POETS


Yesterday I went to a local gathering. This particular event happens only once every two years. Maybe that’s one reason it was an overflow crowd, but it wasn’t the only one. People came because they were interested.

This weekend I also attended a political meeting, where several folks running for office presented their viewpoints. This group did not draw nearly the crowd as the other, despite the fact pizza was served.

The first group was a poetry reading. Actually, it was for the purpose of selecting this county’s next official poet laureate, an event that happens every two years. The previous laureates all read samples of their poetry; there were eight of them. Our first laureate, Jim Lyle, was unable to attend so someone else read his work for him. The two finalists were John Hoey and Casey Carney. Ms Carney, a young lady from the City of Clearlake, was chosen laureate for the next two years.

The point of all this is that poetry draws crowds. It looks like more people like poetry than politics. There’s not even any money in it, or not much. There is a power in words well constructed that few politicians understand. Perhaps if I were to hear a candidate addressing the crowd in iambic pentameter, I might vote for him/her. As for myself, I’m only a writer, a teller of stories and of lies. I regard a good poet as a higher form of life, sort of like a dolphin.

Beware of poets, for they present strange thoughts. Years ago in San Francisco, during the Hippy Age, the police raided a poetry reading at a coffee house. The reason they gave was “public safety.” On hearing this I breathed a sigh of relief. At last, I thought, the authorities understand. Poets can be dangerous.

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