Last night at Kensington Row Bookshop in Kensington, Md., near Antiques Row, the main floor was packed in tight as audience members awaited the reading scheduled for 7 p.m. with local author and The Writer’s Center instructor Michele Wolf and Suffolk University Poetry Center Director Fred Marchant. Chairs were brought out to accommodate latecomers as all the chairs were already filled in front of the podium, and there was standing room only by the front door and in the back as the reading began.
Wolf began the reading, alternating between her latest release Immersion and Conversations During Sleep. Her poems spoke of “healing dirt,” adopting Chinese babies, the beauty of family and Jamaica. She read the poem from which the title of her new collection comes, which is about the adoption of a Chinese baby and learning how to be a parent and the struggle with learning a new language, among other things. Here’s a video.
There were moments in the reading when the audience honed in on certain images or words, and even Fred Marchant mentioned that he would begin his reading based on a word he heard Wolf read earlier on. Marchant read from his Word Works Washington Prize winning collection Tipping Point, as well as The Looking House and some new and unpublished poems he’s been working on.
One of the only drawbacks to the reading was the close proximity to the railroad tracks and the rumbling and whistles of the CSX and MARC trains that were louder as the door was left ajar. These distractions tended to drown out the readers, particularly for those closest to the door.
Following the reading, some audience members stood up to share one of their own poems in an open mic format. Some of the poems were read very dramatically, while others had a more quiet power and ranged in subject from international adoption to sorcery and a re-imagining of the Conference of the Birds by Farid ud-Din Attar, which was recently illustrated by Peter Sis. Once the open mic ended, audience members mingled with the poets, bought books and got autographs.
Kensington Row Bookshop holds monthly poetry readings, and the next one is on May 30, 2012, with poets Nancy Naomi Carlson and Kirk Nesset at 7 p.m.