Poetry lives
Live Poets Society members (l-r): Noreen McDonald, Rose Marie, Joan Flanagan and Betsy Wittner.


Poetry lives


SUFFOLK COUNTY—The Live Poets Society held its latest meeting on Sunday, Aug. 12 at Barnes & Noble on Sunrise Highway in Bay Shore. The Islip Town group welcomes members from all over Long Island.

Noreen McDonald of Islip opened the meet-up with a reading of Jane Kenyon’s (1947-1995) poem “Let Evening Come,” which is available in print and online. 

One of the attendees, Joan Flanagan, really took to one of the poem’s lines that read: “God does not leave us comfortless, so let evening come.” She recalled a time when her car got stuck on the side of the road during a snowstorm. While countless other vehicles passed Flanagan, there was one Good Samaritan that helped her out, confirming that even in the darkest hour there is hope. 

A reading of William Blake’s (1757-1827) poem “The Divine Image” soon followed. The famous last stanza reads: “And all must love the human form/In heathen, Turk, or Jew;/Where Mercy, Love, and Pity dwell/There God is dwelling too.” 

Betsy Wittner, another attendee, said she wished the message could be conveyed “to a certain someone,” who she didn’t name. “He makes my skin crawl,” she added. 

Blake’s poem is also available in print and online. 

Those attending the meet-up were then encouraged to share personal works. Wittner recited her poem “Encore! Bravo!” for the group.

McDonald founded the poetry group decades ago with another Islip Town resident, Barbara Donovan. The group was inspired by the 1989 Robin Williams movie “Dead Poets Society.” Both women had previously taught creative writing workshops for the elderly at the historic Brookwood Hall on Irish Lane in East Islip. 

McDonald said the reason for the group’s formation, besides her obvious love for poetry, was to keep busy on Sundays.

Flanagan said (with her poem “Being Busy”) the best cure for boredom is staying busy.

“That’s what we do with this group,” Flanagan said. “We stay busy.” 

Future meetings of the Live Poets Society will be held on Sept. 9, Oct. 14, Nov. 1 and Dec. 9 from 1-3 p.m., at the Islip Library on Monell Avenue. Those who wish to attend are encouraged to bring copies of their own poetry to share. For more information, call Noreen McDonald at 631-581-6740. 

Here is a sampling of some of the poets’ work: