April 30, 2015

Frequency North, April 23

This was the second of the day’s “Standish Room readings,” this one in the Standish Room located on the 2nd floor of the College of St. Rose’s Events & Athletics Center, as part of the College’s ongoing reading series, Frequency North, coordinated & hosted by Prof. Daniel Nester.

Tonight’s reader was Stevie Edwards.  She gave us ample selections from both of her books, Good Grief (Write Bloody 2012) & Humanly (forthcoming from Small Doggies Press), beginning with poems from Good Grief. These poems introduced her to us as Michigan working class, for example “2 Trailer Park Girls Go Around the Outside,” “For an Uncle I Know Only Through Letters & Collect Calls” (because he is serving a life sentence in prison), “The Hippy Church I Was Raised In Doesn’t Believe in Sin.” Apparently she had read earlier to classes here & she read by request, a poem with advice on love, “3 Rachels.”

Moving on to Humanly, she said she was doing “weird ones,” among which were a series of poems about being in a mental hospital, including “Stepping Inside of November,” “What Was the Most Delicate Thing About the Psyche Ward,” & the poem that probably got her the gig here (Google “sestina Nester”) the sestina “In a Psyche Ward.” Her poems followed an arc from the psyche ward to the struggles after (e.g., “Waiting at the Temp Agency”), to, as she said, “the happy stuff at the end of the book,” a poem about going shirtless in a biker bar “Fabulousness,” a short love poem “Offering,” & another Rachel poem “Spell for Rachel’s 80th Birthday.”

This was a relaxed, unpretentious reading of poems that most folks could understand, if not relate to, even if you were not an academic or a student in the MFA program. Frequency North, like the Writers Institute, offers an opportunity for the community-at-large here in Albany to hear & meet established & up-&-coming writers of poetry & prose in relaxed settings, for free — such readings in New York City at venues such as the YMHA would cost $12 to $18. It beats tuition.

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