Wednesday night met us with a brief but powerful literary reading hosted by Patricia Gillikin and Justin Bendell. We heard poetry and literature from a passionate group which included the likes of Kristian Macaron, Julia Brennen, Tyra Belle Lechner, Maxine Peseke, and Matthew Brown. Hosted on Zoom Webinar, this reading felt true to the speaker-audience dynamic that we are used to with literary readings. This reading lacked the exchange of community energy that would otherwise be present, however as Patricia Gillikin pointed out, there is beauty in the audience interacting with the readers via writing in chat. In that respect, the hosts were still able to foster an atmosphere for open dialog between audience members and readers alike.
The night earnestly contemplated feelings of uncertainty we all face as the rollercoaster year of 2020 heads towards its winter season. Themes of trauma, desire for escapism, black beauty, racial tensions, god, and everyday harsh realities stood out heavily during Wednesday night’s reading. To say that I was blown away by the passion and visceral imagery of the literature would be an understatement; at times I felt my mouth plop open and eyebrows raise at the starkness of each piercing piece of work. As the night progressed, each poem/piece of literature brought a powerful perspective to that of the previous. Imagery of bright gas station signs, pre-apocalypse life, looking hate in the face, and working with populations experiencing homelessness painted a vivid and all too real picture of my own community. In many ways, my own hopelessness and uncertainty was reflected back to me through the night’s literature, as I found myself experiencing a much-needed emotional release. Matthew Brown wrapped up the night well, touching on the underlying sense of urgency we all relate to as election day nears, “There isn’t room to discriminate when there’s no room at all”. At times, it does feel like there is no room at all. With all the pain and precariousness we find ourselves wrapped up in, I am glad that Patricia Gillikin and Justin Bendell provided a space for our emotions to collapse into literature.
If you are interested in learning more about Patricia and Justin’s work, head over to their Facebook pages and be sure to check out the amazing featured writers along the way!