Palm Beach Poetry Festival: Day Three

After attending the first of two participant readings this afternoon, I made my way to the beach (finally). While the water temperature was a bit too cold, even for me in my northern winter coat of excess fat, I walked in the surf as the tide began to come in, the coolness of the sand therapeutic for my aching feet.

Later, a local shuttle driver flagged me down on my way to tonight’s readings. My feet gratefully accepted not knowing the pronouncement to follow. The driver, in what could best be considered an oracular manner, insisted that I remain in Del Ray Beach and not return to frozen Lake Ontario soil. Politesse? Of course. Good PR? Sure. But he repeated his insistence as I made my way off the shuttle, even after I had told him of my need to be in Manhattan next week. Such events do make one wonder…

Lola Haskins read first this evening, which was labelled “Florida Poets” night. In some ways she could be labelled a caricature of a poet; despite her tall, lean figure she always dresses in poet’s black, right down to the cast she wore on her broken leg. Haskins has memorized all the poems she has ever written, pehaps not such a tremendous surpise considering that up until recently she taught computer science and web design–she has an analytical mind pre-occupied by detail. She performed her work with grace and an elegance not often seen on the literary stage.

Spencer Reece followed Haskins. Reece, who is hoping to leave his Florida clerk’s life for the seminary in CT, had many family members in attendance. Dressed as smartly as ever, as his Brooks Brothers position demands, Reece exhibited a more relaxed demeanor behind the podium than when I first heard his work at Bennington. In addition to reading a couple of selections from his prize winning book A Clerk’s Tale, he read two new pieces, both rather lengthy, one extremely personal dealing with the murder of his cousin many years ago. Reece is a sensitive soul; tears canaled his face as he read the latter poem. He may very well become the wonderful hospice chaplain he aspires to be.

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