Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Contemporary Charleston

Sitting in the City Gallery at Waterfront Park Friday night, an interesting question was posed: "Is this a poetry reading?"

It was actually both poetry reading and art show. The gallery brought poets and artists together in Contemporary Charleston 2010. Poets included Marcus Amaker, Paul Allen, Ellie Davis, Bryan Penberthy, and Denny Stiles, who were all to read that evening.

The local poets were matched with local artists for a give and take of inspiration.

Allen says of his partner Benjamin Hollingsworth's mural-like painting: "It may be $60,000 for the whole piece, BUT you get to take me home too. And the arrows." This was after he introduced his first poem by saying, "I always like to throw in a divorce poem, so people know they can go home with me."

Stiles inspired his artist, Sarah Haynes, to paint a portrait. "Denny."

Artist Lynne Riding said of working from Davis' poetry: "It was different for me. This isn't usually what I do, but it's where the poems led me. It was fun." Riding used cracked eggshells to enhance her pink-based paintings.

Amaker opened the reading by saying, "I definitely want the poetry scene in Charleston to be bigger, so this is good. Thanks for showing up."

Juxtaposing talent, blending genres has always been the best way to pull attention from one artistic avenue to another.

Penberthy put it best by saying that the show helped to "blur the lines between disciplines." His poetry also makes it easy for painters; his similes conjure great images: "Like a honey bee--perplexing and dull, dying to end for something sweet."

Someone brought their little girl to the reading. At first, you can't help but think, "How cool! I'm going to do that too one day!" It's like seeing kids at a gay pride parade, a presidential inauguration, college football game or Rolling Stones concert. "They're learning cool things!"

But when Allen read the lines, "The world fully understands. It just doesn't give a damn," the crowd chuckled knowingly. And unknowing, the little girl peered backwards to her mother, asked, "What does that mean?"

"I'll tell you later," the mother hushed.

Which left you thinking, "Maybe this isn't appropriate." Well, more so, it made you realize (the depressing truth), "Damn. She won't have to be told. She'll learn."

But, what better way to learn than through poetry?