I love fall and the opportunity for coziness and connection that it affords. A few Novembers 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–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.
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.
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.
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.