Friday, October 31, 2008

Pipe Me Your Lobes!

The Deming Arts Council hosted the monthly open-mike reading sponsored by the Bel Canto Literary Circle last night, with punch and snacks and and a gallery stuffed with people aged 15 to 70.

The stars of the evening were members of the high school poetry club, with well-worn legal pads or notebooks by their sides. As I approached the home of the arts council, sitting on the bench by the front entrance was one young man, furiously writing away.

The young poets (and a local adult poet as well) read their own works while most of the rest read works by others. A local writer, man by the name of Howard Scott, recently passed away so there were several tribute readings to him. A woman got up and read a passage from the Declaration of Independence so we could savor the words. Another man read from a speech by Dwight Eisenhower about the ravages of war. Our host for the evening did a dramatic reading from a Tom Waits song.

In keeping with Halloween, I tried to channel the dead. I brought the text from Lord Buckley's hipster-poet version of Edgar Allen Poe's The Raven. It did not occur to me until I was there what an opportune choice that was. These young poets had never heard of Lord Buckley, and yet Lord Buckley, a man who absorbed the language of hipsters and junkies, who spoke verbal jazz as naturally as you and I breathe, was an early progenitor of rap and a compelling bard in his own right.

The teenagers loved it and wrote down his name. Meanwhile, listeners who had been teenagers themselves when Lord Buckley was riffing related happy memories. It had cross-generational swing, this groove, and the social hour was long.

And Lord Buckley was remembered.

No comments: