Up until last Thursday, I could confidently have told you that I had never been asked, nor had I ever answered, this particular question in my entire unpoetic lifetime. In fact, it would be safe to say that I have pretty much avoided poetry in a passive, oblivious kind of way.
Luckily/thankfully, I have some good friends who are way out ahead of interesting, edgy stuff like this who invited me to an evening of poetry that they had won in a silent auction. Twice cool here — my friends were actually in attendance at an event that would be auctioning off this kind of thing, AND, they actually bid on it!
This impromptu, cultured event was hosted on the cool, hip veranda at a cool, hip Minneapolis design firm, 45 Degrees Minneapolis. The evening began with a wine and brie meet-and-greet, followed by a brief introduction of the guest speaker/poet/bard (love that word), Gregory Hewett.
Hewett is an Associate Professor of English at Carlton College and has been a Fulbright Fellow, Fulbright Professor, and a Fellow at the Camargo Foundation, Cassis, France. He currently teaches American Literature and creative writing, and his fourth book of poems, darkacre, was published in 2010.
“Greg Hewett’s poems create fresh dimensions where language and human experience become one … from estate properties to artistic legacies … Hewett is a master architect of the poetic suite, and his house contains many mansions … a penetrating, richly metaphoric survey of the human landscape.”
Beyond academic accolades, Professor Hewett proved to be an extremely accessible teacher and very likeable guy. He was quickly able to assess the highly variable levels of poetic awareness in the room (Dr. Seuss counts on some level, right? … ), and tailor his approach to the readings accordingly. He gave us a smattering of things … writings by Whitman, Dickenson, Elizabeth Bishop, Carolyn Forche, Frank O’Hara, C.D. Wright … I rattle off these names as though I have any sense of the depth and context from which they assume their meaning.
As I ponder this neat new realm and “dwell in possibility” (to quote Dickinson — ha!) … it occurs to me that, until you’re aware of it, poetry, in all of its richness and complexity, is swirling all around you every day like a sound you can’t hear … a whole spectrum of colors you can’t see … like a firefly waiting in the woods until dusk. Beyond rhyme and meter - really, beyond the boundaries of reason – until you’re truly aware of it, poetry has properties at some quantum level that don’t even register, let alone resonate.
The Take-Away: I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Professor Hewett, and my beloved friends, for the poetry primer, a quick flash into this fascinating corner of the word world. Thanks to you, I am inspired to take some more steps along this fork in a road that, until now, has been way less traveled.