The Little House hosted a big event last night, “Sibling Poetry: A Brother-Sister Conversation in Poems.” My sister and I read 20 poems to an audience of just under 20 people, which nicely filled out the available seating in the jewel of a building created amidst the sometimes heated creative tension between my sister and my mother. In the event, many threads seemed to come together, knitting our family foursome into a more comfortable fabric. My father sat in the front row and asked the first question afterward, about the strong sense of years in the poems. He surprised himself by having difficulty asking his question, being so moved at the end of the reading. Later in the evening, my mother told me, “You two were adorable.” I’m not sure why that comment touched me so. Perhaps because I had indeed felt adorable and right, reading my poems and listening to the poems of my sister. We created something together that was wonderful. We received an e-mail from our cousin Sandy who attended, thanking us for the inspiring image of a brother and a sister knit so closely together, supporting each other, enjoying each other.
Steph and I worked hard on this little presentation. We rehearsed the poems over and over, we rearranged the chairs in the room, we practiced our introductions. My daughter Sarah was there and my yet-to-be-born grandson, attending his first poetry reading. My Aunt Edna and Uncle Bert drove in from Sudbury. Bert afterward, referring to a poem of mine about being blown out to sea in a canoe, said, “I was bothered by that for years afterward, too.” Sven Birkerts, my friend who is Editor of AGNI, came and commented on how Stephie’s poems seemed centered, grounded, close to home and mine seemed far-ranging, eclectic. He said it better than that, but his point was intriguing, echoing a new awareness of our differences that the poems gave us. My nephew Seth recorded the reading, which will be available on CDs. Steph’s partner Tim presided over a gourmet table of treats. Claire barked only once, during the question period. Darlene said she was proud of me.
I remember Liam Rector, creator of the Bennington MFA program, telling me that at one point in his life he came to believe that poetry would bring him everything he would ever need. I feel that way on this morning after the night when poetry brought my family into a new era of adorableness.