Another great reading at Woman Made Gallery this afternoon. Nina Corwin has done another fabulous job of matching poetry and art. The current art exhibit is called Family Album. Two of my favorite art pieces were: Stephanie Booth’s Spinster, which used photos of her as a bridesmaid transferred onto cloth and highlighted with embroidery; and Kitty Hubbard’s Family Portrait, Repaired, which I will let you look at – the artist’s explanation is much clearer than I could rewrite here.
The reading was co-curated by Toni Asante Lightfoot, who chose three poets from Young Chicago Authors, and Shelley Nation-Watson, who chose me, Christine Foisy from Toronto, and Gregg Shapiro from Chicago as the other featured readers. The afternoon was full of family drama, laughter, and pathos. The young Chicago authors were amazing – Kush Thompson, one of the young authors, moved from a humorous yet loving dig at her younger brother (who smiled through the whole thing in the audience) to tender memories of an ex-boyfriend lost to gang violence. Rachel Jackson, a freshman at DePaul University, is a voice to be reckoned with – she turned childhood memories about Power Rangers into a devastating indictment of racism and complacency in our culture. Will Gruzca started with humor, reminded us of a mother’s power in his poem about God’s word, and then switched gears to share a searing poem about his parents’ conflicts – with them in the room. A brave poet.
The adults were a delight as well. Shelley Nation-Watson started with some stories that took us back to her tumultuous childhood in Tulsa; Gregg Shapiro took us on family road trips and into the dynamics of napping with two dogs; Toni Asante Lightfoot gave us a piece of her own childhood, sneaking to listen to the grown-ups and then a proud and funny moment as a mother with her own daughter. I shared some work from my upcoming chapbook dealing with infertility and then motherhood.