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  • Last night I went to Logues' Black Raven Emporium for A Night of Free Speech, invited by my friend Jamie (pictured).

    Like Cowbirders, the open mic audience was supportive and full of love for the process and value of writing at all levels and toward different ends.

    A black-haired woman named Marina (?) told us it was her eighteen year anniversary, so she dedicated her poem to her husband. The sentiment, if not the exact words, of her concluding line stays with me: To allow another to see us completely, for better or worse, in the shower, on the toilet, with a fever, under stress, is to finally, wholly, love ourselves. Listening to her reminded me of what I find time and again on Cowbird--that shared insights can supersede craft. A different writing goal, but not less valuable--or more valuable. Wordsmithing. Mind sifting. Heartmining. Stringpulling.

    Some performance poets teamed up and read political-minded works together in stereo. I liked a poem titled "Mankey," (playing off monkey and the many keys held by men) in which the line: "I am the product of thousands of years of evolution" repeated to bring current choices into focus.

    There was also an angry singer who had grown frustrated with the competitive Music City scene. "I may sound cynical," he said, "but you try doing this for seven years." He was almost as hard to watch as yourself failing to meet your highest expectations.

    The highlight, the boon and joy of the evening was watching Jamie take the floor--my former student, whose writing I've watched grow and become more open, courageous, cleaner. What moments of clarity I enjoy are thanks to such writers who bring their lives to bear. Many thanks to her and them.

    * Not sure how to sprout this story, but I'm also writing in response to Anu Jänes' "Words, Those Incredible Words".
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