What happened last month?

I felt guilty when I missed a recap four weeks ago, I’ll be damned if I miss this one too, and so I’ll just have to be extra quick on the both of our May workshops if I’m ever to assuage my everlasting catholic guilt.  On May 16th, The Hour After Happy Hour read some excellent poetry submissions from Dean Matthews, and Kara Helmick-Nelson – our first bout into poetry since the last time we talked about poetry (probably a really long time).

Dean’s project focuses on the intersection of science and poetry.The poem I’m going to call Our Canoe Wobbled (because I love that title/line) clocked in at about two pages with some mystifyingly huge but specific imagery like, “that lake as still and huge as childhood.”

The numerous themes and multiple meanings within the work made discussion particularly rich – from man’s impact on the lake where the poem was set, to a loss of childhood.  The poem also blended some really cool colloquial speech with a more dominant analytic voice.  The second poem tentatively titled Scoring described the careful and disturbingly casual/constant dissection of a lab mice.

From reincarnating mice, we dove into Kara’s poems – Kara possesses a particular gift for reflecting on current events, and using them to drive her poems, something I enjoy, but often fall short of accomplishing. Shelley famously wrote, “Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.”

The three poems focused on different contemporary issues, from organ harvesting in China to the recent disturbingly horrendous  stabbing at Target in East Liberty.  With short line breaks, these poems were quick, but powerful.  One line that I particularly love is, “Her cry is rosewater,” from a poem called She Digs.  

Our most recent workshop featured yours truly, as well as Jason Peck’s third submission to the group.

For this story, Jason really challenged himself to step outside of his own consciousness and into the voice of a lonely, yet very helpful waitress at a local diner.  For not being a waitress in his late 30’s, I thought Jason nailed the voice and setting, and never doubted the identity of the speaker.   Jason’s laconic prose  that I think we’ve all come to eagerly anticipate shined brightly again.

My story was on the block next.  Having just begun to write about this workshop, and never about my own experience of being workshopped that wasn’t whining about colleagues and professors, all I will say is that I really appreciated the feedback.  So it’s not a total cop-out my submission was from a hopeful novel I’d started in college but given up on.  This group inspired me to pick it back up.  For that I’m forever grateful – this also being my first shot at actually finishing  fiction in a really really long time.  The idea is that it is a Young Adult piece that focuses on a few different narrators as they embark on their Senior Trip before college, currently called “Then it wasn’t”.  This is already better than it was after a 4-month independent study.  So I thank you all again.  This group’s talent continues to stupefy me.

This Thursday we’ll feature two brilliant writers (and brilliant people – which is totally not always the case) in Lea Bridi and Martin Van Velsen, and I know you don’t want to miss that!

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