There's something about this time of year, the swift switch from sweltering in bed to that collar tuggingly cold that is autumn, that makes sitting in one of the sweetest bookstores on the planet (we believe gnomes must live in the floorboards, truly) an incredibly cozy event. Top that with two of my favorite people, white holiday lights, the color of pumpkins, a stack of new books, and listening to two mind blowing poets read and with their own unique styles--it was a good night, a good end to a long day on campus.
I was first introduced to Kate Greenstreet's work via her first book interviews blog. Only tonight have I read one of her books, the now out-of-print chapbook Learning the Language, and I also picked up a copy of her first book case sensitive.
Her reading style was remarkable--she's so tiny and so quiet, the microphone needs to huddle up next to her, and the creaking of the music stand sounded like the creak of stairs late at night, only adding to that cozy ambiance I wish I could bottle up and return to when I need that happy-heart feeling.
Eric Lorberer introduced the second reader, Norma Cole, by talking about the blessing poetry has in small audiences (a sentiment with excellent timing for me as I spend my Monday evenings in memoir class being reminded that no one reads poetry, something I certainly struggle with as do all / most writers of poetry) because it "feels as if she is writing just for you." He was speaking of Cole, but I think this also wholly applies to Greenstreet's relationship with her audience; she read the poems as if they were a conversation and she knew we were speaking back, even if it wasn't out loud.
Norma Cole is both a poet and a translator, a combination which I've always admired, and she came to us with a selected works spanning 1988 to 2008, an amount of time I cannot imagine what might do to my own work. She had a stroke, which has affected her speech and stance, but not the power of her words.
Cole online: This poem reminds me a bit of the stairway installation at The Loft, and you can read some commentary over on Lemon Hound.
Here is a video of her reading. The sound is not wonderful, but you can get an idea of her work:
"Gambler's Conceit" [by Kirsten Chen]
11 hours ago