Poetry reading at the Runcible Spoon tonight, featuring local poets Jen Derosa, Sara Jane Stoner (third-year IU MFA student), Jacqueline Jones LaMon (second-year IU MFA student), and Alyce Miller (IU MFA fiction faculty) followed by an open-mic. It was billed as a "women's history month" reading, and the idea was that open-mic readers would be reading work by women, but that didn't quite happen -- a couple of men got up and read poems by women, which was fine, but then several men got up and read their own stuff, seemingly oblivious to the general theme of the evening. In fairness to them, I'm not 100% certain it was made clear that the open-mic was supposed to be an extension, thematically, of the main reading; if it had been "a reading featuring four poets from the MFA program followed by an open-mic" I don't think anyone, myself included, would have assumed the open-mic was only supposed to be MFA poets or work by them. It was pretty clear in this morning's newspaper article that the open-mic was for work by women, but people may not have read that. And for those of us who've been a part of the feminist movement, and who "get" that a Women's History Month reading would, well, be expected to feature the work of women, it was pretty clear. But apparently not everyone got the memo. A couple of people got pretty pissed-off about this.
That issue aside, it was a nice little reading; the room was full (although Alyce Miller left immediately after finishing her part of the reading, not sticking around to hear anyone else -- hopefully she had somewhere she needed to be and wasn't just being rude), and I enjoyed the featured readers and some of the open-mic. These readings happen every fourth Friday at the Runcible Spoon, and it's one of the few venues that often draws both community folks & MFA-ers. There is generally a pretty big brick wall between the MFA program and local non-MFA or non-IU-affiliated writers, as evidenced by the fact that when big-name poets come to read, like Molly Peacock a year or two ago, it's barely publicized at all outside the confines of the English department (and to be fair, few non-IU folks make the effort to find out about or attend MFA-program-sponsored events). I have a big beef with this, as I believe pretty strongly that good writing can be found both within and outside of MFA programs & that each of those factions can learn something from the other. I think there is more town/gown interaction now than there used to be a few years ago, though.
Anyway, I read 2 poems in the open-mic, both new ones that I'm still working on. As I was reading them I could hear where the energy dropped, places where I need to revise. Here's one of the two (comments are welcome):
The Barren Woman
[poem deleted 04-06-2005; comment here if you missed it & would like to see it]