by Maddy Irwin
Poetry reminds me of beer. More specifically it reminds me of Cold Smoke, a favorite of Missoula brew enthusiasts. I always pick up the cold pint glass thinking this will be the time I finally gain appreciation for the dark ale that my friends consume generously on our nightly excursions. However, my response is found to be the same puckering of lips and slight crinkling of my nose in an unattractive grimace, immediately followed by a mouthful of my usual vodka-cran to wash down the taste of the dark ale.
My reaction to most poetry instigates a similar response. Much like beer, poetry is an acquired taste, and it is because of that notion that I like to view myself as more of a lover of cocktails and wine rather than the alternative.
When I discovered Melissa Mylchreest was to be our next presenter in our Montana Writers Live class, my first thought was to conveniently contract the stomach flu as to avoid the discussion of poetry in class, a predictable reaction for me. However, I found myself unintentionally – because I tried my hardest to remain true to my consistent dislike of poetry – enjoying her engaging and uninhibited writing style. I found Melissa’s poetry to be sincere and responsive to her frustration with different aspects of her life, a nice change from the usual dark and depressive writing style that many poets seem to fall into. Melissa utilized her poetry as a weapon in expressing her frustration, disappointment, and appreciation for her community, her relationship with a lover, and her experiences within a nature oriented state. The result, I believe, produced an easily relatable story unfolding through her work “Waking the Bones.”
I very reluctantly began the assigned reading before Melissa’s presentation, choosing to put the reading off till the very last half hour preceding the class, however I finished her text with less reluctance, and more curiosity to hear from the artist herself. She didn’t disappoint. Melissa was charming and vivacious, lively. A stark contrast, to me, from the voice found within “Waking the Bones.” It made me believe that Melissa was able to communicate a work of poetry acknowledging and celebrating moments rather than just a specific mentality or genre. I read her poetry as a communication that life should be taken in seconds, that these small moments are not all specifically bad or good, and never congruent to each and every person. It was a message I could appreciate.
So while I still believe myself to be a strict lover of wine and cocktails, I now consider Melissa to be the only exception to transcend my unwavering dislike of all things slant-rhymed and brewed.