Poetic Friday

I travelled back to Victoria yesterday afternoon. The last time I drove to the ferry on the mainland I was lost, it was dark, and the rain appeared to be a permanent feature. This time it was slightly different. It was mid-day and the sun attempted to peak through the rain clouds making the rain the only challenge while navigating my way to the ferry.

While I impatiently waited at the ferry in hopes of making it on the 3:00pm boat, I received an email from my supervisor about a poetry reading taking place in Victoria later that day. Now, let me begin by saying, I do not understand poetry. Is it too much to ask you to just say what you mean versus making me do the work to figure out what you MIGHT be saying? As I read the email, I realized my supervisor was inviting me to the reading as one of the poets was sharing his stories of being initiated by the Sufic spirit Khedr during his pilgrimage to the Northern Orient.


Harold Rhenisch reading from one of his poetry books.

I got to the coffee shop, Hillside Coffee & Tea, about an hour before the poetry event was to begin. I thought it would be a good time to sit down and write. After all, I would eventually be sitting in a café full of writers so that energy had to spill over into my own writing, right?! Well, I was right. With pen in hand and a notebook laying flat open on my table accompanied by a hot chocolate, the words started to flow. I wrote a piece about dance and narrative that I had struggled to wrap my mind around for a couple weeks. I had no idea where to begin or what I was even trying to say. But as I wrote the open mic portion of the evening began and I wished I knew proper poetry etiquette.

The ink was flowing without hesitation and the pen nor my hand cared that individuals were stepping in front of the crowd to share their hard work. I debated stopping for a brief moment but was worried my flow would end prematurely. Surely, as writers themselves, they would understand my situation if they decided to engage in conversation with me following the event. I continued to work through the break and into the first few moments of the spoken word artist that presented right before Mr. Rhenisch. She caught my attention though; I did not need to work too hard to understand her poetry/spoken word. She was engaging and made eye contact that you felt needed to be respected, not because she was on stage but because she had something sincere to share with you. Without realizing it, I wrote myself to a conclusion, closed my notebook and capped my pen. My own writing seized for the evening.

I had the privilege of speaking to Mr. Rhenisch prior to the evening beginning. I got a little insight into his experience and work and he guided me to some authors I may find amusing if not anything else. I purchased his book Two Minds with hesitation because really, am I going to understand his poetry? I own one other poetry book written by my supervisor by the title of Black Onion, which I have yet to open. As soon as Mr. Rhenisch started to speak, I knew I would be captured and pulled in. His poetry, written as Sufic Ghazals spoke about his pilgrimage through the Northern Camino passage through Europe. You can read more about his writings on Mr. Rhenisch’s blog.

I did not fully understand what Mr. Rhenisch was sharing but I did catch the connection he made to wisdom or divinity that came from the use of Ghazals. By grasping just this little bit from his reading I think I will start to understand his poetry a little more (if I open up his book). For my second poetry event ever, I was pleasantly surprised. The engagement of individuals, the vase usage of the English language, and the multiple ways to present ones’ story is motivating, inspiring, and a little intimidating. If anything, I will do my best to attend Mr. Rhenisch’s reading in Vancouver near the end of the month in hopes to learn just a little bit more. (Check out Mr. Rhenisch’s blog for reading dates near you!)

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