A Fine Night for the Living
The podium of the KGB Bar was graced with the presence of two audacious poetesses last night, Sally Ashton and Nin Andrews. Happy synergies between poets marked the evening in the form of prose poem play, persona pieces, and bursts of laughter from the crowd. Both are often funny, yes, but always with some bite.
Ashton took us on her search for the real Sally Ashton, asking what’s in a name in so many ways. She introduced us to the myriad doppleganger Sally Ashtons of the internet, and pondered what a person is, exactly, on the Web. Technology surfaced subtly throughout her work, text messages following rapture, Confederate hoopskirts rubbing up against gas stations.
Having risked a student riot by refusing to deliver an orgasm (poem) at a recent reading, Andrews played it, er, safe this time, regaling us with the climactic Yes (in the voice of a kind of orgasm maven), as well as detailing the troubles of having a talking pussy, in a decidedly female tribute to the surreal and sexy boldness of Henri Michaux. With poems from Dear Professor, Do You Live in a Vacuum she gleefully took us to the absurd and metaphysical place the language of physics seems to long for.
We were also treated to a first taste of books-to-be. A lyric "I" circles and returns to the enigma of a haunting donkey’s voice in Ashton’s prose poem series, Her Name is Juanita (forthcoming from Kore Press). Andrews’ voice blossomed with a Southern twang in poems recalling the power of superstition and Catholic school health class, soon to appear in the collection Southern Comfort (from CavanKerry Press).
There was an eerie micro moment when Andrews described her father’s belief that every twenty minutes, we trade places with the dead (those moments when a group goes suddenly silent). The trade is necessary so the dead will be familiar when we meet them. The giggling crowd had just gone suddenly silent a moment earlier... If we did indeed trade places with the dead, it made the return to the living all the better, with a drink to follow in the red room and something warm and close in the air, made of words.
-- Megin Jimenez