Stir up Whidbeyian youth to merriments. Awake the pert and nimble spirit of mirth. Turn your rain-soaked melancholy to dreams of sunshine. Poetry and song is the pomp for this “Midsummer Dream Night.”
Shakespeare may be cringing in his grave over that blatant assault on one speech from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” but such burglary is sometimes necessary when one wishes to capture the poetic mood of certain events.
The Rob Schouten Gallery has invited a bevy of talented “Whidbeyians” to perform an evening of poetry and song to celebrate the onset of summer.
“Midsummer Dream Night” will ring in the summer solstice from 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday, June 21 at the gallery located at Greenbank Farm.
The first evening of summer may be the most appropriate time to treat the ear to music and poetry and that is what host Victory Lee Schouten said she had in mind with this event.
Joseph Sanchez will play his mystical brand of vibrational music on the didgeridoo, drums and harmonium and singer, songwriter Joni Takanikos will lay bare her particularly poetic heart, accompanied by her ever-sweet and unencumbered voice. Her performance, Takanikos said, will be directed by her long time allies: truth and beauty.
The two musicians will also play together as the evening rolls on to deeper enchantments.
Some of the island’s most accomplished and inspiring poets will be performing including Robin Barre, Lorraine Healy, Angela Ramsayer, Schouten and Jane Winslow.
“I very much admire the work of these performing artists and am delighted to both host them at the gallery and have a chance to read with them,” Schouten said, adding that it will be the last performance for Winslow before Whidbey Island loses her to the East Coast.
Barre wondered if the summer would even get here and mused on the power of poetry to perhaps bring one closer to the light of the season.
“Poetry, like dream, is the oldest language of the soul. We can hear the dreaming soul and feel the planet’s turn toward light through poetic language. This is grace given — for earth and all that lives upon and within it.”
Healy spoke of her native Buenos Aires and compared it to the onset of summer in the Northwest.
“This year, it feels like the solstice will look like the solstices of my childhood. In Buenos Aires, June 21 is the shortest day of the year, usually cold and rainy,” Healy said.
“My first solstice in this country was in 1994 and it was around 100 degrees in Seattle. Weather makes for such poetic opportunities.”
Indeed the heat of the sun plays a role in this poem that won Healy a Thomas Merton Honorable Mention Prize for “Poetry of the Sacred:”
This is what the old woman has done
for the last three years: soak sun
with a white hen on her lap. There can’t be a
bigger measure of contentment, sun on the face,
white hen on lap. After scores of years
selling antiques and old cars, breeding poodles,
after the long bout with life’s small tasks,
there are these happy years of backyard
and sun. And on her lap, the white hen.
Then, one day, the hen is gone. A reason
untrivial like the need for stew, a lone
fox, the neighbor’s dog. Somebody ought to tell
the old woman the news. Around her chair,
half-grown chicks peck feed, oblivious to the sun.
Somebody needs to deal with the sad path
of bright white feathers. How the old
untether suddenly, the warm weight
of morning no longer enough. How they go
fast, like a flash of white, after
the feathery roundness of what they’ve loved.
Schouten too seems to honor the lazy warm days of summer and the setting sun in her poem “Church” which reveals the sacredness of the natural world:
Lying on cushion of white clover
I spread arms and rock hips.
Watch night darken sky.
Alone, dusky winds
blow cool feathers
across smooth bare skin.
Gods touch what they love.
So, for those who wish to celebrate the warmer months ahead, stop by the farm and enter the dream.
In addition to the performances and a bit of refreshment, the ceramic sculptures of Gayle Lutschg and the paintings and prints of Rob Schouten will be on display at the gallery and will continue through July 1.
The Rob Schouten Gallery is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For info, call 222-3070 or e-mail email@example.com.