Tonight we held a rehearsal at my house, to prepare for the show at the Laurel Theatre on Thursday. "We" includes two fine younger poets, Darren Jackson and Josh Robbins, and my good friend Kali Meister, who is a genius actress and director. A few years ago, Kali changed my life by tutoring me in performance poetry. She helped me get ready then for a show at the Black Box Theatre, where I was the only woman poet in a lineup of talented theatrical performers. I memorized my work and choreographed it with her help, and I've never looked back.
So I try to open the door for the next generation, and the next. The grad students here at UT are amazingly talented. Their work holds up on the page. And now, with this kind of practice and critique, they will be more agile, braver performers. Kali gave us each good tips on our work. We laughed and laughed over silliness, drank wine and munched. The living room became the room for serious, imaginative play, poetry. The imagination romped in words, and the breath and body joined for the choreography. There was singing, too--as there will be singing in the show. With her sultry blues voice, Kali will notate a couple of my poems with fifties songs--"Angel Baby" for a poem about Dante's daughter; and "Stop in the Name of Love" for my poem "Stop." Dante urges Beatrice to stop being beautiful! Poor guy, he's tired, he's had to praise incessantly.
I savored my solo performance this season at the book launch, and so it feels right-- it feels great--to share the stage and perform with two amazing writers. And to have Kali sing at the opportune moments! People will leave the theatre feeling like they have really been to a show!
Our house has a playroom still stocked with balls and stuffed animals, for use by the neighbors' children now that our girl is grown up and gone. But tonight, the living room was the performance space and the play room. Once the poems have been composed, they become public property, interactive. They hold the rooms of our childhoods and of our growing older. They embrace our mortality and rage against it. Whatever happens at the Laurel Theatre on Thursday night, we have already broken silences together, laughed and cried, enjoyed being made of words.
Causes Marilyn Kallet Supports
Southern Poverty Law Center, US Holocaust Memorial Museum, ACLU, Amnesty International, Save Darfur.