Friday night, I went to a monthly meeting of writers from my area. I’ve never been before, but now that I am self-publishing, it will not hurt me to get my self-doubting ass out of the house and go where readers actually gather.
The meeting place was a little coffeehouse on a side street in Sequim (yes, the Blue Hole is just large enough to have side streets. And coffeehouses). Seeing the Rainshadow Café, I flashed back to the bongs and bongos of the beat generation. This is odd because even I am not quite old enough to remember them other than from the outside looking in.
Anyway, the little place was packed. Being a highly practiced wall-flower, I dropped my head and lurched through the crowd to grab an Americano (for those of you not in the know, that is a coffee not a Latin gentleman). Then I hunkered at the back of the room speaking to no one, not even the person at the same table as myself.
The people who were reading their work were mostly older which is no surprise considering the demographics of the area. What was a surprise is that several were outdoorsy men reading their poetry aloud. One was a guy who drives a bus that takes forest fighters to and from blazes. Another was a logger retired from a lifetime in the woods. Another, a park worker. You get the idea.
Their poetry was evocative not just of nature’s beauty but of its harshness. It was highly personal, recalling the time our wilderness was still at its best. Maybe it was their old rough voices that made it so believable. There was nothing sweet about this poetry, nothing only-God-can-make-a-tree-ish. It was raw and extreme as a rock wall.
One thing for sure. It wasn’t the hiss and snort of the espresso machines that added to the magic. Or the hissing and snorting from me if anyone looked about to smile. Over time, I hope to get better at this socialization stuff. But I hope these old men never will. It’s better for us if they’re out in the wilderness still, plotting out their next verses.