Wednesday, April 1, 2009

My Favorite Contemporary Poet

The Baldwin Writers Group, to which I belong, meets one Saturday a month at the Public Library in Daphne, Alabama. Betty Ivey is the club’s poet laureate. At our March meeting, she read two poems, each less than a page in length, each treating with imagination and insight some small slice of life that less attentive people, me included, tend not to see or think about until Betty puts the spotlight on them.

Betty called her first poem “Three Figureheads.” It begins “On the top deck of the cruise ship,/High above the prow,/A lounge with walls of glass.” In this cruise ship lounge Betty observes figureheads of a mermaid and Lord Nelson staring straight ahead “Out of their black painted eyes.” Then she sees the woman garbed all in pink, even to “A hat crocheted in pink,” who sits between them. She, too, stares into the distance, just as immovable, just as unaware of the life that stirs around her. Lord Nelson. Mermaid. Lady in pink. Three of a kind. Who but Betty would have noticed?

Betty’s second poem was “The Cow Left Out in the Hurricane.” Poor cow, we think. But after the storm, when all around her is found to be torn asunder and rain soaked, there “…by the pasture gate,/The cow stood chewing on her cud.”

Betty often injects a straight-faced humor into her poems. A recent one, without a title, begins with the line “My husband plays viola in a string quartet…” and quietly celebrates the day the wife forgets her hearing aid.

If Betty ever publishes a book of her poems, I’ll stand in line to buy three copies.

~ Bert Johnston, author of Parson Campbell’s Breakthrough

No comments:

Post a Comment