Agent Angie reads to us
This has been quite a week of readings, providing events so diverse, from Opium Magazine’s unorthodox literary death match to 92nd Street Y‘s uptown and kinda uptight Jorie Graham and Yusuf Komunyakaa reading.
And in the middle, Wednesday saw the 85th anniversary reading of Weird Tales Magazine at KGB Bar. The magazine brought three of their favorite authors, Micaela Morrisette, Jeffrey Ford, and Karen Heuler. Morisette started things off with the weirdest of the night, a story about ritualized cannibalism. Her reading of it was disturbing; she described her characters devouring their meals with such a plethora of adjectives and in such a soft and captivated voice, fetishizing the concept. I felt like I was listening to a harlequin romance about craving human beings for dinner. Unsettling? Yes. Not exactly my cup of tea but compelling nonetheless.
My favorite part of the night was when Stephen H. Segal, the editorial and creative director of the magazine, did a reading of Weird Tales’ readers’ submissions of 500 word stories inspired by a spam subject line they found in their inbox. He read three of the honorable mentions throughout the night. They were awesome.
Those were the highlights of the evening. KGB Bar is so far my favorite readings venue. It is surely the most intimate, being so tiny that there were people overflowing into the hallway. Predictably, everything is red, with busts and portraits of Lenin galore. The disappointing beer selection, offering only the usual suspects was a downer for me, but its atmosphere, authenticity, and tininess get it on the GL of NY bars and reading venues.
The next night came 92nd Street Y’s Jorie Graham and Yusuf Komunyakaa reading. Sometimes I wish the Y could loosen itself up a bit. I’ve been to one other reading there, and both times I nodded off at some point during the event. It’s not intimate by any stretch of the imagination (I’ve found that intimacy is best for readings so that one can absorb and thus more easily follow what the writer is reading), the seats are not too comfy, and it’s not a place where I feel relaxed.
Graham read first, and sadly, it was tedious. Her voice was very abrupt and breathy when she read. It was very “poet-like;” the stereotype that inserts pauses in odd places for effect, and pauses at the end of every line. I hate when people read poetry that way. It makes poetry sound foreign, validating the preconceived notions some have about the inaccessibility of poetry. She read solely from Sea Change which didn’t thrill me. I had trouble associating any of the words she was saying together. I felt like I needed to have the book in front of me and follow along to grasp the meaning behind her words.
Yusuf Komunyakaa on the other hand had a beautiful reading voice. It was very soft and deep. He recited Rs with a unique flair and had a bluesy lilt to his voice. My favorite poem of his was called “Requiem,” about New Orleans after Katrina.