It's been an eventful week, though nothing especially poetry-related. Monday night I heard Martin Sheen speak on campus - if you ever get a chance to hear him, seriously do whatever you can to get there; he's one of the best speakers I've ever heard. Funny, thoughtful, loquacious, generous with his time. I don't necessarily agree with every one of his views, but I have a tremendous degree of respect for the way in which he approaches both his art and his activism. Plus, he opened by reading a poem by Rabindranath Tagore - I don't know the name of the poem, but for you West Wing fans, it sounded so much like something President Bartlet would have chosen. And he read it beautifully, of course.
Afterwards, as he was preparing to leave the stage, a couple of people ran up to the stage wanting autographs. He started signing autographs and chatting with people, and the mob at the edge of the stage got fairly large; Sheen settled in and looked like he had every intention of signing an autograph for every single person there who wanted one (and I'd say there were probably 150-200 people hanging out looking hopeful). After speaking for a good 90 minutes, he was clearly in no hurry to leave; between that and the fact that his entire speaking fee was donated to a non-profit organization he works with - I can't recall the name offhand, but it serves as a sort of mini-Peace Corps and helps bring doctors and other folks to so-called Third World countries - the overall impression I was left with was one of generosity. He was generous with his time, and with his words (and boy, does he have a lot of words - you could probably ask him whether the sky is blue and he'd have thirty minutes of storytelling to do).
Fast-forward to Saturday night; I got to see the Indigo Girls for about the eleventeenth time (I've lost count). Girlyman opened, and they were terrific - check out this great article about them on Slate, in which they talk about "the pursuit of creative risk"; they're interesting people making gorgeous music, and it had been too long since I'd seen them in concert. (Several years!)
Musical highlights of the Indigo Girls' set for me were a particularly gorgeous rendition of "Ghost" (Emily Saliers' voice just gets better as the years go on); a great "Romeo & Juliet" by Amy Ray (I thought, at one point, that I was kind of over that song - and never liked how audiences turned it into a singalong - but this time around it was heartfelt without being over-the-top angsty, and just sounded really good to me); a great lively "Ozilline" with all the members of Girlyman joining in; and to close the show, a gorgeous, a cappella, five-part-harmony version of "Finlandia" with Amy & Emily along with Doris, Ty, and Nate from Girlyman - five singers who all have a beautiful sense of harmony.
Afterwards I decided to be one of the couple dozen fans hanging around by the tour bus. I'd kind of expected it to be pouring down rain after the show, and I've gotten autographs from them & chatted with them before so don't always feel a need to do the wait-by-the-bus thing, so I hadn't brought anything to sign - but the Buskirk-Chumley Theatre had put together lovely programs for the show, so I had that. I didn't pester them for photos, though both Amy & Emily were very graciously posing for photos with the fans who asked. They always seem like such sweethearts. Though I have to wonder if they ever get on the tour bus and trade stories about the crazy or stupid things some of us fans say to them. :) I'm sure they've heard some wacky things and just smiled patiently & moved on down the line to the next, hopefully less nutso, fan.
So the theme of the week? I guess it's the blend of art & activism, as that's a big theme for both Martin Sheen and the Indigo Girls. And generosity, both with your art and with your time.
I'll leave you with this video of "Sugar Tongue," which is on the Indigo Girls' most recent album, Poseidon and the Bitter Bug. The sound quality isn't great, but my camera wasn't made for recording music. (I nabbed videos of the first two songs, shot a few still photos during the third song; the theater manager had requested no photos after the third song, and I was just as glad to put the camera away and be fully present for the rest of the show instead of fiddling with technology.)