Poetry 101--Mischief Cafe

The second week of November I had the pleasure of hosting a complete stranger in my home, the diminuitive L.L. Barkat, a woman with a contagious laugh, a love of poetry and instigator of the Mischief Cafe--sort of a traveling road show with tea, toast and poetry. Laura is the curator of Tweetspeak Poetry, a website dedicated to bringing the beauty and wonder of poetry out of the ivory towers and down to the rest of us. The idea for a traveling cafe came from a Facebook conversation which morphed (156 comments later) into a book, complete with found poems, blank pages--for the writer--and poetry prompts as well. The blank pages are my favorite. You can read more about Mischief Cafe's origins here.)
With an event like a Mischief Café happening right in your own home (well, my kitchen,too) one would expect laughter.  Even if the guests included (almost) complete strangers whom you’d actually never met in real life.

So, with a feather boa and my Mischief Café volume handy, I was looking forward to some fun. We were duly rewarded. There were some uproarious guffaws from a couple of guests (I’m not naming names) as publishing stories were shared and hearts were bared.

While I expected a congenial time (I enjoy having guests in my home—even if they’re—ahem, an hour and a half early) but the ease with which said total strangers made themselves at home was a gift and a surprise.

Laura (L.L.) and I had time to cover ground in person that we'd only typed out between us. Our conversation was like that between old friends, friends I knew well but hadn’t seen in a long while. Friends who shared a love of poetry and writing and mischief (oh, and tea).
photo by LL Barkat, 
(l to r) Laura Smedley, Kimberlee Conway Ireton, moi, Jennifer Wagner (Poet Laundry)

And we had tea….with cinnamon toast, buttered very liberally by L.L. She made herself completely at home in my kitchen and chatted as if we’d been doing it all our lives.
That was a blessed surprise.

Kimberlee stole my feather boa...Jennifer and Laura smiling,
LL being elusive

I was also surprised to be intrigued rather than repelled (as I was on my first read) by the form and sound of a sestina.  As L.L. read aloud one of her poems, I found myself listening to the words as they looped through the air, trailing each other in conjoined phrases, like links in a chain holding a golden key at the end.  I felt like the puzzle of the form had been unlocked as I listened.

I was left feeling I might actually try to write one soon.

See what fun reading out loud and cinnamon toast with tea can get you?
And now the Poetry 101 Part:
Below is a graphic of a sestina.........which illustrates the sound of Laura's voice reading a selection from her book 'Love, Etc.' the poem, 'Petit a Petit L'oiseau fait son nid'

If you'd like to know more about Tweetspeak Poetry or how to order your copy of 'Mischief Cafe', click here.


  1. I'll try a sestina if you will ;) Thank you again, Jody, you were the perfect hostess-warm, fun and inviting!

    1. Jennifer, when I'll tackle my 'homework' after Thanksgiving and let you know..

  2. Delightful.

    (And there's nothing to do but make oneself at home in a kitchen when asked to mix nuts with cream cheese ;-) )

    1. Did I do that????So glad you were up to the task. :-)

  3. "the puzzle of the form had been unlocked" -- this is the beauty of these Mischief Cafés, yes? (Oh, the power of feathers and a quarter cup of butter! :)

    1. Matthew, there were many pieces to this perfect evening---hearing poetry read aloud was definitely a highlight, unlocking the poem's mystery.