Poetry reading by Charles Webb
The art and practice of poetry still lives today, as was witnessed by a group of Santa Monica College students this past Thursday. Inspirational poets like Charles Harper Webb are living breathing examples of why poetry is far from a dying breed. Webb, an English professor at CSU Long Beach shared with an audience his own personal journey on the essence of being a poet and its successes. His readings ranged from poems that were humorous, to those with a more personal appeal.
A particularly moving poem of Webb's was "The Animals Are Leaving," which focused on the increasing number of animal extinctions that occur frequently over time.
A verse that stood out from the poem was "One by one, like grade school friends, they move away and fade out of our memory." Webb chanted each animal name as if he was really saying goodbye, and with each verse dripping with melancholy, he gave important recognition to each extinct animal.
When asked about his motivation for writing "The Animals are Leaving," Webb replied, "It was more like the concept of a poem, just trying to get the point across." He elaborated why the poem wasn't long because he is familiar with the concept of ‘reader boredom.'
Between his poetry readings, Webb was open to any questions or feedback from the audience. He informed them that his main purpose in writing is to be understood, and to make a connection with the reader on different issues, which is something he tries to teach his own students.
He has been teaching poetry and creative writing for some time and gave some helpful insight into the process of creating and coming to know poetry.
He also had room in his life for his other passion, music. "I loved being a musician," Webb said, recounting his experiences when he used to be the lead guitarist of a band when he was younger.
Now, he's fully preoccupied as a father to a son he adores and has also written about it in his poetry. Webb enjoys being a poet and helping students understand the right concepts of poetry and how it should be portrayed. He finds poetry significant to oneself, believing that "a poem is like a shark…if it stops moving forward, it dies. Also, a strong one can eat you alive."