Reading and Writing and the Occasional Recipe

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Reading and Writing and the Occasional Recipe

Where do our words go?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

This Sunday afternoon, March 14, I’m reading in Plymouth in “Poetry: The Art of Words,” the Mike Amado Memorial Series. The series is named for someone I never met, but to whom I am connected in a strange and humbling way.

One thing I know about Mike Amado is that one of the great pleasures of his brief life was writing poetry. Mike was ill for most of his life and died of kidney disease when he was just 34. He lived in Plymouth and was a musician and poet, the author of two collections, “Poems: Unearthed from Ashes” and “Rebuilding the Pyramids.”

Mike was also a member of the Bagel Bards, an informal group of Boston-area poets that meet on Saturday mornings, usually around an Au Bon Pain table in Davis Square. And that’s where he and I have a connection. I’ve sat around that table, too, and, when I wrote a column for The Boston Globe, I once wrote about the group. Mike read the column, found a poetry home at that table. The contacts he made there led to wider publication of his work and to frequent readings. He published his two books, started a reading series in Plymouth, attended a summer writing conference, and became a presence among area poets. Then he died, in early 2009.

His friend Jack Scully told me all this this later. It was Jack who had shown Mike my column and it is Jack who keeps the reading series going, with featured readers and an open mike.

Here is an excerpt from Mike's poem "An Offering of Eagle Feathers," which was published in Wilderness House Literary Review 4/4:

Show me the path through the pines, Let me feel
raindrops from young, green maples drape
my shoulders as I freely walk home again.
Here I will lay eagle feathers before we all become extinct.

So this Sunday when I’m the featured poet, I’ll be feeling the connection I have with this young poet I never met. But I’ll also be thinking about how our words, written and spoken, ripple out from our small circles and end up in places we cannot predict. We can never know their impact, good or bad. We can only know that they take on a life of their own. Sometimes we find out a little about where they go and whom they touch. And we can hope that they go out into the world to do good things.

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