October 17th: Inside the Water Street Bookstore during tonight’s memorial poetry reading. We’ve been out of town for several days and were looking forward to a quiet night at home. But with the simple act of reading last week’s weekly arts paper over lunch, our quiet evening in turned into a loud evening out (well, as loud as poetry can get…). I first spotted a listing for a reading by the newly-appointed U.S. Poet Laureate, Natasha Trethewey, at Phillips Exeter Academy (PEA). The reading was part of the Lamont Poetry Series, and it was free and open to the public. Attending was a no-brainer; in the poetry universe, it’s not the kind of event you miss. We arrived in Exeter a little early and stopped first at the Water Street Bookstore to listen to poets reading at a separate event, also spotted in the paper: a memorial for local poet Charlie Pratt, sponsored by the Portsmouth Poet Laureate Program. Pratt, who passed away in May, taught for many years at PEA and also owned Apple Annie orchard in nearby Brentwood. It was evident by the readers and speakers at the memorial that he was a beloved member of the community. From the bookstore, it was a crisp five-minute walk to the PEA campus for the main event. Trethewey read for an hour, weaving poems from three of her books with academic and personal anecdotes. Unlike the hundreds of swarming prep schoolers who were conscripted, we attended voluntarily…and liked it.
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