we enrolled in a series of classes in the spring of 2004 as I was finishing my dissertation. The classes truly helped me both physically and mentally as I pushed through the final draft. I got less than eight hours sleep over four whole days in the week culminating with the turning in of the physical document, in part due to the demands of the T.A. work I was doing simultaneous with the final draft; and I doubt I could have managed that without having been primed by the self-compassionate work of yoga. I certainly hope never to face a job challenge like that again, but starting a consistent practice of yoga is something I have to give more priority.

In the same way that yoga is crucial for the body and mind, the memorization of poetry has proved to be a valuable restorative practice in terms of close listening (as opposed to close reading). For better or worse, I read with an internal voice sounding out the words as I perceive them on the page. In reading poetry, the challenge is to interrogate the familiarity that can set in when only that internal voice is listened to. One of the ways in which this interrogation gets most interesting is when the memorized poem is presented in public, in front of strangers. One such recent occasion for me was the Askew poetry reading at Beyond Baroque.

Phil Taggert recently sent along a message containing links to videos of the Askew Poetry reading. It was one of the most enjoyable readings I’ve been part of for some time. Phil and Marsha de la O had invited me to attend this event, though since I wasn’t aware of any poem I had in the upcoming issue, I really didn’t expect to read. I suppose I could have recited one of the shorter poems I’ve memorized of my own work, but I had memorized Mark Van Doren’s “When the World Ends” this past semester as part of the discipline of memorization that I require of all my students and decided to present that poem instead.

As Phil noted in his message, you can click on the link and it will start playing the sequence of the readers without having to make any further use of the mouse. If you want to start with my “cover” of Van Doren’s poem, here’s the link to that:

VIDEOS OF ASKEW magazine’s contributors – Beyond Baroque – December 7, 2013
first poem of the Askew reading url

AskewPoetryJournal youtube page