A special guest post about the May 14 “Meet Me in the Aga Khan Museum” event by Kathleen Anderson
The closest thing to a poetry event I’d ever been to was a small reading crammed into the corner of a library. I was excited to experience something more elaborate and hear from people whose work has and continues to make an impact, exploring different facets of human experience.
A poetry event on the topic of human rights demands seriousness, of course, but I wondered just how charged the environment would be. There were certainly intense and emotion-filled moments, but there were also jokes and smiles. The blending of these different emotions, for me, made the event even more valuable, a real expression of human experience.
I liked the effect of hearing different readers speak one after another because it revealed similarities and differences in the way people express their experiences creatively. The writers all talked about topics connected to human rights, but the poetry they chose to read was so interestingly varied: the type of poem, the content, the context (personal and political), and even the verbal expression.
The vocal element of the event really struck me. Hearing poetry spoken aloud is such a different experience than reading the off a page. I could hear the passion, the anger, the sadness. The words were brought to life.
For me, the most rewarding part of the event was that I couldn’t just sit in the audience and passively listen. The poems and the authors’ commentary on the link between art and activism made me think as I heard it. Then I spent my drive home turning the words and ideas over in my head. It’s fascinating to find an experience that doesn’t end when you leave the building.