Adrienne Rich

Other People’s Poetry (OPP) Presents
The Poetry of Adrienne Rich
The Dream of a Common Language (1978)

Sunday, March 26 2017
Deep Vellum Books
3000 Commerce Street
Dallas, TX 75226

About Adrienne Rich & The Dream of a Common Language | Poems & Readers | About the Readers | About OPP

Adrienne Rich (1929 – 2012)

Perhaps more than any other American poet of her generation, Adrienne Rich’s art was inextricable from her commitments. As she herself wrote upon the appearance of her 1969 collection Leaflets: “For a poet… there is this primary labor with words. But I have the notion that how you live your life has something to do with it—that morality, for a poet, is a refusal of blinders, of traditional consolations, a courage to be alone, or wounded…” The Dream of a Common Language, published a decade later, finds Rich risking a great deal in order to test her commitment to the then-revolutionary, now-canonical notion that “the personal is the political.” Rich had never written as unambiguously about her sexuality as she does in the “Twenty-One Love Poems” that constitute the collection’s center of gravity. Moreover, the frequently expansive, multi-section works that frame those expressions of longing (dedicated to Rich’s partner Michelle Cliff) reject conventional notions of lyrical well-formedness. Lines sprawl or interrupt themselves with unpunctuated white space. Images are sparse; when and where they do make their presence felt, they are obdurate, visceral rather than comfortably sensual. These poems assert, affirm, argue, question, confess, renounce, contradict, temporize, and then question all over again. Here, Rich embraces the rhetorical necessity of a poetry of becoming. In 1972, Rich wrote that her poetry was more and more a poetry of “re-vision—the act of looking back, of seeing with fresh eyes, of entering an old text from a new critical direction” and identified this aesthetic as “an act of survival.” In documenting the emergence of her own queer feminist consciousness, Rich reconsiders woundedness, and discovers in it a capacity to make meaning out of historic meaninglessness. “I am choosing / not to suffer uselessly,” Rich proclaims in “Splittings.” The Dream of a Common Language demonstrates why Rich’s voice remains as compelling (and thrilling) as that of any living author’s.

Poems & Readers

I. Power
Power (Logen Cure)
Phantasia for Elvira Shatayev (Gayle Reaves-King)
Origins and History of Consciousness (Robin Turner)
Splittings (Fran Carris)
Hunger (V. P. Crowe)
To a Poet (Bess Whitby)
Cartographies of Silence (Leah Teiger)
The Lioness (Roberto Munguia)

II. Twenty-One Love Poems
I (Bear the Poet)
II (Andrea Luttrell)
III (Joe Milazzo)
IV (Connor Stratman)
V (Amanda Mitchell)
VI (Fran Carris)
VII (Margaret Allyson)
VIII (Jean Lamberty)
IX (Logen Cure)
X (Megan Giesecke)
XI (Desmene Statum)
XII (Robin Turner)
XIII (Roberto Munguia)
XIV (Bess Whitby)
[The Floating Poem, Unnumbered] (V. P. Crowe)
XV (Brenda Gaba)
XVI (Leah Teiger)
XVII (Logen Cure)
XVIII (Andrea Luttrell)
XIX (A. Kendra Greene)
XX (Megan Giesecke)
XXI (Bear the Poet)

III. Not Somewhere Else, But Here
Not Somewhere Else, But Here (Amanda Mitchell)
Upper Broadway (Margaret Allyson)
Paula Becker to Carla Westhoff (Connor Stratman)
Nights and Days (Brenda Gaba)
Sibling Mysteries (A. Kendra Greene)
A Woman Dead in Her Forties (Desmene Statum)
Mother-Right (Robin Turner)
Natural Resources (Joe Milazzo)
Toward the Solstice (Jean Lamberty)
Transcendental Etude (Gayle Reaves-King)

About the Readers

Margaret Allyson found her true calling in the publishing business, working as a writer, editor, and indexer. To enhance her well-being, she also writes poems and songs, makes art in various media, and wanders happily in the garden. Margaret is lots of fun and does not take herself too seriously.

