The impression one takes away from Tuesday night’s Writers & Books Genesee Reading Series was a sense of stillness. Neither Andrea Weinstein nor Jennifer Grotz, the two featured poets, brought the rumble of dump trucks unloading personal issues. More measured, metered and self-reflective, each, in turn, offered a glimpse of themselves through their work.
Weinstein offered the sentiment “silence gives the self a chance to replenish.” Her poem, “I Hear” bespoke that inner search: “…rhythms in blessed silence….” Using listing in several pieces, she asked in her poem, “One Good Man” to: “…stand up… to yell loud and long…” in her humbled lament against man’s inhumanity to man. She touched upon elegies, one in particular “Archaeology of Life” about what others might find in the treasures left “post Weinstein,” listing a number of things accumulated including “neon strapped heals…” and summed it up eloquently in here poem’s closing line “When I am not here what will be gleamed for these artifacts? I think not much.” Poetically, not true.
Jennifer Grotz read several poems from her books, but true to the night’s unofficial theme of quietude, her work was delivered in measured tone. Whether observations in her self-portrait, “The Window” with lines like “Eyes wide like an owl’s…anger hides in the jaw…” the window image was imaginative and superb. Her reflections continued with poems that spoke of her writing times generated while in a French monastery. Grotz’s comment, “sight leads to insight” rang true throughout. Whether observing a Krakow nun riding across from her on public transportation or her lines from, “The Mountain” observed from the monastery: “No matter how long I looked I could not see it all… how to look at something too big to fit the frame…” or her delicate poem brushing fear, “Scorpion,” or concluding her reading with “Poppies” and the natural wonder around, which she summated with “Love is letting the world be half tamed,” Grotz’s poems like Weinstein’s brought a stillness to the evening that was refreshing.
The Genesee Reading Series is now in its 34th year at Writers & Books, and is held every month on the second Tuesday.
Review by David J. Delaney