Milwaukie Poetry Series

Last Wednesday I went and saw Harold Johnson read at the Pond House at 2215 SE Harrison Street by the Ledding Library in Milwaukie, OR, as part of the eighth season of the Milwaukie Poetry Series. Harold Johnson is a local Portland poet.  He published a full length poetry volume in 2014 called Citizenship.  Harold’s poetry was full of his life experience, family history, political history, black history, and baseball.  Mostly, baseball…


I kid.  Harold had a lot of different experiences to share and to lend his creative insight to.  Harold has a bright spirit and a lot of talent.  Beyond the poetry itself, which was incredibly powerful and moving, the moment that struck me most in the reading was the moment when someone asked Harold when he started writing poetry.  I cannot quote his exact response, but he said something along the lines of that he would memorize poems in junior high and was very good at it.  And when he started writing poetry in high school was when he realized that no one cared about it–poetry.  He said this matter of factly, not indignantly or sulkily.  It was such an interesting thing to hear a poet say, especially in a room full of people that had just listened to him read, haha.  However, I do very much understand what he means in the sense it is not given as much stock in a way, as prose is. And, also, it just is not a cool art form in the way that music or movies are considered cool.   Now I myself am not fit to exp20150408_203147lain why that is. Personally, I have read many poems that have been just as pleasurable and exciting and enthralling to me as a good movie.  Poems that felt like roller coasters and poems with images that flashed through my imagination like moving pictures and sounds that echoed in my brain in surround sound.  I guess maybe it’s the whole reading thing that makes it uncool… and yet we’re all such big readers nowadays with the internet. It can’t be that either.  So I wonder.

I am extremely grateful to have found out about the Milwaukie Poetry Series.  I found out a little bit late, unfortunately, but there are still two more readings!!!  Lisa Steinman reads on May 13th and Annie Lighthart on June 10th, both on Wednesdays at 7pm.


Also, you can read Harold Johnson’s poem “Smell Theory” through The Oregonian. And you can read a few others by him through KBOO.


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