Fran Carris is a visual/video and performance artist, poet, and professional voice talent. She has performed in many poetry-based groups including Question Authority, The Dancing Tongue and The Angry Girl Sextet. Her poetry has been published in Sojourn, and recently in Illya’s Honey and the anthology Cattlemen & Cadillacs: Poets of the Dallas-Ft. Worth Metroplex. She is currently voicing short story podcasts for Far Fetched Fables.

V. P. Crowe has been puttering around the Dallas poetry scene off and on since it was pretty much confined to one wee strip of Elm Street. Her work has appeared in Illya’s Honey, the Red River Review, Electron Press, the Texas Poetry Calendar, and an anthology or three. She lives in the suburbs with a mad scientist and a houseful of fur.

Logen Cure is the author of three poetry chapbooks: Still, Letters to Petrarch, and In Keeping. Her work also appears in Word Riot, Radar Poetry, The Boiler, and elsewhere. She’s an editor for Voicemail Poems. She lives in DFW with her wife. Learn more at www.logencure.com.

Brenda Gaba is a poet and essayist who has published in The Texas Observer and the literary journal Amarillo Bay. A fifth- generation Texan, she lives as liberal a life as possible in Dallas, Texas.

Megan Giesecke has been a poet since age 8, when she developed a huge crush on the boy with glasses and poured over every rhyme in the box of Valentines before painstakingly selecting “his.” The same year, she discovered Shel Silverstein’s Falling Up, published her first perfectly-rhyming poem about winter weather, and became a two-time speech meet gold medalist in poetry performance. More recently, she has worked in the Middle East, studied the use of improv theatre in transforming conflict, and developed expertise in an obscure translation software. Undeterred by her early peak, Megan still writes and performs poetry in her spare time and adores reading fiction aloud with people she loves.

A. Kendra Greene began her museum career adhering text to the wall: one vinyl letter at a time. The University of Iowa gave her an MFA in Nonfiction and the opportunity to costume a giant ground sloth in its Museum of Natural History. She’s been a Fulbright Grantee and a Jacob K. Javits Fellow, and most recently Visiting Artist at the Dallas Museum of Art’s Center for Creative Connections. She is the author of Anatomy of a Museum: Or Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About the Icelandic Phallological Museum, But Were Afraid To Ask (2015), The Stone Collector (2016), and Vagrants and Uncommon Visitors (forthcoming June 2017), all published by Anomalous Press.

Jean Lamberty is originally from Chicago, and lived in metropolitan New York before moving to Dallas. She has taught English, ESL creative writing, and poetry. Her poems have appeared in Third Wednesday, Illya’s Honey, Sentence, The Texas Observer, and other small journals.

Andrea Luttrell received her MFA in fiction from NYU, where she served as co-editor-in-chief for Washington Square. She has been awarded a Tin House fellowship to attend the Summer Literary Seminars in Russia and recently received a SAFTA residency fellowship through Sundress Publications. Her work has been published in Painted Bride Quarterly, S/tick, Stirring, Tinderbox, and Mead.

Joe Milazzo is the founder and artistic director of Other People’s Poetry (OPP). He is the author of the novel Crepuscule W/ Nellie and The Habiliments, a volume of poetry. You can learn more about his activities—literary as well as extra-literary—by visiting www.joe-milazzo.com.

Amanda Mitchell is a recent graduate of the MFA program at the University of South Carolina, prior to which she studied English and Creative Writing at Hollins University. She reads poetry for Oxidant|Engine. Her work is forthcoming or has appeared in Bone Bouquet, Third Coast, Tupelo Quarterly, and The Journal, among others.

Roberto Munguiahas been exhibiting and performing for the past 43 years in Texas, the U.S., and abroad. His works range in media: oil, acrylic, gouache, encaustic, casein painting, printmaking, drawing, ceramic sculpture, graphic design, collage, urban design, and mixed media. Besides this, he is a published poet and storyteller, most recently in the audio anthology Pink Drum. His art is an exploration of the intuitive nature of the creative process, and its ability to reveal and transform.

