By Jennifer van Alstyne
Three completely different readers graced the PAC stage on Tuesday evening, September 16: Tina Brown Celona, Bin Ramke, and Miranda Mellis. All were poets, and all brought new perspectives on craft and subject to the Naropa stage. It was a great opening to the 2014 What Where Series which also coincides with Naropa University’s 40th Anniversary.
Tina Brown Celona’s feminist poetry, also a graduate of Denver University’s Doctorate program in Creative Writing, was a nice segway from Sara Veghlan’s prose, from the inaugural Bombay Gin 2014 reading series at Innisfree, and SWP 2014 faculty member Dodie Bellamy. Her reading of “Sunday Morning Cunt Poem” tended to use the same revision of the pejorative term to achieve it as an ownership, or a reclaiming by the other sex as Bellamy and Acker did before her in a time when Women’s issues in the workplace and at home have been prevalent in national media. The blend of personal, the revisioning of the love poem, and stark language, allowed for suspension of reality through writing: “With the cunt poems I could have orgasms during sex. I had long, luxurious hair, which I wrapped around my throat like a scarf. You could say I was ‘released from my prison.’ My therapist was no longer busy.”
Bin Ramke took us to a realm between mathematics, physics, and etymology–the trisected angle present along with tales of time, space, and personal life. Ramke’s moonscapes tie in closely with his interview with our own assistant professor, J’lyn Chapman, which was published in audio form on The Conversant and in text in the latest issue of Something On Paper. He read from his latest collection, Missing the Moon (Omnidawn, 2014). Ramke’s poem, “After Audubon” on the naming of birds, states, “To be named for the sound you make, Poet, / without intent, without meaning.” This precision with etymology and semantics creates meaning in not only each line, but each word on the page.
Miranda Mellis, the author of The Revisionist, The Spokes, None of This Is Real, The Quarry, and Materialisms, read from an imagined book review, which brought a new perspective of contemplative poetics via a review that fights political injustice and comments on socioeconomics in a world which she has both created and critiqued. It was lovely to have a Naropa alumna return to campus to read and teach a lecture earlier in the day to the MFA program’s Writers in Community course, for which the students read one of her books. Her latest chapbook, The Quarry, is out from Traffiker Press.
Overall, it was a wonderful reading to open the What Where Series, the next installment of which is on September 30, 2014 in the Performing Arts Center (PAC) and will feature Rachel Levitsky, Kurt Gutjahr, and Janice Gould.
For a listing of our other JKS 40th Anniversary Events, please click here.
Jennifer van Alstyne has been published in the Eunoia Review, Crack the Spine, Midwest Literary Magazine, The Monmouth Review, The Foundling Review, Paper Nautilus, Poetry Quarterly, and Whiskey Traveler. Her collection, Scansioned Music: A Glenn Gould Collection, was published in Crossroads 2013 for which she was the winner of the Jane Freed Grant. She is currently an Associate Editor for Something On Paper and Book Reviews Editor for Bombay Gin.