Out loud: Live Poets read and listen

By Mara Rockliff

Bruised and battered from your last poetry slam? Still faint from loss of blood since your critique group got through “helping” you? Try a kinder, gentler venue: the Live Poets Society.
“We don’t critique each other’s work,” says Joyce Broughton, who’s been with the group since it started 13 years ago. (Back then, it was called Poetry in the Raw, a name they changed after an Observer staffer taking their ad said she pictured them all sitting around naked.) “It’s more to get a chance for public reading and appreciation.”
If you’re looking for an atmosphere that’s 100 percent certified nonthreatening, the Live Poets, who meet the first Wednesday of the month, are just the folks for you. You don’t even have to stand up to read. The group sits around a table in a meeting room at the Gordon Avenue Library, and the poets— typically six or so— take turns reading their poems.
Everyone’s welcome, and it’s okay to go and just listen. But don’t be surprised if you find yourself taking part. “People get so comfortable,” Broughton says, “that they’ll pull out a piece of paper and say, ‘Well, I just happen to have this poem. May I read it?’”
They may be cuddly and sweet, but the Live Poets are serious about their poetry. One member, Hilda Ward, recently recorded a CD of her poems accompanied by piano music. (The CD, called Images, is on sale at Plan 9.) Broughton has done readings of her children’s poetry at Barnes & Noble and the public library, and Katherine Borges self-published a book of poems called Bare Tree (1stBooks Library, 1999).
Another longtime member of the group, Jean Sampson— also a painter with a studio at the McGuffey Art Center— even has a haiku on her answering machine.
Still nervous? You can check out the group from the safety of your own living room. The Live Poets will be featured on the third episode of a new public access TV show, Artistic Expressions, to be aired on cable channel 13 sometime in August or September.
But why wait? After all, the best way to get to know the Live Poets is in their natural (but fully clothed) state: Live!

The Live Poets Society meets Wednesday, August 7, and the first Wednesday of every month. Come and share original poetry, or just listen. Gordon Ave. Library, 1500 Gordon Ave., 7pm. Contact Joyce Broughton, 973-6200.

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