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What I learned by reading poetry in front of the Rotary club

Yesterday was the last day of National Poetry Month. We had a fun month here in the Pacific Northwest. It seems as if each year, more and more local community organizations get involved in promoting the arts.

Last night, I joined eight other poets for a reading at a local Rotary Club where we were featured in their program. I almost didn’t go to the reading because reading your work in front of other poets who you know is one thing, but reading your work in front of a group of strangers with probably no poetry background is quite another.

But, forcing myself to go fearward, I attended the event and I’m glad I did. We ate great food, had fun, and shared our poetry with others in the community who weren’t familiar with poetry. And, I think we dispelled a few myths about poets along the way: only one poet wore a beret, only one poet wore all black, and nobody dangled a cigarette from their lips while reading (though one poet did read her poem “19 Cigarettes” about when she tried to quit smoking).

We had a great sense of community and fellowship with the Rotarians and I learned something about what they do that I can translate into my own life and my poetry. At the beginning of the meeting, the president asked for people to share their “happy moments.” One by one, people stood and shared something that happened to them in the previous week that made them happy.

One man said he got to spend the weekend with his three grandchildren. Another man said he was happy because it was his wife’s and mother-in-law’s birthday and he explained how he was grateful they were in his life. Another person said she was happy because she finally got high-speed internet at home. This set the tone for the rest of the meeting. Everybody was so darn happy, it was contagious.

I’m going to try this for the rest of the week. Each morning when I rise and each evening before I fall asleep, I’ll say aloud one recent thing I’m happy for in my writing life and one thing I’m happy for in the rest of my life. I’ll keep a journal and see what happens. I have a feeling it might lead me to some happy new poems.

Want to try this with me? I’d love company!

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