Poetry workshop held at library

Kekoa Martinho (photo center) receives his free book from Dan Converse (photo left) and John Aitchison (photo right) of The Greater Grants Pass Rotary club, Sat April 22 at the Illinois Valley Library. The club has partnered with the library to giveaway free books to children. The free books will be available at the IV Library while supplies last.

A poetry workshop was held at the library in Cave Junction on Saturday, April 22, courtesy of the Josephine Community Library District. Local poet Lisa Baldwin utilized this event to introduce community members to her “philosophy of poetry,” and teach participants about an ancient form of poetry called pantoum.
Baldwin is a self-described “poetry evangelist” and a longtime resident of the Jerome Prairie area who spent 30 years as a teacher in Grants Pass. Upon her retirement, Baldwin decided to embrace her love of the written word, even going so far as to start her own independent publishing company, N8tive Run Press. She explained when interviewed “I love spending my time just wallowing in poetry. I might be a bit of a poetry pusher, but I like it that way.”
Baldwin’s personal philosophy of poetry is simple: “The work of a poet is to recognize poetry in the physical, living world and translate that experience into a common language,” said Baldwin, adding, “A poem conveys understanding more than knowledge, perspective more than depiction.” To Baldwin, the words that are used in poetry are just as important as the silences, insinuations and overall rhythm.
She went on to explain that a poet has many tools in their metaphorical “tool box” of sorts when it comes to creating their art. Along with the 26 letters in the alphabet, there are five elements of style- diction, detail, syntax, form and point of view. When combined, these tools can create vivid mental landscapes for a reader to traverse, bringing about anything from simple imagery to thought-provoking questions.
The form of poetry that Baldwin focused on in her workshop, pantoum, began in the 13th century as a way for monks to orally teach their many prayers. Like many things from Eastern cultures, the artform began circulating and was quickly adopted by Western society. There is a particular method to this artform, with each poem being comprised of four stanzas made up of four lines each. Despite the fact that there are 16 lines in a pantoum as a whole, the poem itself consists of eight lines that are repeated in specific places.
Though there were only a handful of participants, each of them quickly discovered as they wrote that by the fourth stanza, their lines had fallen into place much more succinctly than they had anticipated. Poems about loss, childhood and nature were read, each impacting listeners in their own unique ways.
At the end of the workshop, Baldwin encouraged all participants to develop their own love of poetry by looking into local organizations such as the Oregon Poetry Association, or even by simply signing up to get a poem delivered to their email once a day via the website poets.org. “Poetry is for everyone!” she emphasized.
Lisa Baldwin’s latest poetry book is called Jerome Prairie Creation Myths and Other Farm Tales. It has been published through her company, N8tive Run Press. Baldwin will be doing a book signing in June at Oregon Books in Grants Pass. You can also visit her publishing company’s website at www.n8tive-run-enterprises.weeblysite.com for information about her other works.