Once, when I was a writing Fellow (I'll never be a fellow, but that's what they called us) at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, a magician visited to entertain us. He was the boyfriend of one of the painters. He told us that he had just been engaged in doing on a special U.N. tour of refugee camps in the Middle East and in Africa, where he brought some cheer and humor into grim situations by doing tricks for the children.
For us, for the writers, he recited an Eskimo (Inuit) poem, "Magic Words," and opened the pages of a big book. When he finished the poem, he opened a new page and flames shot out of the book! Then he closed it up and smiled. I was knocked out by this trick. I wanted the fire book for myself, to use in classes where students were inattentive. I know, it would only work once, but o my, they would remember that once!
As I prepare for the book launch and premiere performance of PACKING LIGHT, on February 2nd at the University of Tennessee, I've been daydreaming again about the fire book. Last night I looked it up online and found it at Daytona Fire magic shop. It costs 50 dollars and comes with all kinds of warnings (not for children, only for professional magicians!) The 50 bucks gives me pause. And I have waist-length hair, unlike the magician with male pattern baldness. Before the performance, I'd be worrying not only about dropping lines from newly-memorized poems, but about setting fire to myself. And about setting off the overhead sprinklers in the auditorium.
In 1996, I published a book of erotic love poems called HOW TO GET HEAT WITHOUT FIRE. Maybe I was wiser and more subtler then! (Not!) The fire has to come from the words themselves and from the performance, from the poet herself, I know that. Still. Like a shaman of old, I could open that book and awaken tribal awe---before the fire marshals rushed in and the building had to be evacuated!
Causes Marilyn Kallet Supports
Southern Poverty Law Center, US Holocaust Memorial Museum, ACLU, Amnesty International, Save Darfur.