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Sunday, August 11, 2013

Sunday Reading: Spare Room at Blackfish Gallery

Posted by Thomas Ross on Sun, Aug 11, 2013 at 4:05 PM

They said it was going to be sunny and 91 degrees out today. So far, that seems to be a lie. Regardless, whether the sun comes up or doesn't, Sunday is still a good day for reading, or attending a reading. The folks at Spare Room agree, and are hosting a reading tonight at Blackfish Gallery, 7:30pm.

Poets Jennifer Firestone and Lisa Fink will read and I imagine discuss some fine points of poetry. The Spare Room readings are always lively, discussion-driven, and just plain smart. Firestone teaches at The New School in NYC, and her poetry is intensely focused. Every word in every line in her book Flashes seems to hold the weight of the entire poem on its back, all imagery and idea bearing down on each word. Here's a line indicative of that power:

Opalescent moon barely detected though at least this far downtown you
do see sky we all note this with pride as if this is the prize.

Fink's poetry is similarly wordy, but where Firestone's poetry describes the city she inhabits, Fink's is more often found in mud and dirt and dust. Her poems run in fields and crouch in barns, show dirt and blood, old stains, and new scars. Here are a few lines from "Match Girls" in PANK Magazine:

Inside crouched on haunches two small girls intent
on burning
back bowed ribs & shoulder
blades & spines under thin summer t-shirts
or tank tops tinged with shit & sun-sweat
barefoot or in barn shoes,
knots knit so tight

Fink's poetry is gorgeous, cutting, clear-eyed and -aired. Her intensity and illumination are jarring and riveting, and breathless in that you don't know you've been holding your breath until she makes a playful choice in diction and you gulp a gasp of air. Take for instance this stanza from "Her Disco": "Go, worm; go, mantis, / up leaf-spire up / in your upsy way."

It's Sunday, the sun's winning a fight for a spot in the sky, and all you have to do is sit back and let these poets read to you. It's a good day.

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