Friday nights are great for free poetry in Tacoma. (Are you following my Free Arts Month? Free arts events, every day through January, on this blog.) Last week I heard the mellifluous, polysyllabic rhythms of spoken word artists at Speak Your Soul; tonight it was poetical painting and apt assonance at the monthly reading/open mike for the Puget Sound Poetry Connection. In the cozy bookishness of Kings Books, about 35 poetry lovers gathered to hear Rachel Dilworth, a startlingly good poet who grew up in Tacoma and now lives in California.
Dilworth – amiable, with an enticing, expressive voice – read a couple of homegrown poems (metaphorical rosehips, an ironic love-song to Safeway box boys) before moving on to her first book, just a year old. “The Wild Rose Asylum” was written after research in Ireland into the infamous Magdalen Laundries, convent-based hard labor imprisonment for disreputable (or just unfortunate) women. It also won her the 2008 Akron Poetry Prize. Dilworth’s sonnets, couplets and delicate free verse delved into these women’s lives with power and deep feeling, worked with Dilworth’s imaginative metaphors and good ear for sound and rhythm.
After a short break, the meeting went on through a lengthy open mike list which included Tacoma poet Jean Musser, who will read and sign her latest book “The Red Hat” at 7 p.m. next Thursday, also at Kings.
Poetry may not be everyone’s first choice for a Friday night’s entertainment, but as well as being free it’s surprisingly calming, both to hear words painting endless pictures and to dive for a long moment into someone else’s gaze on the world.
The Puget Sound Poetry Connection’s Distinguished Writer series and open mike happens at 7 p.m. on second Fridays at King’s Books, 218 St. Helens Ave., Tacoma. 253-471-8804, pugetsoundpoetryconnection.art.officelive.com, www.kingsbookstore.com