A Review of Chatham's Queer Read-In

            On November 2 at 8:30 Chatham University hosted a Queer Read-In, which featured Iyanna Armwood, Jess Turner, Carina Stopenski, Sara Leavens, Cedric Rudolph, and Michael Bennet. The organizers tried a new style for the reading where, rather than having a podium at the front where the readers all stood with the audience facing them, they arranged the chairs in three circles. There was an inner circle of chairs, a circle around that one, and a third circle behind all of that. Due to the high turn-out, there were additional half circles added. Then readers stayed in their places in the circles and just read while the audience turned to face them. While this format was interesting and would have worked well for a small crowd, for the turnout they received it was hard to see many of the readers. It was also uncomfortable at times to turn around and try to see readers directly behind me.

            One of the readers, Michael Bennet, read one of his pieces in a very conversational style, which differed from the rest of the room, who were largely poets. The way he read it felt more as though the audience was in a conversation with him. It was reminiscent of David Sedaris reading his diaries in some of his early readings. He also gave introductions to his pieces, telling the stories of where they came from before he went into them. While this can sometimes become overbearing, especially when it overshadows the writing itself, he had a good balance of giving us some information to feel connected without trying to tell us the story before he read it. Another reader, Sara Leavens, did that as well, talking about the bakery where she used to work before she started reading the poems written there. This sense of connection with the readers before they even began reading their work itself was helpful, and it made the work itself feel more meaningful.

All in all, the reading was excellent and a great use of a Thursday night. If they decide to make this an annual event, I'll be excited to attend again!