Thursday, November 1, 2012

     For my event this week, I attended a Modern Masters contemporary reading, by poet Judith Baumel. Though I did not find one uniting them between this week's readings and the event I attended, I was able to find some connections between the event and the readings individually.
     This event involved poet Judith Baumel offering her audience her brief background story, and then reading a variety of her poems. Most of the poems she read were from her newly published book of collected poems called, "The Kangaroo Girl," named so because of the photograph of a young Judith Baumel on the cover of the book wearing a kangaroo costume. Three of the poems Baumel read, she considered elegies, one for an ex-boyfriends who had died in a kayaking accident, one for a professor she once had, and one for her cousin. She read one poem about her experience as a New York native living in Baltimore when she was a graduate student at Johns Hopkins University, and another about her feelings toward growing up Jewish in a predominantly Catholic community in Brooklyn. However, the most powerful poem Ms. Baumel read was the poem containing the namesake of her new book. In this poem she vaguely describes a strange childhood strongly affected by by the extreme perfectionism of her father. At one point in the poem, Baumel describes the occasion when the kangaroo photograph was taken, and speaks of a whole production of "poking and prodding" to achieve the perfect picture. What was ultimately most powerful about this poem however, was what was later shared about its underlying meaning. At the end of the poetry reading, time was given for audience members to ask Baumel questions. One audience member said to Baumel, "If I didn't know any better, I would almost be inclined to think that the kangaroo poem was about child abuse," to which Judith Baumel confidently replied,"Well, then you are a very good reader." This was an extremely powerful moment because it revealed the true meaning behind a poem, which most listeners did not initially infer. I think this occurrence really spoke for the beauty and power of poetry, showing that its meaning and message is not always straightforward, and much can be concealed within a poem.
     Th connection I made between the event, and A Father, by Bharati Mukherjee was that the story A Father showed the relationship between a Father and his wife and daughter, in a traditional Indian family. In the story, the relationship between the father and daughter is not very healthy because the father essentially chooses tradition over love for his daughter. This reminded me of how, even though she did not go into detail, Judith Baumel made it evident that she and her father did not have a healthy relationship either.
     The article, Serving Up Hope, described how Galen and Bridget Samson have worked incredibly hard to provide a place of work for former addicts at the Dogwood Deli. While there is not much in common with this article and the event I attended, I can form a connection between the hard work and dedication Galen and Bridget put into their cause, and the dedication that Baumel has put into her poetry book.
     The way I interpret the poem, Direction for Resisting the SAT, is that Richard Hague is emphasizing the fact that there is more to life than the SAT. He seeks to negate the panic brought on by the SAT by insinuating that it is by no means the most important thing in the world, or the most important thing a person will do. This reminds me of Judith Baumel's poem about her experience in graduate school. In the poem she talked about how challenging graduate school was for her, which I'm sure is extremely true. However, there are many things in life, including the SAT and graduate school, that are stepping stones on the path of becoming who we want to be. Now that we are in college, the SAT seems so insignificant, just as graduate school probably seems not nearly as intimidating to a now accomplished and published poet.
     The poem First Practice, by Gary Gildner describes a coach's strict approach to leading his team's practice, showing that structure and diligence are necessary for success. This lesson is something that Judith Baumel is most likely very familiar with in her writing career.

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