The Bar Chronicles, #6: ‘The Bards of The Genesee’

Bar Night 2

‘I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree…’ (1)

The Genesee River works its way north from Pennsylvania through the hills, valleys and plateaus of western New York, cascading over falls, sliding over limestone and shale before slicing through Rochester and quietly slipping into the Great Lake, Ontario, at the city’s port.  The river is a landmark of our community, inspiring photographers, writers and poets.

high-falls

(photo by Kathy Davis: blog.life-verses.com)

 Tonight, at the Wegman’s Pub* in Perinton, NY,  was a night for poetry, inspired not by the river, but by ‘beer and brotherhood’.

‘Let those who are in favor with their stars
of public honor and proud titles boast…’ (2)

To call us ‘Bards’’ would be an exaggeration. We’re just four old guys sitting around a table, enjoying a couple of brews and reading poetry. Four men with three hundred combined years, reading other people’s work, real poets’ work. A beautiful thing!

 A tool-maker, a software engineer, a Marine fighter pilot and a screw salesman, reading Blake, Kilmer and Shakespeare between sips of IPAs, stouts and lagers. But not just reading them, actually interpreting them and discussing the role of poetry in our own lives. Believe me, it happened.

From the personification of a tree as a living being to tigers and everlasting love, we brought our favorite poems to the table tonight and read them aloud, in a pub.  Our voices rose to the occasion.

Who knew Joyce Kilmer was a man?  One of us admitted taking a poetry class.  Shakespeare was being Shakespeare, and one of us was never exposed to poetry.  Life’s lessons are a result of our own places and times.  Growing up in coal country, on a farm or in an urban setting makes a difference in one’s experiences. Sharing those differences is exciting.

‘Tyger, Tyger, burning bright,
 In the forests of the night…’ (3)

When did poetry come into our lives, someone asked.  I’m not sure, myself, I suppose it was required reading in school.  In 5th grade, I memorized the first few stanzas of Longfellow’s ‘The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere’ and still can recite it, although I forget names of people I’ve recently met.

Some find poetry inspirational, I enjoy its imagery.  Poets excel at using language to effectively tell their stories.  The rhythm of their words completes a process that makes poetry so different from prose. Poems have ‘voices’.

Do you like poetry?  Tell us your favorite. By the way, I recommend reading it with beer and friends…

‘The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees…
And the highwayman came riding, riding, riding…’(4)

srbottch.com

  1. Trees by Joyce Kilmer
  2. Shakespeare’s Sonnet #25
  3. The Tyger by William Blake
  4. The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes.

*The Pub at Wegmans in Perinton was very nice. More of an eating environment than a genuine pub, but it was quiet, perfect for our social event.  We didnt have to ‘cup’ our ears.

 

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srbottch

Retired in 2013 after 5 years as an elementary school teacher and 40 years as a sales representative. My essays/stories are a way to communicate through the telling of personal experiences. One reader said about my essays, "...these are like a cold sip during a marathon run, simple, real life events". Enjoy the run!

16 thoughts on “The Bar Chronicles, #6: ‘The Bards of The Genesee’”

  1. Oh, my goodness! I love everything about this. Guys (of any age) discussing poetry over beer, remembering poetry memorized in school (Abou Ben Adhem, may his tribe increase!), your “call to action.” My favorites tend to be “naturey, ” which puts Frost high on my list. Because of your post, I revisited “Abou Ben Adhem” this morning and given the times we live in, I believe it just moved to the top of my favorites list. Thank you for this maybe-the-best-yet post!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I read Abou Ben Adhem and it’s terrific. Thank you so much for your gracious comment. I struggle to get these stories right. It takes me too long to get where I want it. But the effort is worth it when I read your comments. Remember, you are the one who suggested, may, urged me to write ‘The Bar Chronicles’. By the way, as a mental exercise, I memorized and recited several long poems. They can be seen on YouTube at ‘srbottch.com’. I’m not much for the camera since I usually smile more than I did when taping them. But it was fun. Let me know if you view them. 😉🍺

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      1. Thanks for continuing the struggle. I sincerely hope to purchase a hard copy of The Bar Chronicles some day. Signed, of course! I did view some of your YouTube poems and was delighted to see “The Face on the Barroom Floor.” For as long as I can remember, tales were told of my great aunt who often recited that poem. No one knew why or how she started that, but those who had heard her remembered it fondly. By the time I was old enough to understand, she had forgotten all but a line or two, and no one managed to find a copy to refresh her memory (pre-Google). After her passing, it was largely forgotten, I suppose, until I saw your rendition. Both my mother and I thank you for that! I also loved “The Cremation of Sam McGee.” I lived in Alaska for a time which is where I was introduced to the poetry of Robert Service and heard it recited many times by crusty ol’ Yukon types. My favorite Service poem is “The Spell of the Yukon.” It plays in my head when I am homesick for the Great Land. “There’s a land – oh it beckons and beckons, and I want to go back – and I will. Your post and the conversation it has sparked are making my writing brain itch. This isn’t the end.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thank you for all the nice things you say about my stories. I scratch my head and wonder why. It’s a challenge writing them but it’s fun to see the finished product. As for ‘TFOTBarRoomF’, my dad was a house painter and he would recite the one line, ‘I’m a painter, not one who dabs on brick and wood, but an artist’. I had to find the poem and it became another challenge, to memorize it. If I smiled a bit more, The videos would have been a little more interesting to watch. Glad they touched a nerve with you. Have a great week. Steve

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Why? Well, maybe you strike a chord, common experiences and all that. Or maybe I’m just weird like that. Really, you write the kind of stuff I enjoy reading. You notice and appreciate things that go unobserved by most. The only problem with those videos is that they destroyed my idea of you as a “geezer.” You aren’t nearly as “geezery” as you claim. Had to revamp my mental image.

        Liked by 1 person

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