Last week we held the fifth Feats of Poetic Strength, and it was such a beautiful day outside of Brandywine Workshop’s windows, just a gorgeous August evening.
Our beneficiary for the evening was Girls Rock Philly, a group that empowers women, girls, and non-binary individuals through music and other activities. They are a truly great organization that I believe in wholly. And the great news is that, despite a lower attendance than normal, most likely due to the wonderful weather outside, we raised $319 for their cause! This is a tremendous deal, and wouldn’t be possible without all of our donors, including major donor Franny Forsman, my good friend from grad school and fabulous patron of the arts, as well as one heck of a writer herself. Big thanks also to Larry Robin of Moonstone Arts and Brandywine Workshop for hosting us.
The one down part of the evening was that Celeste Doaks was unable to read, due to serious illness, so I sent her flowers and we all wish her a speedy recovery. I read in her place, opening the show, and while I was no Celeste, I think I did okay. Not pictured: me going “Yak Yak Yak Yak Yak”
Next was Violet LeVoit (link to her Goodreads page, which has some naughty words on it, just for those of you reading this at work!), who performed some amazing feats of tongue-twisting poetry. Her sound is super well-honed, as are the dynamics she creates between the figures in her poems. It was such a joy to hear her read!
(a note on some of the photos: depending on height, the reader may appear to be wearing a winged cap, akin to Mercury, the god of poetry, so this can feel appropriate to the occasion. It may also be funny.)
Next Cat and Noelle gave us background on Girls Rock Philly (they serve on the board), and did a great job representing the organization while a shoebox (can someone please donate a hat to me? I have collected money at these events in the oddest containers) was passed around the VERY generous crowd. (But seriously, when we were fundraising for Ysabel to go on her residency in Feats of Poetic Strength III, I passed around a crumpled paper wine bag. Only the finest).
Next was Gwendolyn Mintz, who took a bus for three days to attend the reading! I think she may have beaten Kita, who traveled from Los Angeles, but on what was, I suspect, a plane. Gwendolyn forego the mic, and read her poems about her daughter, her grandmother, quilting, what connects one person to another, one square to another, her poems, if you’ll forgive me, interwove magically.
Carrie Reilly, who had a slightly shorter journey, what with living fifteen minutes away from the reading site or so, read following Gwendolyn, and blew me away with the romanticism and beauty in their work. They only read four poems, but each evoked the bonds that connect people to each other (this was sort of the theme of the reading), whether they be romantic, or familial. The third poem they read about their mother was particularly moving, and I was so glad to hear Carrie read it.
When we got to our last reader, Lori Wilson, I was genuinely disappointed the evening was coming to a close. But Lori gave it such a great send-off! She read poems about journeys, about returning, about leaving, people, places, pausing with your hand on a gate. It was a perfect way to close a reading. Thank you alphabet for blessing us with this order!
I was excited because Lori’s daughter was able to see her mom read for the first time in five years. It felt wonderful to make that happen.
And then we closed out the reading with some group photos (disclaimer, I hate my hair in this picture, wish I were wearing a winged cap instead)
It was a great night. Next one takes place October 24th, same 7 pm, same Brandywine Workshop. See you there!