I have shopped at Myopic Books in Wicker Park before, but I have never been to their reading series. Last Saturday night I went to the reading series and did no shopping for books. I had no knowledge of or experience reading any of the authors who read, and was happy to approach the event with a measured level of ignorance of what to expect.
Kenyatta Rogers read first. He read eight to ten poems that had the flare of performance poetry, both in delivery and content. The pieces were somewhat moralistic in this right but Rogers’ voice was engaging.
Second was Daniel Nester, who read memoir prose, presumably select chapters from a larger work he is working on. The writing was stripped down realism, and he mentioned many of the prose piece become sestinas as you read them on the page. This was an interesting point because I would’ve had no idea of this fact unless he told everyone preemptively, and that it didn’t matter anyway because I couldn’t see the work on the page. I feel that I would have liked to read Nester’s work rather than hear it, in so much as I could catch these sestinas and other nuances within the text.
J. Hope Stein read mostly poetry, mostly poems from a multi-volume project about Thomas Edison. Stein’s voice as a writer was clear and strong. Her work had a strange personality; it was equally quirky and dark, somewhat biting but innocent. I enjoyed her poems the most because of their directness and distinctiveness.
The venue itself was interesting. It was on the second floor of Myopic, which remained open during the reading, and a few shoppers ventured up and perused the shelves as the readers read, which was distracting but not invasive. It was funny at times. The audience was very quiet and only spoke when prompted to clap or greet someone/thing.
In all, the reading was like many readings I have been to before. The environment and mood of the event was light, which I appreciated, and in all, I feel that each reader had unique, good work, each bringing something different to the experience reflected in their styles.