Monday, April 25, 2011

State Poet Laureate at Newark Free Library

She breezes in, greets everyone by a nod, apologizes for being late and engages us right away by explaining that she has just been working on a new poem and would like to read it to us.

JoAnn Balingit exudes warmth as she reads her latest poem about Herring Point –one of many poems inspired by her walks around Delaware. ‘I rename it for my life because we all fall down’ is a line that keeps ringing through my head.

She reads eleven of her poems and she notices her works are lighting sparks in her listeners. She calmly lets them interrupt with questions. She is focused on her listeners.

One of her poems was written for Delaware’s 50th Governor’s Prayer Breakfast in April 2010. The Gulf oil spill had just occurred and Ms. Balingit scrapped her other drafts to write Prayer for the Gulf, a very moving verse tribute.

Her poem Circus, which recounts a dream about her late mother, reassures anyone who has to admit that the late loved one is no longer present.

After her reading, she invites people to read their own poems. Many have fairly polished works and afterwards we all chat like old friends.

When she was first appointed as Delaware’s 16th poet laureate in May 2008 she said, “I want to convince as many people as possible to give poetry a chance – to see if they’re willing to be wooed or not.” Many are willing.

Keep checking your library schedule as Ms. Balingit will start regular poetry readings in the New Castle County Public Libraries.


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