On July 22, a Sunday afternoon, Woman Made Gallery (and Nina Corwin) hosted a poetry reading by “Poets who Open Doors.” Featured readers were Kristy Bowen (dancing girl press), Shanny Jean Maney (The Encyclopedia Show), Jennifer Karmin (Red Rover Series), Emily Rose Kahn–Sheahan (Mental Graffiti, Real Talk Live), Johanny Vazquez Paz (Palabra Pura, Guild Complex) and Susan Yount (Arsenic Lobster, Chicago Poetry Bordello).
It was a lively and lovely event. Jennifer Karmin asked the audience to participate. Emily Rose Kahn-Sheahan read a poem called “Mouthy,” which I certainly identified with, and she also read a remarkable persona poem invoking Amelia Earhart and Sally Ride (made even more remarkable when the next day we heard the news that Sally Ride passed away). Kristy Bowen captivated the audience when she read from dreamy works in progress and Johanny Vazquez Paz captured my attention (and heart) when she read a poem about her son and his desire for a tattoo.
Like the event for Solace in So Many Words at WMG December 11, this poetry reading was recorded and will be available on the WBEZ’s Chicago Amplified site soon. (Our reading is up on the site and you can listen to it: here.)
I was taken with all the poetry and poets. After hearing Shanny Jean Maney read, I wanted a copy of her book, I Love Science (writebloody.com). She mixes humor and sentiment successfully. I don’t want to give away the book so I’ll only give some selections. Here’s one of her poems—it’s called “Jellybeans! Are! My! Favorite! Legume!” “The only candy, / that at its very best, makes / you want to eat fruit.”
Here’s the middle stanza from her poem “The Universe:” “Ever since I was thirteen, / I have had a crush on the / Periodic Table of Elements– / a proof illustrating that anarchy / is governed by balance, / and mathematics of existence / are indicative of something / immeasurable.” Hearing Shanny read made me want to attend The Encyclopedia Show. The next one will be about dogs and will take place Thursday, September 6, 7:30 pm at The Vittum Theatre in Chicago.
I was a little late to the reading so I didn’t hear Susan Yount. I am assuming she read from her wonderful chapbook “Catastrophe Theory,” which came out this year from Hyacinth Girl Press. Susan’s poems will win you over with their honesty, intensity and intelligence. I especially admire the title poem (“Catastrophe Theory”), as well as “Why Ophelia,” “Spring Break,” “I Worked for a Boss Who Wanted Sex,” and “Humoring Me” (and pretty much the whole book). Here’s a taste of Susan’s work, from her poem “Elementary Catastrophe:” “Hurt was hanging like an ambush, / like an asshole just waiting/ to break up the night.”
Susan is the editor and publisher of Arsenic Lobster Poetry Journal, madam of the Chicago Poetry Bordello, a writer for Rebellious Magazine’s Rebellious Women in Poetry column, and most recently, a publisher (Misty Publications). The premiere title from Misty Publications has recently come out; it is Overpass by Steve Davenport. It is his second book, the first was Uncontainable Noise, and the book notes describe Overpass as revisiting “Uncontainable Noise’s investment in explosive forms (yodel sonnets, 100-line sonnets) via many forms but most often carefully contained, roughneck reductions (curtal or curtailed sonnets). The terrain is the Illinois floodplain (aka American Bottom) across the river from St. Louis; the figure who hovers above it all is a breast cancer victim named Overpass Girl.”
Here’s a taste of Steve’s work from “This Sestina Has Been Sinking;” “Sestina, tonight’s the night I push you off the overpass. / I’m done with your six kinds of hell. Your demanding sky / your French complications, your clouds in my happy wagon, / your forty-two words for rain, your pearl-handled gun, / this concrete and asphalt that leap-frogs the low ground / locals call the Bottom, dirt cursed with industry and blood.”
FB friends might remember a recent post which linked to Steve’s introduction to issue 24 (Winter 2012) of Arsenic Lobster–it is really something to read, and it will give you a sample of the kind of writing that distinguishes Overpass Girl.