Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Poetry show

Zarina got invited to participate in a poetry event at the factory where she works. Nearly everybody at the factory is visually disabled in some way, and it’s a group of people I’m gradually getting to know as a volunteer guide. Because they’re dependent on each other from time to time, they’ve got a special group dynamic that I enjoy seeing and experiencing. I asked if she could get me an invitation to the performance.

Zarina finally confirmed my invitation just before the event. I’d already made other plans for the day, and felt a little bit conflicted about taking the afternoon off, but knew the moment that I walked into the room that I’d made the right choice. In addition to the people I already knew, a variety of new people came in, helping each other with their coats and finding chairs for everybody. I looked around and discovered that everybody had gotten dressed up, and wished that I’d dialed up my own outfit one more step. This show looked to be a big deal.

I knew that I’d gotten my invitation as a special privilege, so when more people arrived I gave up my seat for them and offered to stand at the back of the room. One of the hostesses could see me, and she’d have none of that. She went out with a couple of other people and brought in some more chairs and made me take a seat in the newly-added front row. I felt extra special now.

The show couldn’t have been better. Nearly everybody had memorized their poems, some of which were quite long, during the course of a month. And then they presented them with appropriate amounts of humor, passion and pathos: poems translated from Shakespeare, as well as classic Russian poets, and modern Soviet poets. I understood them well enough to enjoy them, though I found one or two of the poems a little difficult. I also had a really good time watching the teacher and master of ceremonies read a few extra poems from braille. She held her sheaf of papers sideways and strummed the text like a guitar, reading by hand as quickly as she could talk. I’ve never seen anybody read braille before, and I had no idea it could be so efficient.

I’m inspired to try to learn one of the poems myself. I’ve downloaded it and I read it aloud one time to Alla. I had a hard time with the text and need to look up a few of the words, but I’ll practice bit by bit. I wish I’d made a recording from the show, because the reader did an excellent job with this poem’s humor, pacing and inflection. I’d like to learn to approximate that.

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