Poetry was with me as I arose the following day. A spirit of levity, a sense of satisfaction, an expectancy and a fresh perspective fueled my moves as I dressed for an otherwise routine trip into work. Not surprisingly, the magic of poetry prevailed over the week’s busy-ness, just as I knew it would. That’s why I did not hesitate when the chance to host the first (official) Mischief Café arose, straight from the comment boxes of a Saturday morning Facebook conversation.
The rules were simple, more like scaffolding. Laura would bring the toast and tea, and my people would gather. Not much more than that was preset. I invited several friends, some through conversation, and some by way of email, and asked each person to bring with them a token of mischief. Most were initially hesitant to ask, but I received several politely panicked texts and emails the day of the café, wondering what was meant by a “token of mischief” and what, in fact, they should bring. I wasn’t sure myself until the last minute, but I did trust the exercise would spark some imagination and open up the group to a night of wonder. And there would definitely be no wrong answers.
This was a brave group, whether they realized it or not. None besides me regularly writes poetry, and only one other regularly reads it. As fate would have it, two people had close lyrical encounters just before we met (with Pablo Neruda and Samuel Taylor Coleridge) and were ready to go deeper. Some of the group were friendly acquaintances, but not every person was familiar with each other.
Laura led the conversation loosely, using The Mischief Café title to get us started. We read aloud and responded to what we heard. We asked questions and laughed at some of the answers. We were distracted with food and kitchen gadgets, and became more courageous as we forged onward into the night (see full article here). As we read some classic verse and discussed its structure, references to the movie “Dead Poet’s Society” were a frequent refrain.
It made perfect sense. There we were, in our own candle-lit cave after curfew, for a few short hours. We left the day’s worry at the front door and became young again, open, vulnerable, and full of faith in the possibilities ahead of us. We became listeners, listening to the “greats”, and maybe, even for a minute, dreamed of being great ourselves.
I think sometimes we approach poetry hesitantly because we want to feel worthy of its magic. And the wonderful truth of the matter is, we are just that. The Mischief Café showed us so.