Friday, April 28, 2006


I was invited to Buttonwood Books in Cohasset on Wednesday night where once a year they sponsor an open mike evening of poetry for local poets. Their notice is here:
Wed. Apr. 26, 7 p.m.
Middle School Poetry Open Mike Night Event
Location: Buttonwood Books & Toys

Open Mike: ALL contest participants are eligible to read at the open mike event. Parents and Honored Guests are invited (and encouraged!) to read their favorite poem or one of their own creations. Advance sign-up is required for all who would like to read. (This will enable us to better facilitate the evening). Please call Buttonwood at 781-383-2665 to sign-up. Light refreshments will be served.
When Katie and I arrived at Buttonwood we were greeted by the poet, the Honored Guest, who invited us there.
My daughter.
She had taken it upon herself to sign up for a reading of one of her poems.
Now, ordinarily she guards her poetry like the gold at Fort Knox, which I believe is the custom of teenaged girls everywhere. Once in awhile I am granted a looksee but for the most part not so much. So the idea of watching her present her poetry to a willing (and mostly unknown) audience was an unexpected parental pleasure.
We spoke briefly before the event started. I told her that she would do great, because she had spoken of being very nervous just a few hours earlier. Then, a few minutes after 7PM, the event started. Jenna was the 3rd reader.
I watched as her name was called, and she walked to the microphone, notebook in hand. She stood straight, and announced that her poem had no title, as the previous two entrants had. Then, with a pause, she started reading her poem. And I sat enthralled, listening to my daughter talk of want and need, the desires of a young woman and a missing piece of her life - a boy.
Her poem ended to polite applause and she took her seat in front of me. I leaned over and whispered "Well done, honey" as the next poet took the stage.
It was a quick evening, as only 8 people presented their work. We drove her friend home (there for moral support) and then we brought Jenna back home. I hugged her and told her how very proud I was of her.
Jenna has told me that she wants to be a writer; that it is "so awesome when I tell a story with my words that people actually read!" Like any father, I support her endeavors. I believed her when she told me she wanted to be an astronaut (age 5), a fireman, (later age 5), a veterinarian (age 6-9), and a hairdresser (10-13). But this, this "I wanna be" sounded different. And so, if she wants to be a writer then I will proudly attend any event that she invites me to. She may change her mind about writing tomorrow. She may decide that she wants to be a horticulturalist or a ditch digger or a mime (gosh I hope not). But whatever it is, I know that I will support her on whatever path she chooses, writer or not.
But I will say this:
With short, staccato stanzas she made me forget that she was my daughter. For a brief moment she was just a young woman - like the girls I had known in the 8th grade - expressing herself through her words. Words that she had chosen and arranged in just such a way to make her feelings known. Carefully selected words, chosen for impact and lyricism and spoken with conviction. A powerful conviction. Conviction from a young woman in search of herself and exploring the feelings that fill her.
This young woman, this talented young woman, is my daughter. And I am most proud of her.


Blogger Lisa Vinson said...

Jenna is so very lucky to have a Dad that is so supportive and very free with his praise of all of her endevors. Even though it should be, that is not always the norm. You say that you wouldn't like for her to be a Mime but, I know that you would be the first one laughing during her performance and cheering her on. I hope that she knows how blessed she is to have a Dad like you.

8:50 PM, April 28, 2006  
Blogger Summer Ryan Doyle said...

fantastic story, Andy. trust that she'll remember all the love and support you've given (even if you have to get through a few awkward teenage years for it to sink in).

11:29 AM, May 01, 2006  
Blogger Bridget said...

I wish I could have been their to see that moment in person...I hope someday that I am able to support my daughter in the same way that you have supported yours. I have no doubt that you will support Jenna in any endeavour she decides to undertake.

You are a GREAT father!

12:29 AM, May 17, 2006  

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