What strikes me about three recent readings by Just Poets (Leah Zazulyer at our JP monthly meeting, M.J. Iuppa at Before Your Quiet Eyes bookstore, and Claudia Stanek, featured reader at Writers & Books’ Genesee Reading Series in August), is the range each showed. All are highly respected and at ease within the world of poetry, and each shares her work with care and preparation.
Leah Zazulyer’s talk/reading was on Poetry in Translation, specifically Yiddish poets, and one in particular, Israel Emiot. She read from her new book, “As Long As We Are Not Alone” selected poems by Israel Emiot. She was beautifully prepared: handouts, exercises, and an extensive bibliography for the attendees. When Leah read, her presence and delivery silenced the room, as did the lines of Emiot and others.
M.J. Iuppa was the featured poet at our monthly JP open mic in September. I've listened to M.J. read before. Each time feels like a journey. Whether it’s to settle down under a tree, look on at an Ontario lakeside world, or explore a painting, these “trips” always lead to beautiful discoveries. In the poems she read (including “Yellow Rice,” "This Family Called Apple,” “Pontoon,” “Uncovering the Well” and others) there is that country warmth, an invitation in, a touch of canning jar (with an occasional bee inside), that pauses the reader/ listener to collect and connect with the heart.
Claudia Stanek, the W&B featured reader this last month, brought that glint to her work, an edge of honesty poetry deserves. I loved her poem “Well” with the lines; “A woman drinks from the well of adversity...thoughts so wet with weight, she buckles under…” And “I Grew up in a Dog Kennel” cuts as hard as the title. In “Cosmology” she ponders her passion for all things furry, and asks “How long is five minutes to a feral cat…”
These women are poets among other things, Just Poets in particular. Each unique, each well worth your time and attention.