(Entry below is an excerpt from an entry handwritten on 7/26/14)
It’s Saturday afternoon and it’s raining. So I’m glad I got my errands out of the way. Yesterday I went to a poetry reading for the first time in a long time. It was at a bookstore and was hosted by Afterword magazine. I took 3 free copies of back issues that were being offered, and also showed up hungry so I ate a lot of the cheese and crackers and pepperoni slices they were offering, along with some red wine. They didn’t seem to mind though.
I started chatting with John, the editor-in-chief, and his friend, Pat, also a contributor and part of the staff. We talked about my town and Jersey City, and this Lowe’s theater there that shows many classics like Hitchcock and Carrie and movies like that. I don’t know what John’s day job is, but Pat said he was a train conductor. They were both personable and friendly. And it made me feel comfortable to talk with them.
I told Pat how I used to write a lot of poetry, but haven’t written much lately, so I hoped that I would be inspired by coming to a poetry reading and listening to other people’s words. I told him how that usually works to inspire me and it ‘opens the mind.’ He agreed enthusiastically.
We talked how summer is so busy with friends and family events, and how John hoped people would show up to the reading. They plan to have another reading in October, to celebrate the release of the next issue. John has been publishing Afterword since 2008, which I found impressive.
The reading started late, and I found I was the only female there in attendance, with about 8 guys. Most of them read their work. They were good readers and their poems were interesting. And they even started a ‘collaborative’ poem, in which each person passed around a piece of paper with a poem (a few lines) that John had started, so that everyone could add their own couple of lines. That was fun to do and something I’ve never seen done at a reading before.
The poetry had many of the same themes- loneliness, isolation, heartbreak, some humor, human observation, anger, outrage. All in all, I was glad I attended and was exposed to different perspectives and new images. I was glad for the chance to get out of my own head for a while, and realize that everyone feels fucked-up every now and then. It’s nice to know I’m not alone.
This afternoon, the library was closed so I sat here on my couch and read the 3 issues of Afterword that I brough home from the reading. It was nice to be immersed in poetry again, in the insights of other people. Reading the issues inspired me to write a poem called ‘Adulthood’ – it’s a few pages back before this entry. It’s a fairly OK poem, nothing great but also not terrible. It feels good to be able to write anything at all.
John read our collaborative poem at the end of the reading, and said it would be published in the next issue. When giving the instructions for the collaborative poem, he said to just write ‘whatever is in your head,’ so that’s what I did. I didn’t want to think about it too much and miss out on the poetry that was being read.
John spoke about the importance of creativity, and how the whole point of the evening was to spark the creativity of those who attended. And I think the reading was successful in that mission. He talked about how we all work our day jobs, but when he gets home, he picks up his pen and expresses himself creatively. He said we should all be creative, just for ourselves, just to add interest to our lives, and make them more fun. And he was right.
He said not to worry about writing for money or publication, or fame and fortune, however great those things may be, but just for the joy of it, to be creative just for creativity’s sake. And I found that I could completely agree, and relate. Even though I usually don’t write or create as often as I’d like to, I still long to do it. To listen to myself and rediscover who I am at this stage of my life.
My mother will be retiring at the end of October. Recently, she started thinking about when she started working at her job and remembered that when my sister and I were little, we used to accompany my dad on Friday nights to pick up my mom from work. He had to drive into midtown Manhattan. She worked a night shift so it was too late and dangerous to take a train home.
She mentioned how funny it is that my sister and I were so little back then and she’s been at her company so long that now we have grown up and are professionals, working our own jobs.
It’s amazing to see how time passes and things change over the years. I started remembering and looking back at those nights we would go to pick her up from work.
It was exciting for us, we would get take-out on Friday nights and then leave a few hours later to ride into the city. It was always adventurous and interesting for our young minds. I always liked looking at the tall buildings and the lights on the bridges. I had nothing on my mind mostly, except maybe the song on the radio.
And things are so funny when you are a kid. I remember waiting in the lobby of my mom’s building one night. We had gotten there a little earlier or something and my sister and I decided to get out of the car and play in the lobby.
We had these little bouncing rubber balls that we would skip along the floor and across to reach the other wall on the far side of the lobby. The lobby was huge and empty. A perfect play area for two little girls.
The sounds of the rubber balls bouncing off the walls and across the floors would echo loudly through the building and we would giggle and then laugh again at ourselves because our laughter would echo even louder through the lobby.
We kept trying to play but be quiet at the same time. And this was totally amusing to us. We were simply being kids, enjoying ourselves, laughing and having a great time. Just because we could, just because we were alive.
It was an unexpected moment to remember and kind of relive just from my mother recalling us picking her up from work as little girls. And now she is retiring soon and we are in our 30s and my sister has a family of her own.
I’m grateful for happy, joyful memories of a carefree childhood. Those are the things people relive with their own kids and anyone who spends time with kids. A child’s thoughts are so simple and refreshing. They have no worries or real concerns. They live just for right now.