Arranging the Pieces… Sparking the love of curiosity and learning


By Tabitha Bozeman

This past week I had the opportunity to host an annual poetry reading. I love these events and look forward to them all year and plan for months.

There are a lot of little and big things to think about, such as where will we have the event, who will be the guest readers, will we have food or just waters and what time will work best, considering previous readings. The list goes on and on and grows every year.

This year was no exception; except I had a broken leg and wheel chair to navigate. Questions raced through my mind – would I still have all the details taken care of? Would it be a “good” reading? Would anyone show up?

I started to stress out about it but eventually reigned that in by reminding myself that even a lackluster reading was better than having to cancel. By the end of the day, I was glad I hadn’t allowed myself to become overwhelmed, because as I watched and listened to our talented local writers share their work, I was reminded of what were the really important aspects of this event.

Several of the readers were young poets who had never read in front of an audience before. Seeing them share their creative work was a reminder of why we started hosting these events in the first place. Creative work deserves to be shared and appreciated, seen and heard and read. Providing an opportunity for students to share alongside writing veterans, unpublished poets alongside published poets, allows for valuable learning and presenting experience and builds confidence. Beyond these positives, the chance to visit with other creatives is invaluable.

Life is busy. It is unpredictable. It can be chaotic, and it is easy to become exhausted and depleted. Creative work requires us to slow down and pay attention to the things we let slide by when we are caught in the rush of daily survival. Being around others who intentionally slow down long enough to capture those details on paper or canvas is a way to remind us to do the same. Chatting with other artists and writers after an event like a poetry reading is an opportunity to learn from their experiences, share our own lessons and brainstorm new ideas. It feels indulgently rewarding to spend some time like this, which I think is because it is intrinsically rewarding.

It is not particularly obvious to anyone else that someone gained new understanding of an art form, or perspective that encouraged empathy, or felt better about their ability to present publicly as a result of attending a poetry reading. In our world, the extrinsic is what grabs attention – the titles, money or physical objects won from hard work. But the intrinsic is important, too. My students and children and everyone around me benefits from the recharging I experience when my curiosity and enthusiasm for learning is rekindled.

On Friday morning, we were rushing to get out of the door. Since I am a passenger for a few more weeks, my husband is on double drop-off duty to get us all where we need to be. That means leaving a little earlier, and sometimes being a little rushed. This past Thursday  night, our whole family attended this year’s poetry reading for the Cardinal Arts Journal. One of my daughters  shared an original poem with the group. Afterward, several of us grabbed dinner and continued to discuss creative topics. It was relaxing and invigorating and just what the doctor ordered. Friday morning, though, we were rushing because of our late night.

In the middle of our rush, one of the girls excitedly pointed out that there were several deer on the road in front of our house. We all stopped what we were doing and quietly huddled in front of the window to watch. The deer slowed, perked up their ears and looked at the house. It felt like they were looking right at us. A few moments later, the deer scampered off to the neighbor’s yard. We let out the breath we’d been collectively holding and continued our mad dash out to school and work. But, in that moment of calm, I glanced around at all of us watching and appreciating these beautiful creatures, and I was glad we’ve taken the time to make sure our girls have creative experiences like they’d had the night before, and realized I’m already looking forward to the next event.

Tabitha Bozeman teaches English at Gadsden State Community College, where she is the editor-in-chief of the Cardinal Arts Journal. The opinions expressed are her own. She may be reached at

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