Gayle Reaves-King is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist based in Fort Worth. In addition to freelance reporting and editing, she teaches journalism at the University of North Texas and is working with co-authors on a nonfiction book called Dividing the Baby. Her poetry chapbook Spectral Analysis was published in 2015 by the Dallas Poets Community. Her recent freelance work has appeared in The Texas Observer and American Way magazine. She is a former national president of the Journalism and Women Symposium and part of the brain trust at the Pandora’s Box Poetry Showcase in Dallas.

James Barrett Rodehaver, also known as Bear the Poet, is a happily married 33-year old bisexual poet, editor, and author living with his husband in Dallas, Texas. A native of Alabama, James has written poetry since he was seven years old, and it keeps him alive during the hard times. He’s the author of a book of poetry called Strangely Wonderful, and the co-creator and editor of Not Dead Yet: An Anthology of Survivor Poetry, both published by Penhall Publishing.

Desmene Statum moved to Dallas from Alabama in 1999. She attended the Art Institute of Dallas and studied interactive design. Her mentors exposed her to some of the most prolific poetry, and she fell in love with the works of Ginsburg, Kerouac, Rumi, Bukowski, Rilke and Paz. She has two chapbooks of poetry: Coagulation, and Two Fisted Whiskey Love Songs. She shares her poetry on MadSwirl.com and in their print edition: The Blue Note Issue. Her poem, “Sometimes a Bullet Looks Pretty Good,” was published in Not Dead Yet: An Anthology of Survivor Poetry. She has participated in numerous events with The Writer’s Garret, ArtLoveMagic and WordSpace. She likes to collaborate with writers and favors freestyle poetry duets with friends.

Connor Stratman is a poet living in Dallas, TX. His books and chapbooks include An Early Scratch (Erbacce, 2010), Some Were Awake (Plumberries, 2011) and Volcano (Writing Knights, 2011). His work has been featured in many journals, including Moria, Otoliths, Polari, and Moss Trill. He is pursuing a Ph.D. in English at the University of Texas at Arlington.

Leah Teiger is a MA candidate at the University of North Texas, as well as co-founder and host of WordSpace’s Looped readings in Dallas. She was a finalist for the 2016 Raynes Poetry Prize and (thanks to Menacing Hedge!) a 2017 Pushcart prize nominee. Her work appears in Entropy, Rattle, Gravel, and Voicemail Poems, and her chapbook, We and She, You and Then, You Again, is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press this spring.

Robin Turner is the author of the chapbook bindweed & crow poison: small poems of stray girls, fierce women (Porkbelly Press), available at Deep Vellum Books. A “Best of the Net” and Pushcart Prize nominee, her work has appeared in numerous journals, anthologies, and public poetry projects. She lives, works, and daydreams in East Dallas.

Bess Whitby is a writer and cellist living in Denton, Texas. For nearly five years she has performed and assisted with Denton-based Spiderweb Salon. Bess holds a MA in creative writing from the University of North Texas and works as the marketing manager for the UNT Press. She has been playing cello for one year and writing ever since she could.

About OPP

Other People’s Poetry (OPP) is a new repertory poetry reading series. One poet, one book of great poetry per event.

OPP’s mission: To develop an audience for poetry. To provide opportunities for audiences to interact with poetry that has otherwise fallen out of the oral tradition (because the originating poets are no longer alive to present the work themselves). To broaden notions of canon. To recognize the important work done by our poetic predecessors. To increase the diversity of literary programming in DFW (Dallas-Fort Worth), in part, by creating more opportunities for DFW’s discrete poetic communities to intersect and collaborate.

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Special thanks to Will Evans, Anne Hollander, Rebecca Thompson, Tanya Wardell, Deep Vellum Books & WordSpace for sponsoring this event.