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Poetry to step into the spotlight

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By Kirsten Laskey

Poetry sometimes seems to be surrounded in mystique, local poet David Mutschlecner said; it does not receive much attention from the public and is often viewed as inaccessible.To help bring this art form into the public eye, and to clear up people’s understanding about poetry, a special reading will be held at 7 p.m. March 20 in the upstairs rotunda at Mesa Public Library.The reading is in recognition of National Poetry Month, which is in April. Mutschlecner will participate in the reading along with Brooklyn poet Jennifer Bartlett, and her father, Lee Bartlett of Las Cruces.The audience will be the first to hear Lee’s newest work, which has not even hit the presses yet. His collection of poems will be published later this year.He explained that he will read from his manuscript to gather people’s reaction to the work before submitting it to be published.In addition to his newest work, Lee will also read poems written in the 1970s, 80s and 90s.He was not always a poet. Lee explained growing up in Berkeley, Calif., he fell in love with rock n’ roll and was even in a band. When he went to college, he sold his drums and his energy moved from music to literature.Lee has written 12 books on prose and helped edit a collection titled “In Company: Anthropology of New Mexico Poets after 1960.”Sharing poetry with others, he said, is important because “ideas have been so corrupted in our culture (and) poetry will hopefully provide hope, stability and beauty in people.”Jennifer will also share new work with the community. She said she will read from her first book, “Derivative of the Moving Image,” which was published in 2007.While her father may have chosen to be a poet later in his life, Jennifer said she always wanted to work with literature.“My father is a poet,” she said. “I grew up around poets ee when I was young, I knew I wanted to write something.”Jennifer said she attempted to write fictional novels but had a hard time sustaining character and plot.However, as an undergraduate, she took fiction writing and poetry classes. By the time she graduated, she “just organically” went over to poetry composition, Jennifer said.“Poetry describes the human condition that that is different from any other genre,” she said.Having a month dedicated to poetry, Jennifer said, was probably “started because people want to promote reading and promote poetry and I think that’s important.”She added, “I think reading in general doesn’t get as much attention as it should.”Mutschlecner will read four poems, some included in his book, “Sign,” which was published in 2007. Mutschlecner said he selected these poems because other pieces are two- person narratives, which would be difficult for just one person to read aloud.Additionally, the poems feature a dramatic narrative and have good, loud sound structure, he explained.Similar to Jennifer, he decided early in his life to pursue poetry. “I think ever since I was very young I wanted to be a poet,” he said. “I always desired to give shape to things through poetry.”Mutschlecner added he was “drawn” to the way poetry can “unify many ways of thinking.” He added in writing a poem, “it can go any where.”There are two sides to poetry, Mutschlecner explained. “It’s thoroughly meditative and personal and (one) side requires alone time and time to simply focus on thinking and language.“And the other side is more communal and public,” he said. Both sides are important; they balance each other out.Establishing a month that is dedicated to poetry, Mutschlecner said, allows the public side of poetry to open up.