Introduction – to the Mayhem Poets

For the last couple of days, while the poets in Old School Square were workshopping and craft-talking, our two guests tonight were word-cajoling in high schools around Palm Beach County.

This is proper & fitting, because for the last half-score years, while we-all were on vocation, so were they—

vocationing—verbally, vocally, day-in and day-out, in theatres and gyms like this one all around the world.

And yesterday, while our new president was trumpeting in the streets, children in those same schools were dying – with laughter, and holding their breath, and handling words at once true and kind—

kind because vulnerable, and therefore full of power and authority.

Watching our guests from a fold-down seat didn’t just make me want to be them—
to imp my wing on their wit and talent and savoir faire

watching them made me mindful of,
grateful for those first permissions we all felt to love a poem—
to “belovéd a poem,” by Simic, or Perillo, or Roethke—and hear that voice that spoke up from the page, to us.

And for.

That’s what our guests are always up to, gig-after-gig,
voicing live from the stage what is scary, and scandalous, and scanned,
and granting permission to folks-young-as-we-were to speak—
and that in poems.

Here’s a little video of a student slamming a poem for them after one of their shows…
(Kidding—we have no screen here. But it happened.)

Legit now: Mason, Scott, hanging with you has been a highlight for me this week.

Year after year, you
bring the Mayhem Poets, you
get mayhem, poets.

Please welcome them to our stage.

-Delivered at the 2017 Palm Beach Poetry Festival. Scott Raven and Mason Granger (l to r), two of The Mayhem Poets, regaled a couple thousand students with poems like this one (“What You Want”).

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