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Annie Finch Performance Review

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at West Chester chapter.

On October 3rd, 2022, I walked into the Phillips Autograph Library on West Chester University’s campus. I had never been in the castle building before, and the stormy atmosphere outside set the scene for the poetry reading I was attending. Annie Finch was the speaker that night. I had never read her poetry before but was not disappointed by her performance. She walked up the podium wearing lots of different colors, her clothing flowed around her, and feather earrings hung from her ears. Her appearance fit her personality. She started her performance by reading a few different poems and then spoke with the audience. 

Annie shared about her personal life, which influenced her work. She is a self-proclaimed witch. Annie discovered that she was a witch at age thirty-five while living in California, but she knew that her spirituality had been inside her, her entire life. She was born on Halloween, no coincidence to her witch identity. She uses writing both professionally and spiritually. She has started an online witch and poet community, which she is very proud of. For a while she thought her poet identity and witch identity were separate. She explained how she learned that her identities are not separate, they simply overlap in terms of meter. An added bonus was she explained one of her witch rituals to the audience. She writes letters to her ancestors and burns them. She explains that during this time of year there is a thin layer between the living and the dead. A lot of her spiritual personality shines through in her poems. 

Listening to her recite her poems, I experienced beautiful imagery that created vivid and unique pictures inside my head. When she read Watching the Whale, I was so immersed in the details of the ocean. The content of her poems, as I said before comes from her personal life, including nature, abortion, Greek mythology, sexual abuse, and spirits. Some of the other poems that really stuck with me were My Sister Who Kept Her Abortion A Secret, Two Bodies (written while having sex with her husband), and parts of her collection Spells. All of Annie’s poems are meant to be read aloud. Not only was I impressed by her memorization skills, and the ability to perform without reading from her reference papers; I was enchanted by her slow encaptivating meter, and how calmly she swayed with words when performing. The words in her poem create a chanting rhythm, aligned with the themes and tones of her poems.

“he who abuses a women / mother earth won’t feed or bury”

— Annie Finch

Afterward, she gave advice to aspiring poets like myself. She encourages us to read all our poems aloud to an audience. She says it is important to be willing to revise and always look for repetition in everything, not just words but sounds, meter, rhyme, and form. If you are interested in seeing Annie Finch, she will be at the WCU Poetry Open Mic on October 27th, 2022 in the Sykes Lobby. I might just have to go and experience this performance again. 

Julia Harpel

West Chester '23

Julia Harpel is a senior editor and student at West Chester University. She is working towards her BSED English Writings Track with a Creative Writing Minor. She hopes to one day earn a Master's Degree. Julia is a mental health advocate, environmentalist, and feminist. When she is not at school, at work, writing, or reading, she loves to spend time with friends, go on adventures such as kayaking, and listen to country music.