Ms. Stokes came to read tonight as the last poetry reading this Spring for the Center for Poetry. I really enjoyed her work and listening to her read. I really like her voice. She always sounds like a librarian or a preschool teacher when she talks. She also choose great material when writing, like a poem about how her mother was dating the Catholic priest.
Midway through the night, she had one of her students read some poems in Arabic. She teaches English to non-native speakers, and she explained that usually in the summer that there's a talent show for these students. One of them was game to work with poetry, and they ended up working together on a project where he read famous Arabic poetry and she would read the English translation.
If I had to pick a theme for this semester's poetry festival, I would say we've been doing humor in poetry. Steve Healey was a riot a few weeks back, and there was a sense of fun in so much of Christine Rhein's work. Ruelaine Stokes was also funny. My friend Mark (a fellow worker for the Center) mentioned that good stories are always in the details, and Ms. Stokes definitely did this. She had a great story about a high school English teacher who used Songs of Myself as a doorstop. That's the kind of thing that stays with you.