Yesterday you read something about multi-talented Bobbi Katz. Today it’s my pleasure to introduce the person herself. Here’s Bobbi!
Have you ever judged a poetry contest? I’ve done it before and said “Never again!” However, seduced by the location, near gorgeous Chicago, my resolve dissolved. This past week I’ve been reading and re-reading hundreds and hundreds of poems for the 37th Jo-Anne Hirschfield Memorial Poetry contest in Evanston, Illinois. It’s a community event that is coordinated by the Evanston Library. There are three divisions of student contests, as well as adults. I am getting to know more people in Evanston better than I know people in my own community!It’s turning out to be quite a job. I can pick first, second, and third place winners for each division, plus a maximum of three honorable mentions. Of course, I started with the kids’ poems first. There are lots of good poems on every level! I’m finding it very difficult to get down to six poems for each division. It’s a responsibility. There are poems that are heartbreakingly earnest but lack the condensed power I think a good poem should have. There are poems that use “I” instead of “me” after a preposition because the writer needs a rhyme for “lie.” (Alas, I am a grammar grouch, especially when it comes to pronouns.) There are poems that are so sincere, so open, so pained that I want to reach across the country and hug the writer. There are poems that scare me. I expected lovelorn high school kids, or those with parents who simply don’t understand them, but the degree of unhappiness of kids of all ages surprised me. From eating disorders to peer pressure, the sense of rushing, fear of death, worry about jobs, war, and sometimes, helplessness and hopelessness: All find homes in children’s poems. There are, of course, light and happy poems as well, but I’m finding many more that are darker.
Personally, I’ve been appreciative of the supportive power of paper for years. More recently, it’s been paper via the computer screen rather than the yellow pad or backs of envelopes. Paper is a place to hold the joy that I can no longer contain, as well as the pain that is too much to carry. For a number of years I kept a daily journal. Poems have been my personal playgrounds for rhyme and rhythm, as well as deeply experienced emotions and observations. The process of reading all these poems, however, makes me realize how very therapeutic the act of writing is for everyone. In our hurry-up lives writing a poem is a good practice. Even if someone just pauses to notice the night sky, the sounds of wind, the changing trees, whatever, and finds words to describe them, it’s a worthwhile experience. Finding words for more complicated emotions is really a way of understanding oneself. Sometimes the process relieves an overwhelming feeling. Here is the proof: Look how writing for Dave’s blog has just helped me! Now I’ll return to the piles of poems I’ve been pondering obsessively. I’m going to choose just six from each of them. I’ve convinced myself: Whoever has stopped text-messaging or simply hurrying from one activity to another in order to write a poem, is a winner whether his or her name appears on the program or not!
Port Ewen, NY 12466
“If monsters are what interest you,
the how and why of what they do,
I know the facts: what’s false, what’s true,
since I’m a MONSTEROLOGIST!”
Coming to a bookstore near you…
http://themonsterologist.com/Please post your thoghts and questions in the comments below. And Bobbi, thank you.