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Hello and hope everyone’s having an excellent weekend. My name is Fred Rutherford and before we get started here tonight, I just want to say how honored I am to be hosting Poetics. The site’s become a staple in so many poets’ lives, and it’s truly been amazing to watch it grow as it has. I can still remember back to the preview party, where the plumbing wasn’t even completely finished to where things are today.

To be invited to join the D’Verse crew was and is truly an honor. It’s funny, the vibe I’ve always felt personally has been, well, it’s as if I’d been in the fold from day one. I’m sure I’m not the only one to have felt/feel, this way. I truly believe this stems from the way things operate here. The hosts are all excellent poets, but it goes much deeper than that. Here, you have a staff that does a great job in embodying the essence of diversity, fostering a creative development and learning-enabled environment, where kindness is not subservient to critique. The hosts, through their postings and responses, also provide the impetus for inspiring your inner artist in a truly open and amiably communal atmosphere. But hey, you all know that already don’t you?

That all said, being able to sit behind the bar tonight, I am now, in a somewhat state of awe. I look out toward the door, seeing the crowd that is trickling in, realizing I am still making sure all the bottles are fully stocked, that the CO2 tanks are operational, and that we have enough glasses to go around. Here, at this moment, I realize how important the facilitators’ role is. As a host, the onus of providing a theme, a subject, that will define the poetic direction, if you will, for all that choose to enter the bar this night. And yes, I have to admit, there are more than a few nerves jittering about, but it’s a good jittering, an excitement, to see what will become of the direction that I’ll be offering shortly.

There are folks from all around the world, from so many different backgrounds and points of view. There are so many ideas swirling around my mind. On numerous occasions, I find myself checking and rechecking the thirty-some odd ideas I’ve jotted down over the past few weeks. And thoughts like, “is this topic viable…. will this them increase the number of drafts consumed tonight…or will the patrons simply choose to turn around and march across the street?

Beads of sweat are trickling in uneven patterns from my temples, down around the sockets of my eyes; eventually hiding within the forest that more than covers the jawline provided to me at birth. I have a choice decided upon, but hesitation grabs my vocal chords tightly, as if, perhaps I should reconsider, offer up a different theme. And the longer I wait, the more time indecision has to get into it’s irritating groove, the more time those numerous ideas, still swirling about, have to pitch and re-pitch their case. Each at times seem like the perfect topic and so I think, perhaps I’ll combine them together, and I believe, for a second, that this is truly a unique concept…only to realize, seconds before the first word trickles off my tongue, I’m only going to create an unfocused mess.

So…I go ahead and take a moment, breathe in deeply, grab a napkin from the corral next to the bowl of mixed nuts and wipe clean my moistened brow. This moment allows clarity to come to me clear, where in a sudden burst, I understand, the thought echoes inside me, “they’ll be plenty of other nights, no need trying to get it all down on the first… simply save the pad, and respect each topic, allowing each of them their own opportunity to entertain, teach, motivate and inspire.

And there I had it; the microphone was in my hand and I was about to speak, when I was stopped yet again. Where although I’d come to a conclusion, my arm must’ve been shaking something fierce, for a few of the regulars, already on the stools directly before me, patiently eager to start filling napkins with verse, whispered, almost in unison, “it’ll be fine, you’ll be amazin’ and the night will be great.” And with that, I understood; indeed, the night would be a great, it always is.

So, for tonight’s edition of Poetics, I thought it only fitting for First Times to be the theme of the night. Everyone, no matter the background or regardless of expertise, has a first time. You can’t simply become a skilled or experienced anything, without, at one point, doing it a first time.

I invite you all to look back to a time where you experienced something for the very first time. It can be your first kiss, your first day of school, first love, first time being intimate, first time hearing a certain kind of music, encountering a book, a poem, a writer, a city, a culture, religion, art and so forth… the possibilities are endless.

The first time doesn’t have to be of a positive nature though. You can poeticize your first time experiencing rejection, bullying, loss, failure, death, sacrifice, pain, being fired and on and on.

But it could also be something you’ve never done before where you could illustrate your expectations, feelings and response to how that moment will play out.

No matter what direction you choose to travel down here, there are countless possibilities you can use to shape your poem. You can illustrate how you felt/would feel. Were you nervous? Excited? Scared? What was your focus like? Were you able to capture the setting where your first took place?

What happened after you experienced your choice a second time or more? What differences were there? What changed? How did your opinion change, and why do you believe it did, or didn’t?

Do you remember anything specific that can help detail your situation, scene, location etc.? You may choose to include symbolism for adding additional depth? You might decide to use dialogue. Perhaps you feel that the best route to maximize the effectiveness of your first is to utilize a deep characterization…or through internal reflection. You might choose to use specific narration…again; the possibilities are endless, with every tool in front of, at your disposal, to illustrate the first you decide to write upon.
With the theme being both flexible, and quite wide in scope, it’s my hope that it will offer inspiration and the impetus for a great number of possibilities and outcomes. I also hope you’ll find something personal, something needed at this moment in your lives. Perhaps the dredging up of a happy first will bring a glimmer to you know, or in the cases where a negative first is chosen, then, hopefully a sense of catharsis might bridge the gap inside, allowing coalescence to caress your haunted spots within.

I’m not entirely well-versed in copyright law, so I refrained from posting a couple poems I thought did an outstanding job showing what possibilities exist when recalling your first times in poetry. John Keats’ On Seeing the Elgin Marbles for the First Time, Allen Ginsberg’s First Party At Ken Kesey’s With Hell’s Angels and Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Sonnet’s 32, 36 and 38 are all excellent examples of first times composed in poetry. And whereas not to put myself in such company, I will also mention that in this posting, beginning with the paragraph that all said, shows how one might approach a first time from a poetic prose position.

Heres How It Works:

• Write your poem and post it to your blog
• Add a link to your poem via the ‘Mr Linky’ below
• This opens a new screen where you’ll enter your information, and where you also choose links to read. Once you have pasted your poem’s blog URL and entered your name, click Submit. Don’t worry if you don’t see your name right away
• Read and comment on other peoples work to let them know it’s being read
• Share via your favourite social media platforms
• Above all- have fun!

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