I hate to write things here that would give a journal-like feel, since that would suggest a poverty in ideas, but for me there are ideas of lasting value to be gleaned from this, so: I finally ended up attending one of Cheerio's poetry sessions. It was very....informative. And I saw two blog authors who I had not yet seen in person (Dowy and Altie, ...it's only right to link).
First of all in regards to poetry: Now, if you were to approach me in the past asking if there is any correlation between Chassidut Chabad and a great appreciation of poetry I'm afraid I would have had to answer in the negative. My surprise, therefore, at such a love for poetry as displayed by adherents of that Chassidut, in which each and every individual present was called up to read just as on Simchat Torah, was not small. Personally it was not only the approach but also the very content and form of the poetry that I found eye-opening, since, as with most things, I've only recently come to decipher what is appreciable about modern forms of this art.
I personally come from a background of great appreciation for the beautiful verse and form of the Hebrew prose of Halevi, Ben Gevirol and the like, and I scoffed at the idea that there could be such beauty in English poetry in the same way the French used to mock the idea of beautiful German poetry. But as I've begun to meet poets (they seem to be everywhere in my life all of a sudden) and read more modern poetry I've come to see that today's poetry is not at all about beauty or form, but purely about moods and ideas. And the sort of idea that's lauded most is one that displays the principles of "realism". So far all I can say is that it seems to be a method of great potential for describing ideas and feelings. I shall have to research the subject.
In regards to the readers: A very interesting crowd. All from religious-Chabad households and yet all well educated, well spoken, well written and well trained in any which talent they may surpass at. Truly a well-rounded sort of folk, the kind one rarely sees turn up on the shores of Brooklyn--yet an interesting phenomenon on the American Jewish scene as a whole. Wholly religious and yet wholly American and wholly secular--the sort of thing the Modern Orthodox seem to be striving for. Quite an accomplishment and hopefully a lesson to others as well. I myself on the other hand, have never been quite as well rounded, but rather grapple with every aspect of life as if I were learning to walk for the first time. Yet I don't believe there is any sort of intrinsic difference that separates us; if I had been raised as them there is no question that I too would have been just as well rounded. But it would seem that as for me, G-d had other plans.
I would go on with more meaningless minutiae about my evening, but it is not my custom to be lengthy here.