Sabrina Ogden's Reviews > Feasting at the Table of the Damned

Feasting at the Table of the Damned by Daniel Ames
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Jun 03, 11


My first encounter with poetry, besides the usual copied poems we were all forced to write on cards for Mother's Day and Valentine's Day in kindergarten and early elementary school, was in my 5th grade class at Condon Elementary in St. Helens, Oregon. Oh, how I wish I remember this teacher's name. I remember what he looked like. He stood about 5'6" and had thick graying hair with a full beard and mustache. His eyes were a light blue. He had a limp with partial paralysis on his right side from having polio as a child. He was kind. He was funny. And sometimes, when he didn't think we were watching, he'd pick his nose hairs with tweezers. He really was my favorite teacher. Probably because he treated all of us the same; as if we were all capable of achieving greatness. He treated us that way even when we failed at something.

For me it was poetry.

He spent several days teaching us the ins and outs of poetry. He talked to us about rhythm and rhyming... and about a hundred other things, I'm sure. It was a long time ago, and I'm afraid in all of the years I've spent filling my brain with goodness this was, sadly, the only time I ever remember being taught anything about poetry. Well, he taught us and sent us off to write a poem, and then had us take turns reading our poems to the class.

Oh, boy!

I don't have the poem I wrote memorized in its entirety, but I do remember the first two lines...

*dramatic pause*

I'm about to enter embarrassment territory, but it's all for the greater good... I promise.

There was a little deer
Standing next to a can of beer...

Hey, no laughing. I was in 5th grade for crying out loud.

The poem did improve along the way, and according to my teacher, my rhyming and rhythm were perfect. But we both knew that poetry wasn't my thing and that I wouldn't be earning a living writing greeting cards for Hallmark.

Since then I've always been fascinated with poetry. I just find it hard to understand. I think I've been conditioned in life to believe that every single thing, every single day, is a test. When in some ways it probably is, in other ways... like reading poetry, it isn't.

I had to remember that while reading Feasting at the Table of the Damned by Daniel Ames. His poetry wasn't a test for me. It was a chance for me to take a look inside myself and find a relationship with the imagery he put together with words. At times the book is filled with humor. At other times it is dark in its truthfulness. I could read about places that I've never been to and envision them in full detail with every word written in a poem. I found myself connecting and remembering some of the pain I have felt in my own life. Every word rang true to me. It was a beautiful tale about life. The good and the bad. Both, woven together as a reminder of how our choices, and unintended life circumstances, change us.
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