Bluestockings hosted a double book release party for Katie Longofono’s chapbook The Angel of Sex and Miriam Nash’s Small Change. They brought with them poet Nina Bahadur, author of Every Single One and poet Lisa Marie Basile, author of Triste. Katie Longofono and Miriam Nash are both MFA candidates at Sarah Lawrence College.
Katie Longofono’s collection of poems each centers on a woman character; each poem is titled with a young woman’s name. These characters drive the narrative of the poems. In some cases, the poems reveal the dark tragedies of these women, while in other instances, their weakness.
Those who are flawed are perhaps the most intriguing. In “Jillian,” the subject “wants to be a whore. For now, / she is caught at the iridescent age / of seventeen, sneaking wine coolers / from her parents’ basement.” Jillian exemplifies a young girl in crisis, someone every reader has known or has been. And alongside the delicate and rhythmic language, Longofono layers in coarser choices such as when “Jillian is bored, so she fucks.” The verse is made more interesting by this dichotomy and the shifting language helps propel these character sketches.
Still, some of these women lack any agency of their own. In “Sue,” the focus is primarily on a boy, a “fumbler” who is “full of longing for my body, / for cock meets cunt.” Here, the emphasis of “Sue” is not on the woman, but how she is defined her through the relationship to the boy. he has “enslaved” her.
Her collection, The Angel of Sex, was released by Dancing Girl Press and Studio.
Miriam Nash is a performer. She approaches the stage with cool confidence and then unexpectedly recites a poem from memory. She does this again and again, and later, when finally she opens her book, she apologizes for reading from the text. Her apology is unnecessary.
She first recites a poem written about her childhood home, the Scottish Island, Iona. Imagery of color fills“Iona Sky” with brightness paired against playful sounds; her interest in slam poetry is evident in the rhythms within her texts. Her verse continues with delicate cadences that empower the text.
Aside from intentional auditory playfulness, Nash includes wonderful examples of Britishisms like “car park,” though the loveliness of these phrases may be lost on readers more accustomed to them. Her poems also include unexpected images, like this moment at the opening of “Burn Mark:” “I always envied boys / who’d run their fingers / through a naked flame / as coolly as a I’d stroke a cat.”
Her collection, Small Change was released last week by Flipped Eye Publishing.
Katie Longofono reading from her new chapbook, The Angel of Sex
Miriam Nash recites poems from her new book, Small Change
Lisa Marie Basile