On Tuesday, April 5, we held the last event in our 2011 Commonwealth Reading Series, and Regie O’Hare Gibson, David Lovelace, Tova Mirvis, Leslie Williams, and Lara JK Wilson proffered poetry and prose to the delight and invigoration of the assembled Newtonville Books audience.
Working at the Mass. Cultural Council has many terrific aspects, but getting to do events like the five readings of the Commonwealth Reading Series is truly one of the tippity top. As I said in introductory remarks before each event, we’ve seen, of late, a lot of rhetoric on the federal level about slashing arts funding. But I can think of no clearer, more compelling argument for continued support of individual artists in Massachusetts than the excellence of the work shared by 2010 Fellows/Finalists in Fiction/Creative Nonfiction and Poetry, during this series.
Here, in no particular order, are some of my personal favorite moments from the readings:
- Julia Story thanking the audience for laughing at the comedy in her work – and not responding with what she calls “poetry silence”
- Jung Yun’s deftness and self-assurance reading her fiction aloud – a great skill!
- Ron Spalletta explaining how a poem has to work hard to justify its use of the word “heart”
- Kathryn Kulpa – who drove more than an hour in a surprise March snowstorm to get to the reading – delighting the crowd with idiosyncratic flash fiction
- Jendi Reiter reading her wonderful-in-so-many-ways poem “Bullies in Love” and explaining how it was inspired by the show “Glee” (see her read the poem in the Youtube clip below)
- Jessica Bozek, John Canaday, and Anna Ross all sharing poems that, though written before the earthquake devastation in Japan, mirrored it in poignant ways
- Kathryn Burak’s supremely entertaining fiction about a harrowing moment at the Emily Dickinson Museum, from her forthcoming novel The Dress
- Finally: the Regie O’Hare Gibson experience. If you love poetry, or even like it, or even think for some reason that you do not and need to be convinced, do yourself a favor and catch a live reading by Regie. He is a spoken word rock star.
Images and Media: Regie O’Hare Gibson at Newtonville Books; Jung Yun at Forbes Library; Julia Story at Porter Square Books.