In late fall a few years ago I had the pleasure of hosting the diminuitive L.L. Barkat, a woman with a contagious laugh, a love of poetry and instigator of the Mischief Cafe (among other things.) The Mischief Cafe is sort of a traveling road show with tea, toast and poetry. Laura and I had connected online and had never met before this occasion, but when I read she’d be taking the cafe idea on the road I contacted her and extended an invitation. The Mischief Cafe idea originated with the Tweetspeak Poetry community, which L.L. founded, and came about from a Facebook conversation which morphed (156 comments later) into a book, complete with found poems, blank pages and poetry prompts as well. The blank pages are my favorite. You can read more about Mischief Cafe’s origins here.
With a word like ‘mischief’ in its declaration, having a Mischief Café in your own home (well, we started in the kitchen) one would expect at least some laughter. Even if the guests included almost complete strangers whom you’d actually never met in real life.
So, with a feather boa in my hand, I was looking forward to some fun. We were duly rewarded. There were uproarious guffaws from a couple of guests (I’m not naming names) as stories were shared and hearts were bared.
While I expected a congenial time–I enjoy having guests in my home—even if they’re—ahem, an hour and a half early–but the ease with which said total strangers made themselves at home was a gift and a surprise.
Laura (L.L.) and I had time to cover ground in person that we’d only typed out between us. Our conversation was like that between old friends, friends I knew well but hadn’t seen in a long while. Friends who shared a love of poetry and writing and mischief (oh, and tea).
photo by LL Barkat,
(l to r) Laura Smedley, Kimberlee Conway Ireton, moi, Jennifer Wagner(Poet Laundry)
And we had tea….with cinnamon toast, buttered very liberally by L.L. She made herself completely at home in my kitchen and chatted as if we’d been doing it all our lives.
That was a blessed surprise.Kimberlee stole my feather boa…Jennifer and Laura smiling, LL being elusive
I was also surprised to be intrigued rather than repelled (as I was on my first read) by the form and sound of a sestina. As L.L. read aloud one of her poems, I found myself listening to the words as they looped through the air, trailing each other in conjoined phrases, like links in a chain holding a golden key at the end. I felt like the puzzle of the form had been unlocked as I listened and thought I might actually try to write one.
This graphic below was a huge help, and also inadvertently illustrates the sound of Laura’s voice reading a selection from her book ‘Love, Etc.’ the poem, ‘Petit a Petit L’oiseau fait son nid’ (Little by little, the bird makes his nest).
If you’d like to know more about Tweetspeak Poetry or how to order your copy of ‘Mischief Cafe’, click here.