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Incident: A Recap!

2014 August 6
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Thanks to all who came to Incident: A Reading at Rosalux Gallery!



The evening was full of good vibes, fantastic readers, mesmerizing art, and a ridiculously fun collaborative poem. The first version below is the original, and the second version is backwards, for fun. We like it both ways, actually!



A huge thanks to Rebecca Krinke and Duane Ditty for inviting us into their exhibition for this reading, and to our beloved readers: Opal C. McCarthy, Timothy Otte, and Brett Elizabeth Jenkins. Thanks also to Jessica Mayer for the photos below, and to all Hazel & Wren staff for being amazing, as usual.



What We’re Reading: SURGE: An Oral Poetics

2014 July 24
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What We're ReadingsurgeSURGE: An Oral Poetics by Opal C. McCarthy (Eohippus Labs, 2012)

Reading this lyric essay is an explorative dive journey. We join McCarthy as she explores sexuality, self, and the roots and sounds of language. The dictionary is a supporting character throughout, offering a framework from which McCarthy jumps into her oral exploration. This playfulness of language seeps into every line, and it’s apparent early on why the essay was named “An Oral Poetics”:

I’m still an oral character. I taste surge like lapping up hot milk. my tongue lolling the urrrge luridly, dripping form the roof of my mouthcave. My mouth is a chamber of resonance, or is it reactivity?

The pleasure in language is paired with her explorative tone to lighten the heavier content: slaughterhouses, blowjobs, a nuclear leak in Middletown, PA are all topics throughout the essay. This is an informed essay—there are footnotes to other texts throughout, and we see familiar faces in the poets mentioned such as C.D. Wright, Louise Glück, and Emily Dickinson. McCarthy writes also of Cinderella, popsicles, and preschool, but these innocent-seeming moments are rife with dark undertones, as we see in this passage about Cinderella’s slipper:

A vair slipper. This is footwear for a virgin, made from coats of squirrels with grey backs and white bellies. In the original Cinderella, the prince fitted her with a vair slipper, not glass. If I wake up in the mirrored morning and see their girl, the only choice left to me is what I put my foot in today: shard or squirrel? I choose my mouth.

As you can see, her playfulness also comes from turning a phrase on it’s head, and mixing up well-known adages and stories: Cinderella’s slipper, putting her foot in her mouth. These stereotypical cultural stories are revealed for the complex and flawed story lines that they are. These moments of poetic surprise keep the reader tumbling through the essay greedily, enjoying the romp.

While labeled an essay, SURGE feels more like a long prose poem. It also includes interjecting sections in smaller, italic font that act as mini poems within the larger prose piece. The section about the nuclear reactor failure in Middletown, PA, is a bit abrupt; however, McCarthy warns us of this right away, starting that section off with, “Abruptly, I confess—” The section reads more like a nonfiction essay instead of a lyric essay, which works because it juxtaposes the harsh facts of this leak that was never admitted to, but clearly affected those living in the surrounding areas.

The ending comes sooner than you’d like, as a strong, forceful wave of an ending. Here’s the beginning sentence of the last paragraph:

My girl of desire, my blazing hungry unfinished girl wants a poetry that bleeds into the ground, poems that seep into anyplace you are porous and make you twitch and ache and heave.

This poetry does just that: seeps in, and leaves you heaving and aching. It’s poetry that stays with you in your bones, tickling at those pre-conceived cultural notions as you go throughout your day.

Luckily for anyone in the Twin Cities area, you can hear Opal read along with Brett Elizabeth Jenkins, and our very own Timothy Otte TONIGHT!  Join us for Incident: A Reading at 7:00 pm at Rosalux Gallery in Northeast Minneapolis.

Do you think the line between lyric essays and long prose poems is blurry, or definite? What other writers flip fairytales or stereotypes on their head?