Hosted by Natalie Fuhr

"Poetry Jam" doesn't address the elegance and grace of the Sunday morning we spent in the beautiful space at Davis Hall. "Poetry Share" does. It was an upper-story corner room, with tall windows on two sides [looking out into the tree tops and blue sky]; with a rich, golden, hardwood floor; a small, blue, velvet sofa and a few comfortable, stuffed chairs [one the same colour of blue]; some folding chairs in rows; and an ebony grand piano. The morning light was fresh, and the feeling of the room was intimate and genteel. These are only some of the highlights that lent to the appreciative mood of the morning.

Natalie Fuhr shared her own, wonderful poetry, yet even more importantly - as the host -, she had no qualms about sharing the spotlight and encouraged others to share whatever they would like, be it poetry, song, or a story. If anyone felt trepidatious, her supportive manner soothed it away. I wish more of the others had been able to make it. That morning was the loveliest of all for me.

Photo on the left: Natalie Fuhr (British Columbia) and Brian Bitner (Pennsylvania)

Once I was there and settled, some of the participants came to life through their writings, some inspired by Leonard. One man, who sang so well at the open mic at The Knitting Factory, read some of his poems. Tony Masalonis, whose manner of recitation intrigues me most of all because of its rawness and down-to-earth sincerity recited several of his by memory. Reminiscent of the original, Beatnik/Bohemian, no-frills style, I know that Leonard would love it, and told the poet so, afterward.

Photo on the right: Tony Masalonis (Washington DC)

Michael Wolkind selected Heather Salisbury to assist in the reading of one of his poems, and together they recited, point-counterpoint style, speaking out the male and female parts separately, yet to each other; and joining together on the lines that related the shared thoughts and feelings. Their reading was absolutely charming.

Then, our 'very own' Geoff Gompers recited Chaucer by memory, accent and all. What a surprize it was! It was wonderful to see this other side of him, and he did it with such ease and finesse.

Suzanne Holland ~ what a treat! She considers her blindness not as being compromised, but only "an alternate way of being," and when you're with her, or watch her, you know this to be true. The waltz timing of many of her songs makes swaying and singing along a natural response. She sang with her beautiful voice, and introduced one of her songs with her excellent imitation of a whinneying and galloping horse. Visually, she's both colourful and interesting ~ long, bright skirts and tops, with her long hair topped with floral wreaths; and she is happy to explain her various, vibrant tattoos ~ the three faeries on one arm represent her three nieces.
It's so appropriate that another tattoo is of a dolphin, one of the sea's renowned, magical and intuitive creatures. Suzanne seems equally intuitive and magical.

Her attentive and loving companion Michael Epstein (photo on the right) related his own Leonard incident. His looks and natural, expressive, speaking manner transported me back to the sixties, when the truly 'cool' ones didn't have to try to be that way. They were just themselves, and they just were.

Another unexpected and delightful surprize was John Bergeron performing solo, playing the piano and singing. It was a morning session that ended too soon. A morning of private performances, uplifting and so in keeping with the warmth of feeling brought about by the Event.

Review © 2004 Elizabeth Bacon-Smith
Photos © 2004 Vern Silver, except
the last one Jarkko Arjatsalo