Poetry Field Report: Wilde Readings - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Poetry Field Report: Wilde Readings

Poet Ann Bracken at Wilde Readings credit Rocky Jones

Ann Bracken shares a poem at Wilde Readings.

An open mic plus featured readers, Wilde Readings, take place at Columbia Art Center.  The readings are put together by Maryland poets, Laura Shovan, LindaJoy Burke, and Ann Bracken. They all know me, and I have been there once before, so there was no significant awkwardness when I walked in on September 12, except I was wearing a 1950s nurse’s uniform.

I wasn’t really wearing a 1950s nurse’s uniform. It did get awkward later, because I tried a different version of my stall tactic. My usual stall tactic is to say, “This first piece is a performance piece and it’s called Rocky Decides What to Read,” or some such, and I nervously look through my papers. This time I announced I would do a performance piece, did not mention a title, then I started discussing the children’s art on the wall. It wasn’t very engaging. Linda Joy spoke up and expressed confusion, so I explained that the discussion was the performance piece. She asked the audience if anyone else was disappointed. Mime-like, I sank behind the lectern. Linda Joy has a way of being able to say whatever she wants and be immediately forgiven. I forgave. I reemerged to read an actual poem off an actual page. They seemed to like it more than the last crowd.

Wilde Readings at Columbia Arts Center

Wilde Readings take place at the Columbia Art Center.

That is to say, it was the same poem* I read at my previous field investigation at Red Emma’s.

The turnout was light. I think I overheard someone say they usually get at least 13 people. This time it was 9, including the 3 producers and 2 featured poets, but, as often happens at poetry readings that have small turnouts, there was a pleasant intimacy. It was kind of a hybrid reading/chat. Chat in the old sense, you know, sit around talking. That dynamic was especially fostered by the producers’ knack for setting an open-dialog atmosphere, and their choice to include a Q&A period after each featured reader’s presentation. The discussions were fun. Ann, Linda Joy, and Laura have a love of poetry-and-poets that I like to see at events like this. Engaged and engaging.

I think they tend to have poets as their featured guests, but this time there was a novelist, Debbi Mack, who read 3 short chapters from her book for young audiences. It was about an unpopular girl who was asked by a cool kid to spy on another cool kid; it’s called Invisible Me.

Poet Pat Valdata read from her book of poems Where No Man Can Touch, on the theme of women in aviation, sort of chronicling milestones along history from the first woman to solo in a hot air balloon, to the first woman to break the sound barrier. Excellent topic, and well-done, with an intimacy I wasn’t expecting from a historical topic. I invited her to read for the Evil Grin series in Annapolis in 2018.

The facility is for art classes. On my previous visit, the staff let me take a self-guided tour of the downstairs, where they have their kilns and muddy surfaces.

I am, in some sense, obsessively fair-minded toward children, that’s why, in the photograph, I obscured the art with a Gimp filter called “Cubism”. Q: Why didn’t I seek clearance to reproduce the art? A: That would signify ambition that I do not possess in the pursuit of these field reports. Q: Do I really think a child would mind a copyright violation of this nature? A: It’s a possibility, and that’s enough. Well, this is quite off topic. Where was I?

Your limit at Wilde Readings is 2 poems or 5 minutes.

7pm to 9pm, second Tuesdays. Columbia Art Center, 6100 Foreland Garth, Columbia, MD.

Go there. And wear any kind of nurse’s uniform you want.

* Oh, check this out, the poem I mention in this article is called Stage Announcement, and it was published, September 1, in the debut issue of Texture Magazine. The poem on the cover is also mine. Yeehaw. The magazine is in some sense, Annapolis-centric, but the good news it that all that is needed for you to consider yourself a “card-carrying members of the Annapolis arts scene” is to have gone to an arts event in Annapolis once in your life.

About the author

Rocky Jones

Rocky Jones produces second-Saturday poetry readings, 6:30pm at Evelyn's in Annapolis, MD. He is a musician, artist, and multimedia poet. His poems have been published in Texture, Gargoyle, and Truck. Contact the author.

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