On Valentine’s Day, seeing as I had no plans, I decided to go to my first poetry reading. Hosted by Brookline Booksmith and organized by Black Ocean Press, the Bash Reading Series featured Janaka Stucky, Gillian Devereux, and J. Hope Stein.
The emcee for the night was Janaka Stucky, founder of Black Ocean Press, who introduced himself as the first poet to be reading. To stay in the spirit of Valentine’s day, he began by sharing love poems about dead authors, followed by poems about sex, lust, and love from his published chapbook The World Will Deny It For You. Janaka read with a mellow tone, pausing at moments to allow for words to settle in before continuing. As he finished, he reminded the audience that he was providing free hugs with no strings attached and introduced the next poet, Gillian Devereux.
Gillian, author of They Used to Dance on Saturday Nights, shared a variety of poems ranging from Taylor Swift to the apocalypse. Unlike Janaka’s readings, Gillian’s poems were much more upbeat in the way she read them. Her inflection to certain words or phrases, especially in her poems on Taylor Swift, highlighted the whimsical theme of love, which is, of course, what Taylor Swift usually sings about.. Her voice smiled and questioned when her poems called for, and made for an interesting contrast from Janaka’s poems. Nevertheless, she kept to the theme started by Janaka, yet also added her own twist to it. When Gillian finished, Janaka came up once again and introduced the final poet, J. Hope Stein.
J. Hope Stein began by sharing a personal story that inspired a poem from her chapbook Corner Office. Laughing throughout the reading of the poem, she changed the atmosphere of the room once again through a different tone to reading poems. She read poems of the same theme, but varied in the way each poem was read. Some poems were read with a more mellow tone, like Janaka, while others a bit like Gillian. However, she added her own personal traits to make the poems her own, which made her reading just as different as the other two poets.
By the end of the event, I was glad I had finally decided to attend a poetry reading. Although I had been to a few coffee houses and readings in high school, they had been much different from those. The most interesting aspect was hearing the different ways each poet read his or her work. The attitude and tone of each poet’s reading helped me imagine the poem in a different way (one which I probably would not have gotten if I had read them on my own). The personality of each poet could be heard in the poems they chose to read, as well as in the reading itself. All three poets changed the atmosphere of the room, but it always felt casual, fun, and relaxing.
If you wish to attend the next Bash Reading Series, it will be held at the same place on March 14, 2014 at 7:00pm, or check out Brookline Booksmith’s website here.