In 2010 Poet’s Corner was started here at Scarritt-Bennett Center. Since its beginning 60+ poets have participated in the monthly readings, some coming from as far away as California, Pennsylvania and Georgia. Various themes have surfaced: religious and faith based; emotions including love, hate, hurt, frustration, etc; personal reflections and observations of life; nature; resistance to the “isms” of society. Our initial purposes were to provide a space for poets to read their work in an informal setting, to talk about their poems, and to be in dialogue with the audience. Audiences have included family, friends, former students, other poets, and many simply interested in hearing good poetry.
Poetry comes in many forms – some in classic literary style such as a sonnet, while some almost seems and reads like prose. Whatever the style, poems express emotion; reflect the poet’s view of the world; gives new meaning often times to reality; evokes feelings from the reader/listener; opens one’s eyes to the beauty and the ugly in the world; explores dreams and the “what ifs” of life; and explores God and religion using new metaphors that challenge and inspire.
In the United States today more and more poets are using their skills and words to be “politically responsibile” members of society by expressing their resistance to racism, anti-immigrant feelings, the degradation of women, the plight of the environment/climate; religious superiority, etc. They are challenging what they are seeing and experiencing as environment controls are withdrawn; Muslims are seen to be evil; racial minorities are profiled by police; bullying is not only on the playground but in Washington, DC. In January of this year we co-sponsored here a poetry reading “Writers Resist” with the participation of 20 poets and an attendance of over 100 people. It showed that individually and together poets can have an impact on people’s reaction and response to these important issues. Poets of today are following the long tradition of resistance including such persons as William Wordsworth, Charles Wesley, Walt Whitman, and Emily Dickinson and more recently Maya Angelo, Ted Kooser, Tiana Clark and Joseph Powell.
Bill Brown will be reading at Poet’s Corner on Thursday, March 23 at 7:00 PM in Harambee Auditorium in Fondren Hall. Bill writes of what he sees on the evening news in “And”:
“Friday, home from work, I flip on the war
and watch a group of marines help a family
bury their dead, and it seems that soldiers
called the car to stop with bull horns,
but was the driver deaf?…”
On Thursday, April 27 at 7 PM in Fondren Hall, Jamie Collins will be reading his poetry. In his new book Poems from the Wild River of Life we read “Become the Rose.”
“Walking through this world,
see a rose bush.
What we do next speaks
who we are.
Do we walk by, barely noticing the flowers?
Too busy with more important things.
Do we pick a rose to brighten our dull life?
Then, in a few days throw it in the trash.
Do we stop and smell the fragrance?
Enjoy the moment or a memory.
do we become the rose, giving our
fragrance freely to life.”
Come to hear these poets and others each month. Let your mind soar with metaphors of beauty, hope, love and justice.
Joyce D. Sohl has been Laywoman-in-Residence since 2009 as a full-time volunteer. She retired as CEO of United Methodist Women in 2004. She is the author of 4 books, a teacher, retreat leader, writer and non-professional musician. Here at the Center her work is in the area of Spirituality & the Arts with such programs as Tuesdays in the Chapel, Vespers & All That Jazz, Poet’s Corner, and quarterly retreats and art exhibits.