Sunday, March 29, 2009

One hour without lights -- but with poetry

At 8:28, we lit the candles, switched off the TV and turned out the lights. By 8:30, we were in the dark, but for the soothing glow of four candles.

We were members of the southeast Wyoming contingent of Earth Hour. All over the globe, people (even entire cities) were turning off lights at the behest of the World Wildlife Fund. It was an effort to bring attention to global warming and the threat it poses to wildlife.

Cheyenne wasn't one of the participating cities. But we decided to do our part, thinking it might be fun and illuminating. Annie's friend Brandon came for dinner and the switching off of the lights. Chris, Annie and I We were celebrating Brandon's first-place finish in the 10th-grade poetry category for Young Authors. He and Annie are fellow writers, which puts them in a minority at their high school. But it's a feisty minority, one that speaks its mind and is only dimly aware that there are many service industry jobs in their future as they work toward that big literary prize.

Brandon brought his poems, which he read by candlelight. They were very good, filled with teen angst and some sharp words and phrases. When he finished, we talked about the work and his delivery style. He said he read too fast and I agreed, but told him that some poems might need to be read faster than others. Often young writers read their work in a burst of syllables, and they're hard to understand. Also, a monotone can be a problem. But Brandon, it seems, had practiced.

We spoke of other things. Brandon's car wreck the week before, which he'd survived without a scratch. Annie's prose writing. A little bit about global warming. I became curious about our neighborhood's darkness level. I looked outside. It seemed darker than usual, but that could just be my imagination. I felt like one of those air raid wardens from World War II. That house is totally dark, but there's some light leaking from the one next door. Don't those idiots know that there's a war on?

Actually, there is a war on. Literal wars, such as Iraq and Afghanistan. But a war on the planet, too. We may have to assume a war footing to battle this one.

Poetry could be one of our secret weapons.

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