This was the first poetry reading I attended this year. I have not been to Crazy Wisdom in a long time, and I forgot how unique the space is. They sell books, art, jewelry, incense, tarot cards, fair trade products, etc. The tea room is upstairs, just like at Literati.
I did not realize that both Hannah Ensor and Suzi Garcia were reading at the event. Since I gave some background information on Hannah Ensor in my preview, here is some information on Suzi Garcia: she has an MFA in Creative Writing with minors in Screen Cultures and Gender Studies, and she has presented and taught poetry at multiple national conferences. She is a valuable mentor and editor to Ensor and was instrumental to the publication of Ensor’s first book of poetry.
I enjoyed hearing Ensor and Garcia’s unique styles. Ensor made a lot of pop culture references, as the description of the event promised. Her pieces were mostly conversational and captured the mundane to transform into literary pieces. Garcia, on the other hand, utilized a lot of metaphor and analogy. Her poems were emotional, raw, and often explored the theme of earthliness.
During the event, the poets also talked about their sources of inspiration, which were thought-provoking. Ensor talked about writing in a parking lot of Planet Fitness and how a poem was partially inspired by a screening of Jurassic Park. Garcia talked about how one of her poems emerged from three factors: the desire to find a home for a couplet she had written, being inspired by an old song she knew, and a mentor encouraging her to write about her childhood. All these motivations mashed together into one finished product. Another one of her poems came from listening to Carly Rae Jepsen’s song, “Run Away With Me.”
While it may be humorous to hear where both poets found their sources of inspiration, it is also sensible. I often hear people describe inspiration as rare and profound—as if artists are zapped by lightning from Zeus or launched into manic creativity by the use of psychedelics, and then go on to create great literary pieces or famous works of art like “My Papa’s Waltz” by Theodore Roethke or Autumn Rhythm by Jackson Pollock. As an aspiring poet, I know daily enlightenment is unsustainable. Practically, inspiration mostly comes from the mundane. Everything (objects, constraints, concepts) is worthy of a poem or artistic piece upon closer examination. But execution is difficult. I was given the prompt by my 400 level poetry writing class: “write a poem where the movement from one scene to another affects the structure and/or mood of the poem,” and I am currently scuffling with a blank page.
Aside from inspiration, this poetry event also made me consider the difference between hearing and reading poetry. Ensor and Garcia are clearly both written poets first and spoken poets second. It is quite obvious actually. When you read silently, the body of a poem is its layout on a page: the amount of white space, line breaks, enjambment, punctuation, etc. When you listen, the body of a poem is the voice (of the poet, yourself, another reader speaking out loud), rhythm, posture, gestures, etc. In poetry that is spoken, rhyming and rhythm becomes more evident and (arguably) increases in importance. Take Benjamin Zephaniah, a British poet and activist, for example. He is a spoken poet first, a written poet second. Hear his voice and the joy with which he performs “Dis Poetry.” Another example is Sarah Kay, an American poet dedicated to using spoken word as an educational and inspirational tool. See how facial expressions and gestures are essential to her piece “Point B.”
During Ensor and Garcia’s reading, they relied on minimal gestures, rhythm, and word-play to convey their pieces. This does not make them good or bad poets. Rather, it reveals their niche study (and perhaps interest) in written poetry. The event was not a spoken word poetry event; it was a poetry reading event. And a good one at that. I appreciated the casual atmosphere, both physically and intellectually. It was a great place for written poets and enthusiasts to come and celebrate the beauty of language.