Poems in the air
Tulips rise up from the ground
Spring is here at last!
With tensions running high in The Park this Spring, organizers of annual Park functions could be forgiven for dreading the very events that all of us have come to cherish.
And that’s exactly how it was for Seymour K. Worthington Polar Bear, whose first term as chief organizer of the Polar Bears’ Poetry Picnic (the position requires a three-year commitment) began on February 14.
“I was thrilled when I received the offer to become the Picnic’s chief organizer,” said Worthington, at a party held in his honour after the event. “But after the [Return of the] Nut business, I have to admit that that feeling was overtaken by dread.”
The 2012 winner of the first prize in The Park’s annual Toe-Hair Contest says he was “spooked” by the protests at that ceremonial event and by the chaos that ensued.
“Violence, arrests, a lack of respect for the occasion itself…I started wondering if we should postpone the Picnic or even skip it this year,” he says.
Though he never faltered in his commitment to the event, Worthington says he spent many sleepless nights wondering whether Park citizens were moving away from the very traditions that had made The Park viable in the first place.
After all, according to a survey conducted in early March by The Department of Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations, Park residents are thinking twice about attending this year’s celebrations.
“The desire is there, there’s no doubt about that,” says Aintza Kanariar, Director of Public Relations for the department. “Park Animals love to celebrate. We love our seasonal festivals. And celebration has become a large part of our identity. But there’s also no doubt that recent eruptions at public events have taken their toll. These [festivals] are meant to be enjoyable but Animals are beginning to wonder whether they’re risking their safety by attending. That’s a situation we have to deal with head-on or we’ll soon find that we have nothing to celebrate,” she says.
As Picnic time drew closer, Worthington says he felt a responsibility to “to resurrect our celebratory spirit by redirecting our collective energy.” He decided to focus the Picnic on “happy, haiku poems.” No epics, no ballads, no elegies. Just “the shortest about the best,” he says.
“I wanted it to be upbeat. The Picnic has always been upbeat, though there has always been a mix of poetic styles. But this year, I decided to take control of it before it took control of me.”
Despite some staffers’ warnings that restrictions might keep Animals away, Worthington stood his ground. And triumphed in the end.
“I knew that if no one showed up, my first term would be my last,” he says. But in the end, Park Animals proved their commitment to The Park and to each other.
“The success of this year’s Picnic is the most beautiful poem of all,” Worthington says.