Arts and Entertainment

Poetry, music, giving

Poets Peter Lawlor and Judith Adams will lead a performance at 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 3 at Mukilteo Coffee Roasters in Langley.    - Patricia Duff / The Record
Poets Peter Lawlor and Judith Adams will lead a performance at 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 3 at Mukilteo Coffee Roasters in Langley.
— image credit: Patricia Duff / The Record

Give yourself over to a voice, a poem and the strains of a violin.

If that sounds like your cup of tea, bring yourself, perhaps a mate, and a bag of food for Good Cheer, to hear poets Judith Adams and Peter Lawlor, and musician Marena Salerno Collins, from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 3 at Mukilteo Coffee Roasters in Langley.

“The joy of writing poetry is its own reward,” Lawlor said.

The octogenarian, originally from New Zealand, started writing poems as a deck hand at the age of 20 and has published four chap books. He believes poems lay mute on the page until they are sprung to life in recitation.

“I love to perform. It is exciting. I think I am a bit of a ham,” he said.

Adams hails from England and, besides their commonality as poets, there’s the tea.

“We have both written for a long time, and only lately were discussing how we showed up at our desk each day, which we discovered involved staring out the windows with a few cups of tea to get us going. And, of course, that started another long discussion on the disaster of a bad cup of tea!” Adams said.

Although she usually performs by herself, Adams said she felt a pull toward Lawlor’s offer to give a reading together.

“Peter has a zest for life that the young would envy, and his poetry is economical and pithy,” Adams said.

Her poems have been published in various publications, and she has had two children’s books published in England. Adams is particularly interested in crafting poems in honor of people and special occasions. She performs regularly with musicians.

Like all poets, both writers are fascinated by the work of other poets.

They will read some of their own poems with subjects as varied as the flamenco dancer, a barrista and the act of casting off. They will also read works by Felix Denis, Pablo Neruda and Antonio Machado, some of which Adams’ fluent daughter will recite in Spanish.

“Neruda fascinates me because he is of Chile, of the sea, and a proclaimed lover,” Lawlor said. “I am taking a ship in February to Valparaiso (Chile) to know more about him. The imagery in his poems is wild, sensuous and unexpected.”

Of poetry, Adams wrote: “A poem is as unique as the lines on your hand, or what it takes for each of us to reach home. And so it is that we live our own odyssey; graceful, awkward, refined, robust, dramatic, reflective and so on, as the river flows through landscapes, sunlight and storms.”

Adams focuses on the modern over-consumptive, underachieving, find-yourself-wasting-time-in-line-for-coffee world in her poem “The Barrista.” In this excerpt she weighs the skewed ambitions of a young woman against the frighteningly real backdrop of the ever-excessive coffee bar:

Behind the tip jar, the “go far”

girl has the plum shift. She’s adrift.

Top job daddy’s sad, daughter’s glad

to land the steam clad coffee-mad

barrista trad.

Coming up.... one grande, double


extra sweet for bambino; one

tall, full fat, Irish cream, dry top


one single tall, sugar free, decaf, nonfat, vanilla why bother.

In his poem “Casting Off,” the seafaring Lawlor pays homage to a coming of age at sea. In an excerpt he writes:

All you need

Is madness in the soul —

Acceptance of frailty in body —

And indignation at the

Awfulness of the sea.

Lawlor’s father, an author, told him to write at least one line that would endure.

“I am proud of perhaps that one line — indignation at the awfulness of the sea,” Lawlor said.

“It expresses my love of the sea with full truth.”

Cash and food donations for the Good Cheer Food Bank will be welcome.

Food and drink will be available at the poetry and music recital. Mukilteo Coffee Roasters is at 5331 Crawford Road. Call 321-5270 for more information.

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