Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Review of Last Night's Genesee Reading Series at Writers & Books

A busy day yesterday,which ended perfectly at The Genesee Reading Series. So fortunate to find time in my schedule to go and listen to local poets and writers that I admire. Last night, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Able to put aside all the voices of the day and settle into their voices-- Cathryn Smith's lyrical prose, which is her current work-in-project, finding Jezebel, her family's sailboat that was lost/sold/given up in early 70's. This work connects to her first memoir The Glory Walk, which is a poignant story (multi-layered narrative) about her father and his life as it's slowly trapped by Alzheimer's. It's a complex book and if you haven't read it, you should.

This new collection of essays, dreamscapes, lyrical collages seem to be "raising" her father's life
in the pursuit of re-discovery the boat. It's a ghost ship, with the ability to travel, blurring
boundaries of what's real(memory) and dream. We heard a decent "chunk" of this work-in-progress and there's much to be admired in her narrative style.

Cathryn ( I call her Cathy, but she's Cathryn too) has always had remarkable, elegant carriage-- a way of drawing you into her hour with you. You feel like you're the only one hearing her words; and consequently, you listen intently. It's like this: "Listen, I have something to tell you. . ." and you lean in closer.

Tony Leuzzi was equally engaging. He has a wonderful reading voice. He read from his newest collection Fake Book, which will be released shortly. (He is going to be reading at St. John Fisher on February 2nd, so you'll have another opportunity to see/hear him and buy this terrific collection. Fake Book is set in three parts and its a book that rifts off of American Music 20's-40's, but is more than that because it's one part fictional and another part autobiographical, and another part both fictional and autobiographical, blurring the lines by creating prose poems
that just knocked me out. Tony is so gifted-- the musicality of his work is enough; and more, he gives his readers/listeners a story that is sometimes poignant, sometimes wickedly witty, often ironic.

I loved the Q&A at the end. It was a gracious opportunity to listen to them explain their process which, in many ways, is what we all want to hear. I took it as encouragement.

All of us, in the quiet of our rooms, writing . . . What a gift it is to have these opportunities to escape our rooms and enter the rooms of others.

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