By Jennifer van Alstyne
The October 1st What Where Series featured Lisa Linn Kanae, Jai Arun Ravine, and Amina Cain.
Ella Longpre, an MFA Candidate of the Jack Kerouac School, said that Amina Cain’s work created a “thin veil over wilderness and breakdown.” This was apparent from the very start of her reading when PAC staff adjusted equipment for her “microphone dependency.” The audience laughed with her, and joined on her journey through ‘hunger text’ and the struggle we all carry: our ability as writers. The detail in Cain’s work was exquisite, especially when she spoke of both the exhausting and relaxing act of painting her ‘hunger text’ on the gallery wall in relation to performance. She spoke of her character “limping across letters” while she soared across words. “Darkness,” she said, “is never mundane.” Performance played in her reading a great deal–the reading as performance, the question of who a performance is for, why we perform, even her characters performed, the actress sitting in the middle of the stage. As such, Cain presented her life as a play (on words, on memory, and on emotion).
Jai Arun Ravine, a Naropa alum, read from their collection that reimagined their mother’s immigration to America from Thailand. Ravine was entertaining, funny, innovative. Their new subverted travel guide to tourism in Thailand was hilarious from his retelling of a girl’s Fulbright application to the recreation of The King and I. Everything became storytelling, and within that mode, truth and play-acting became intertwined.
Lisa Linn Kanae’s reading was short but powerful. She read in Pidgin from her book Sista Tongue which tells of the political and social acts that attempted to subvert HCE/HPE in the Hawaiian educational system. Then, she read a poem about her experience working in McDonalds and dealing with American tourism in Hawaii. “Remember,” she said, “this is Waikiki. We supposed to be beautiful.”
Jennifer van Alstyne is an MFA candidate and fellow at the Jack Kerouac School. She is the poetry editor of Bombay Gin. Her work has appeared in the Eunoia Review, MLM, Poetry Quarterly, The Monmouth Review, The Foundling Review, and Paper Nautilus. She is currently working on a collection about Hurricane Sandy and Asbury Park, NJ.