By Taylor Estape
Thursday, April 25th marked the 9th Annual Women of Naropa Reading, a night dedicated to performances by women of the Jack Kerouac School community.
As people settled into their seats, music began and Lark Fox, the curator of the event, read while dancer Ixeeya Beacher performed. Music seemed to emerge as an unintended theme of the night, as shortly after June Lucarotti and April Joseph sang a refrain alongside their poetry. Anne Waldman powerfully performed her song “Prisons of Egypt” in the middle of the first half of the night, and Elyse Brownell and Tiara Lopez started the second half by dancing up to and away from the stage – to dub step, it should be noted. Lisa Birman’s excerpt from her latest novel focused on a little girl’s feeling of kinship with Ludwig van Beethoven. Subtler instances of sound seemed to wax musical, as when Ariella Ruth held her iPhone up to the microphone to play what sounded like a plane taking off; or when Elizabeth Sparenberg read, “If you can’t find these ingredients, sing.” Even Jade Lascelles’ performance, reading as she pulled a seemingly never-ending spool of red yarn from her hair, sticks in my mind as strangely musical.
Of course, we could also claim the night dedicated itself to one of Lark’s opening lines: “We arrive with desire.” Elyse and Tiara’s and HR Hegnauer’s performances seemed to echo with the ghosts of intimates. Erin Likins’ opening, with the repetition of “talk to me,” was almost ferociously demanding and tender at once. It might be easy to say these all amounted to some sort of incantation–an evocation of the sacred feminine (whatever that means), but in reality when the women on stage sang, yelled, spoke, or danced, the only thing that was evident was the unquantifiable nature of woman-ness.
One of my favorite moments of the night was during Andrea Rexilius’ performance. She followed Anne Waldman saying, “I asked Anne to tone it down since I would be going on after her.” Andrea gave a straight-forward reading, but when she came to her final line: “There is no need for a voice when there is an animal between your legs,” the whole room lit up with “oohs” and “aahs” in a way that it wouldn’t for the rest of the night.
Taylor Estape is originally from Miami, FL and recently graduated from the Jack Kerouac School’s BA Writing and Literature program. She is currently preoccupied with a manuscript about floods, a general state of confusion and terror, and finding different ways to eat all forms of pork. She has no idea what will happen next.