This weekend I took my daughter to her first poetry reading. I have always felt quite blessed to have so many generous and talented poets so near to my New Jersey home, and sure enough, Diane Lockward gave a rather interestingly purposed reading in one of our local libraries this past Saturday.
The "interesting purpose" had to do with the origin of the reading: four students at Caldwell College, as an alternative to writing a research paper, worked with Diane to design, publicize, and host a reading of her works that they had a hand in selecting and ordering for her. It's a terrific idea, and with Diane's teacher's demeanor, it came off quite well. It was for the students - by their own admission at the reading - their first contact with contemporary poetry, at least that they could recall. If one has to come to the art late, one could do much worse than to start with "Linguini".
Of course, the more important first contact was happening next to me in the audience. I'll spare you the fatherly nonsense; all you need to know is that she loved the event. I don't need to know if it was the friendliness of the crowd (which included NJ Po-Sceners Charlotte Mandel, Jessica De Koninck and Anthony Buccino, among others I'm sure I'm forgetting as I type this), the access to the art, the grown-up feeling about the event, or something that her middle-aged Dad wouldn't understand anyway (that infinitely-large and growing category). I'm just grateful for the chance to offer poetry to her this way.
As I learn more about myself and the legacy I covet, I suspect this past Saturday afternoon will become more important to me. I can only hope she begins to feel the same someday.