Friday night, feminist press Birds of Lace sponsored a reading at Queens art space Mustard Beak featuring the work of Gina Abelkop, Carrie Murphy, Rohin Guha, Jason Helm, and Niina Pollari.
A few words on the Mustard Beak art space: it's located off the Myrtle-Wyckoff stop of the L on Gates Ave in the basement of an apartment building. Now, to enter the space, you have to descend the absolute scariest concrete stairs I've ever used: uneven, of drastically different heights and widths, covered in broken glass and trash...if I had known I'd be straight up urban hiking, I would have worn slightly more appropriate footwear (i.e. not my new amazing wedges! The way back up after several Yuenglings was equally treacherous, if not more so. You have been warned!).
That said, what a great art space! Spare and intimate, with Christmas lights strung along the pipes and a pleasant note of incense in the air (politely and effectively disguising the typical musty basement smell), it was perfectly suited to hold the 20-30 people in attendance. Ideal for the starving artist on a budget.
I'm a big fan of small, independent presses. I feel like, more often than not, major publishing houses, in the interest of profit, either publish authors they feel like may bring major literary accolades OR writers who they can acquire for cheap and publish at a profit, which leaves a lot of young talent in the lurch (i.e. a writer working out of the box, or who has created something a bit more innovative might not sell as well as a, say, poorly written YA paranormal romance novel about chaste teenage love). I am continually delighted by work that I stumble upon coming out of some of the small presses.
A few highlights from the readings:
Gina read from her poem collection Darling Beastlettes, which is now taking up residence in my to-read pile. Full disclosure: I don't know a ton about poetry in terms of what makes a poem technically "good," BUT I know what I like. Abelkop is really adept at creating interesting and lyrical images, which she reads beautifully. I'm really looking forward to curling up with her collection!
I went to high school with Carrie, and am so proud of all she's accomplished. She recently completed her MFA at New Mexico State University, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2011 for her poem "Ocean City" by NAP magazine, and her first full-length collection of poems is available NOW from Keyhole Press. Buy it here! Loved the pieces she shared and I can't wait to get my hands on my own copy of Pretty Tilt.
In other news, I got a new Flaubert inspired tattoo! Pics coming soon, once it's healed a bit more :)