Everyone knows poetry is a literary form with distinct sounds and rhythms meant to be read aloud. Eve Brackenbury, local poet and bookseller, will help participants who might never have spoken in front of a crowd learn to read poetry out loud. Her passion is evident in our interview and we hope you'll join us in learning how to turn your reading into a performance.
Tuesday, November 15th
6:00 - 8:00 pm
Central Resource Library - Logan Conference Room
Tell us about yourself. How did you get started writing?
Like many writers, I don’t really remember when I started writing. I don’t remember a time when I was not writing. I do remember why: I love telling stories. I wrote a lot of plays and epic fantasy poetry. Tragedy was a big theme. And mystery. But importantly, language.
Why is poetry important?
Poetry speaks for us. It preserves history. It conjures meaning. We find it in song or lyrical prose, religious texts and civil documents. Poetry helps us find rhythm and meaning and balance.
How long have you been writing poetry?
I began to write poetry seriously and intentionally in my early 20s. About the time I started reading poetry seriously and intentionally.
How does a poem begin for you? Idea? Word? Image? Form?
Most times, my poems begin with a phrase – a bit of sound and rhythm that sparks a deeper meaning or epiphany.
What is the best writing advice you’ve received?
My favorite quote: “Don’t tell me the moon is shining. Show me the glint of light on broken glass.” by Anton Chekov. This quote speaks to the adage, “show-don’t tell.” But it does so by telling a story and by using directives. Brilliant.
What motivated you to open Inklings' Books & Coffee Shoppe?
One word: Fellowship.
More words: The Inklings were a group of writers who met in Oxford in the 1930s and 40s. They met in a pub outside of Oxford University. Two of the more famous members of the group were CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien. Dorothy Sayers was an honorary member. Although they could have met at the university, they chose to meet at the “Eagle and Child”, an informal place to call home and quench their thirst. At Inklings’ Books & Coffee Shoppe, we host a variety of writing workshops, discussion groups, and book clubs. We host open mics and we support local authors. It’s hard, especially in the suburbs, to find a place outside of a library or school that offers this kind of fellowship.
What do you find most rewarding about the writing life?
The magic of it. I enjoy inspiring others to find their own voice. I enjoy mentoring, every bit as much as I enjoy writing. The writing life is as much about reading and fellowship as it is writing. Many writers think they are reclusive or introverted. But I really think they seek this kind of community and settle for nothing less or anything that might rob them of this magic. I’m more of an extravert. It’s why I’ve agreed to conduct this workshop. It’s why I opened Inklings’. But here’s the rub: I find myself missing out on the magic far too often to attend to the everyday stuff.
Who are your favorite writers?
I hate to say it, but usually the dead ones. I’m fascinated by the oral tradition, the bardic tradition, and the ancients. I greatly respect the contributions of early writers in historical, epic, and lyric poetry.
Amergin (500 BC), A Milesian warrior, as well as poet, and Ireland’s “First Druid.”
Homer (somewhere between 1100 BC to 850 BC) was believed by the ancient Greeks to have been the first and greatest of the epic poets.
Sappho (sometime between 630 and 612 BCE), she was considered one of the canon of nine lyric poets.
Kind David (10th Century BC), Warrior, Poet, Songs.
Hafiz (14th century), Persian mystical poet said to only write when divinely inspired.
The Communal Authorship of the Romantic Ballads of Britain (9th thru 18th centuries) including Robin Hood.
More recent: Maya Angelou, Seamus Heaney, Tom Leonard, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Langston Hughes.
Who are you reading right now?
I’m reading the poets in my poetry workshop. We’re working on group project, and I’m in the editing stages of a soon-to-be announced collection. This is the event description I’m using for my Facebook invite:
I've been invited to give this workshop because I make people cry.
I remember, after years of listening to (mostly) teachers read boring renditions of Langston Hughes, watching Danny Glover read Langston Hughes. I knew then that I wanted to hire actors to read my poetry.
I'm still waiting for Danny Glover. And Kate Mulgrew. And Helen Miren, And, I confess, Gary Sinise. I want them all to read my poetry.
In the meantime, I've learned how to give my audiences goose bumps, tears, giggles. I've learned to take them on long drives in forgotten childhood haunts. I've learned to make them see who's been whispering in their ears.
The second most important thing I've learned about poetry, is that my poetry isn't about me. The most important thing is that it is all about the audience.
My favorite compliment: (While standing in someone's backyard during a suburban garden tour, a woman said to me, "I don't want this to sound weird, but I wish I could take you home with me, pick up a bottle of wine, and let you read poetry to me all night."
My favorite endorsement: "Her readings are like a Roberta Flack song, or a good sermon. You swear she's talking just to you."
Come to this workshop. No matter how good you are. No matter how bad you think you are. You'll be thrilled to learn all my dirty little secrets. Your audiences will love you for it.