Now available: Sex in the Library

Sex in the Library is an anthology of nine provocative, text-based performance pieces by members of the Writing for Performance class at Eastern Michigan University (Winter 2012). These texts represent an extensive range of textual and performance strategies examined and actualized over the course of the semester. The texts are captivating on the page: visually, linguistically, syntactically, and in terms of their performative, textual presentations. Each piece further points to its own dramatic realization off the page. From a musical score to an improvisational divination, the work included here is smart and dynamic, serious and hilarious, and of the caliber and genre-busting spirit of great Poets Theater work. Sex in the Library is a textual event indicative of many further off-page events to come.

Contributors include: Emily Clarkson, Emily Riopelle, Kay Crawford, Melissa Bowling, G. Matthew Mapes, Matt Catania, Jonah D. Mixon-Webster, Jill Darling, and Miranda Metelksi.

To obtain your own copy of Sex in the Library, send $10 plus $2 shipping to:
Jill Darling
Frog Island Press
English Department 612 Pray-Harrold
Eastern Michigan University
Ypsilanti, MI 48197

or email for more info.

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Anthony Zick reviews Fall BathHouse Readings

EMU student Anthony Zick reviews both BathHouse readings from Fall semester (Laura Wetherington, Jill Darling, and Sara Williams from Sept. 28; Taylor Brady from Nov. 10):

BathHouse this Semester was in many ways, enjoyable, cohesive, and productive.  First I would like to praise the specifics of its organization, I will say that the requirement of all Creative Writing (CW) students to attend is a smart and generous move of the CW faculty.  Otherwise, unfortunately, half of the Sponberg Theater would be empty and the visiting authors would feel unappreciated.  Also, Sponberg Theater is a good is good location being that it is near the center of EMU’s Campus and thus makes the walk about even for everybody.  Additionally, the timing of the events were as good as they could have been at a college full of commuters Eastern.  Since anything scheduled before 4pm is likely to interrupt with classes, it made sense to have the readings start around 5 or 6:30pm.  And, of course, since many commuters come from an hour or more away, it was helpful to have the reading on a day when they were already on campus.

To broaden my review, the planning and programming of these events provided EMU students with a cohesive experience.  Most obviously, Taylor Brady’s work was taught in at least some of the CW classes this semester, precisely to prepare for Taylor’s live presence at the BathHouse readings.     Hearing an author live can make all the difference, especially for younger poets who are always in the hunt for mentors and real, available brains to pick for opinions.  The Reading with Jill Darling, Sara Williams, and Laura Wetherington benefited CW students in that many students were already invested in them as their former or current teachers.  Pathos really does make a difference in how we see a person’s work.  That is not to say that their work was not so good without the pathos.  It is only to say that the students are more likely to lend a generous ear to people who have been generous to them.  I should also mention that Jill and Laura’s  plan to read a collaborative poem was another good example of community.  I wonder now whether they were reading their own lines or whether they read each other’s lines or some mixture of the two.  Both of these readings stand as good models for community in literature.

In regards to the actual poets and poems, I am somewhat ignorant.  I was not one of the students who studied the poems that Taylor Brady read in class, and I have never had a class with any of the EMU MA’s, so I was partially out of the loop.  I know now that Taylor Brady’s poetry is the kind of poetry that needs to be read ahead of time, but I didn’t know then, so I did my best to catch a glimpse of what was being said.  This is one suggestion I have for future readings.  If the poet writes short and/or dense poems, I would put as many poems as possible online for students to study beforehand.

Another suggestion I have is in regards to the interests of the EMU CW community and to the larger EMU community.  As with all Universities, EMU’s Creative Writing program has a distinctive flavor.  In my experience it tends to be more experimental than other communities I’ve been around.  That said, my professors accommodate different tastes to a reasonable extent in their classes.  I would like to see this happen more with the reader series.  Personally, I like experimental work, but I also like the poets who are more conversational and highly emotional (not sentimental of course).  If we were to bring in poets like this, on an occasional basis, I believe that more non-CW students would come to readings and that CW students would get a new take on the possibilities of contemporary poetry.  Take this suggestion with a grain of salt because I’ve only been at EMU since last Fall.

Even though I have said that EMU tends to be experimental, I will also say that it is very practical, in that, when you’re handing in a final draft, your work is your work.  The teacher just wants to know that you are working hard and that you’re going through the process of learning what he or she is teaching you.  I think this has been beneficial for me because I’m not great at all forms of writing.  I try them out, but if I feel strongly led to something familiar, I don’t always hold back.

