SPECTRA poetry night

dora malach

Recently, I experienced yet another amazing night of live poetry at Rozz-Tox cafe. It was the kickoff of the new season of the  SPECTRA poetry series, sponsored by the Midwest Writing Center. It was a female-fueled evening and featured two guest poets, Dora Malech and Jennifer Perrine. Local female poets started the evening out with their poems, and an upbeat, all-female band, the Busted Chandeliers, bookended the evening.

I rode on a wave of familiar and forgotten words and color: red bird/ rib cage/ yellow bird/ pellucid/ travelogue/ resurrectionist/ molars

As I sipped my lingonberry juice, an electric buzz move up my spine, entered my brain– inspiration–a breathing in of the energy of ideas, but also a corporeal experience. I noticed some poets in the audience with their notebooks, jotting down key phrases, or poetry ideas that popped up into their heads. At least I assume this is what they were doing; I’m doubtful one could write a grocery list in the middle of such a physical experience. Physical: sometimes like a punch to the gut, or roiling stomach acid. Sometimes it was euphoria of a shared sense.

An idea for a color poem moved from my body to my brain.  Here is an example of a color poem by Christina Rossetti.

I’d better get to it before this feeling passes. These poets have set a high bar.


The Midwest Writing Center provided the following biographical background on Dora Malech and Jennifer Perrine:

Dora Malech:

“Dora Malech is the author of two collections of poetry, Say So (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 2011) and Shore Ordered Ocean (Waywiser Press, 2009). Her poems have appeared in publications that include The New Yorker and Poetry, and they are forthcoming in the anthology The New Census (Rescue Press, 2013). She has been a Writing Fellow at the Civitella Ranieri Center in Italy, a Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellow, a Visiting Assistant Professor at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, a Distinguished Poet-in-Residence at Saint Mary’s College of California, a Teaching-Writing Fellow at Augustana College, and a Visiting Writer in China through the International Writing Program’s “Life of Discovery” initiative. She lives in Iowa City, where she directs the Iowa Youth Writing Project, a nonprofit language arts outreach organization.”

Jennifer Perrine:

“Jennifer Perrine’s first collection of poems, The Body Is No Machine (New Issues), won the 2008 Devil’s Kitchen Reading Award in Poetry. Her second book, In the Human Zoo (University of Utah Press), received the 2010 Agha Shahid Ali Poetry Prize. In 2014, she will serve as a member of the U.S. Arts and Culture Delegation to Cuba. Perrine teaches in the English department and directs the Women’s and Gender Studies program at Drake University.”

The next SPECTRA poetry event takes place on October 10, 2013. It will begin at 8p.m. at Rozz-Tox.


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