We were gathered around a large table for the neighborhood potluck. My husband and I are fortunate to live in a community where this is not a rare occurence. On this particular eve, we were celebrating a marriage. At some point during the meal, our neighbor J stood up and announced, “I’ve got a poem.” And he read that poem from his tall wiry Elvis Costello like frame with animation and emotion. I was sort of embarrassed, a bit amused and definitely intrigued. Days later I followed up with his wife, “Does he read poetry often?” “Oh yes,” she sighed “and he’s serious so I have to stop and listen. There was the time at our daughter’s 16th birthday…” her eyes roll to the back of her head and she relives the teenage embarrassment of the girls gathered for that event.
That was then. I’m not sure when things changed for me. Maybe it happened while taking a writing class or when I was helping with a school project for one of my children. Regardless of the when, at some point, poetry crept silently into my interests and began rearing it’s head. There was the purchase of a Shel Silverstein collection and an anthology put together by ee cummings. One evening I had the opportunity to listen to Naomi Shihab Nye read with a voice that was so lyrical I couldn’t tell where the poetry ended and where she cascaded into conversation. In Omaha, I listened to the creative poetic exchange between Ted Kooser and Kim Stafford and of course, I bought their books. On vacations I began challenging my friends and children to finish their days by writing haiku.
At dinner I often pull down a poem to read aloud. My kids roll their eyes unless there is a bad word (like pee) and then they giggle and decide that they liked it. At night Shel Silverstein’s fun and chaotic verse still weaves us into slumber. This is National Poetry Month. Read Poetry.
1 large fennel bulb, very thinly sliced
- 2 medium leeks, white part very thinly sliced
- 2 Tbs olive oil
- 1 16 oz. bag of pasta such as penne or bowtie
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 handfuls of peas (fresh shelled if possible)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Grated parmesan