Saturday, October 16, 2004

Thoughts on The House of Poetry

I like this poem. I read it for the first time sitting in the main tent at Duke Farms. It was inside the front cover of the program. I was sitting to review the schedule and plan what I was going to do over the next four days. Who was here? What time were they reading? Where were they reading? The map on the back of the program showed the festival layout. There were several tents set up around the grounds. Snake Root. Smartweeds. Mud Lake. (How apt that name turned out to be!) Mermaid Fountain. The Main Stage. Not a special name but a special place as it could seat three thousand people. It stretched down from the outlines of what had been the manor house for this property. The tent came down in steppes, almost a natural amphitheater, rectangular, not half-moon. Across what was the great lawn, now covered by the tent, and rows of chairs; new forest green plastic lawn chairs (comfortable for long sitting), older brown folding chairs (not comfortable).

As I got to walk around, I realized that this poem had indeed been written for this place. Paul had stood here. At the top of this bank. Before the tents were erected. Maybe imagining the tent. Certainly imagining the “House of Poetry”. You see, the house was never built here. It is just the ruin-like foundation of something grand. It was a good spot for a house. It overlooked the water on three sides. The long green, now muddy, lawn, now marked by straw-strewn pathways between the main stage and the paths through the woods to the other tents. Further along the lawn past the food tent, to the bookstore tent, and to Mud Lake. Yes, it was aptly named. They didn’t really count on the rain coming like it did. It made the place a mess Thursday, and then for the remainder of the festival. Creative students got bags from the book store to tie them over their shoes for protection. This looked okay. High school students have a unique look anyway. When I saw some old ladies doing the same thing, I regretted not having a camera. This was a sight to remember.

I like this poem. I like it more each time I read it. It grows on me. It is laying a foundation for something. Come back and see what it looks like!

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