Arts and Entertainment

Bainbridge Poetry month celebration stretches into May

Notice any poetry lately?

That’s a trick question. The Bainbridge Island Arts and Humanities Council, which organizes a plethora of events in honor of National Poetry Month, had 13 events listed on its Web site. In fact, there is such an abundance of poetry on the island that it’s spilling over into May.

No worries. The poets who gather for the San Carlos Poetry Reading aren’t all that particular about when the reading gets done: it started out on Friday nights, condensed to a single event in March, then moved to April. This year, the island’s literary luminaries will assemble from 1-4 p.m. May 2 at San Carlos Restaurant on Madison Avenue.

And for the record, they’ve been doing so longer than National Poetry Month has been in existence. By more than a decade.

“It’s become an institution.” said poet Bob McAllister. So has McAllister’s role as emcee for the event, some would say, but Lee Jorgenson, co-owner of San Carlos and the events founder, warned McAllister not to rest on his laurels.

“This is no time to get complacent,” he said. “I know I don’t pay Bob, but you know the saying – what have you done for me this year?”

At the recent Read a Favorite Poem event at the library, Jorgenson explained how, in 1984, not long after San Carlos opened, the restaurant consumed all his time. He gravitated to poetry, because its concise form could be enjoyed in small pockets of time. He was particularly attracted to potent forms that packed a punch. Short, but not necessarily sweet.

Like the drinks that will be available in the adjacent cantina, the important thing to remember is a little goes a long way.

“Write mountains but retain a single pebble,” wrote McAllister in “Cautionary Note for San Carlos Poetry Reading.”

“See endless flocks of birds but speak

Of the one Trumpeter Swan dead in Dabob Bay.”

People are encouraged to read their work or simply listen to others, said poet and event coordinator Karen Perry. Arrive about 12:50 p.m. to sign up to read. A time limit (about five minutes) allows enough time for everyone to read. The long-standing – or in this case, sitting – group enjoys a friendly comraderie.

“It is like going to a big friendly family gathering, even if you don’t know many of the ‘family’ members,” Perry said. “They are still fun and supportive of you. It is a pretty scare-free place to read one’s poetical work.”

McAllister has another word for the “family.”

“Reprobates,” he called them.

“There is a lot of laughing and joking around as the three hours race by,” Perry said.

All ages are invited and encouraged. Admission is free. All it costs is an afternoon and enough courage to read your work in front of other people.

How about yours?

Get institutionalized

The San Carlos Poetry Reading is from 1-4 p.m. May 2 at where else? – San Carlos on Madison Avenue. Info: call 842-1999.

Community Events, April 2014

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