You’ll be seeing a few posts from me about URI’s Ocean State Summer Writing Conference. There was just way too much great stuff for me to squeeze into one post. One big highlight was the Keynote by Inaugural Poet Richard Blanco, who spoke about the big moment his agent called to share the news. He also shared the ways that being inaugural poet has affected his life and his mission.
Halfway through his talk, before he even shared about his mission to bring poetry back into our lives and our schools, I realized how much poetry meant to me in the past and how this love had been tainted for me by what I saw as a lack of interest in poetry nationally. I had come to wonder how relevant poetry was in our modern world. Blanco reminded me how poetry was not just relevant, but life-giving, vibrant and necessary.
Blanco’s stories of random Americans hugging him on the streets after hearing his inaugural poem–and his realization that Cubans without college degrees not only knew poetry but sang it and shared it regularly–put me back in touch with how HAPPY poetry had made me when I’d been immersed in it–reading it, writing it, sharing it.
In that moment I imagined sharing poems at the dinner table with my family–perhaps each of us bringing a favorite poem. Maybe inviting friends over for a poetry potluck. That night, more poets shared amazing poems–Mairead Byrne had the entire room in stitches with several hilarious poems and fragments and Kristin Prevallet‘s hypnotic poems remained with me for days.
Driving home afterwards, I had to pull over into the RiteAid parking lot and write, because the words kept flowing and the red light changed too quickly to get it all down. It felt so good to be writing poems again. I made myself a promise: no matter what I do, I’m writing one poem a day. They can be inspired; they can be silly, goofy, trite. I don’t care. Yesterday I wrote a poem with my six-year-old.
Thank you Richard Blanco, Mairead Byrne, Kristin Prevallet and everyone at the URI Ocean State Summer Writing Conference for putting poetry back in my life–where it belongs.