Alessa Pointer reviews Laura Wetherington, Jill Darling, and Sara Williams

EMU student Alessa Pointer reviews the faculty BathHouse Reading from earlier this semester:

On September 8, 2011, I attended my first BathHouse Reading with Laura Wetherington, Jill Darling and Sara Williams and I must say that I enjoyed it. All three women were wonderful, but Laura Wetherington absolutely magnificent. Her style is so quirky and funny, and everything she read was wonderful. My favorite line would have to be “an orgasm is just your body clapping for itself.” The collaborative work between Jill and Laura was also something I very much enjoyed. We have been discussing   collaborative works in one of my creative writing classes and to actually see it done was beautiful. It was obvious that these two women were close and knew much about one another and the piece executed that very well. Sara’s work was interesting, but what I found most interesting was her students work.  Her students are young and innocent and it reminded me a lot of my own work as a child. It also made me think of how much my work has grown and matured and I hope theirs does as well. My second BathHouse Reading wasn’t as memorable as my first, but Taylor Brady’s writing was exceptional. I cannot remember entire phrases but I do remember being moved by his work. Hopefully one day I will be able to move someone the way Taylor, Sara, Jill and Laura moved me.

After seeing these performances I realized that is what I want to do with my life. Before I wanted to edit, critique someone else’s work because I passionately dislike the criticism of my work. I don’t take criticism very well, and I accept this. But now I think I would like to change someone’s life the way literature has changed mine. The way all of their work made me feel has opened up a completely new realm of possibilities for me. It has allowed me to finally go on with my true passion which is and has almost always been writing.

Jessica Chrisekos reviews Laura Wetherington, Jill Darling, and Sara Williams

EMU Creative Writing student Jessica Chrisekos reviews the EMU Faculty BathHouse Reading from earlier this semester that featured Laura Wetherington, Jill Darling, and Sara Williams:

On Wednesday, September 28th, Eastern welcomed Laura Wetherington, Jill Darling, and Sara Williams to the Creative Writing BathHouse Reading Series. Their performance was particularly enjoyable for me. They covered a range of topics, and they also included many styles of writing. The first style presented was a collaboration between Jill and Laura. They went back and forth reciting lines of their own. This was fun for the audience to listen to because there were two different voices that needed to be strung together to create one poem.

Along with a collaboration, many styles were present in their performance. There was humor, as well as a disturbing tale about a Michigan murder. Sara Williams also included a piece called “First Poem.” I really enjoyed listening to this. There is a sort of magic that comes along with children and the innocence they possess. It’s interesting to think that when we were very young, we had none of the cares that we carry now. “First Poem” had a special meaning to me, as it drew attention to the fact that perhaps life isn’t as troublesome as we thought. While there are hardships, it’s important to remember the simple things that never failed to interest us when we were so young.

I enjoyed this BathHouse reading because these three wonderful women had energy and passion. It’s always fun to watch a poet perform and express themselves. In a way, they are letting you into their mind for a brief moment, letting you think their thoughts, and feel their feelings. This was definitely the case for this event, as the readers captured and held my attention with their works.

BathHouse Reading – September 28, 5:00 p.m. – Laura Wetherington, Jill Darling and Sara Williams

The Bathhouse Reading Series brings in a number of writers and artists —both innovative established writers and exciting up-and-comers—who perform readings of their work. See video of past readings and performances in the Photos/Video section. For more information on these readings, contact the EMU English Department at 734.487.4220. All events are free and open to the public.

September 28, (readings by EMU faculty)
Sponberg Theater, 5 p.m. – 6:45 p.m.
Laura Wetherington, Jill Darling and Sara Williams

Laura Wetherington is a graduate of the University of Michigan’s MFA program, UC Berkeley’s Undergraduate English Department and Cabrillo College. Her first book, A Map Predetermined and Chance, was selected by C.S. Giscombe for the 2010 National Poetry Series and is forthcoming in October from Fence Books. She has poems published or forthcoming from Otoliths, Verse, Eleven Eleven, Bombay Gin, Oxford Magazine and Just Magazine. Laura co-edits with Anna Vitale.

Jill Darling earned her MFA in creative writing from Colorado State University and is working on a Ph.D. dissertation at Wayne State University on 20th century American experimental women writers such as Gertrude Stein, H.D., Lyn Hejinian and Claudia Rankine. Her chapbook Begin With May: A Series of Moments was published by Finishing Line Press in 2008 and full-length book Solve For was published online by BlazeVOX the same year. Jill’s poems and creative essays have been published in Upstairs at Duroc, The Bombay Gin, A, Phoebe, Aufgabe, Highway 14, Poets and Poems, Factorial, New Millennium Writings, Quarter After Eight, /NOR, 580 Split, Poetry in Motion and the anthology Poetic Voices Without Borders.

Sara Williams graduated from University of California, Santa Cruz in Creative Writing and Literature. She earned her MA in Creative Writing from Eastern Michigan University focusing on writing and art. A 2010 InsideOut Literary Arts Project Writer-in-Residence at Detroit’s Bagley Elementary, she currently teaches creative writing at EMU.