MONICA BARRON and LINDA SEIDEL Reading Scheduled June 10
- Category: Authors
- Published: Saturday, 29 May 2021 06:52
- Written by Super User
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Join poet Monica Barron and memoirist Linda Seidel on Thursday, June 10, for a reading in the newly opened upstairs venue at Gallery 104 in Kirksville from 5-6:30 pm.
Monica's Prairie Architecture came out near the beginning of the current pandemic; Linda Seidel's Belinda Chronicles came out during the height of the quarantining. Both deserve large, packed, loudly applauding crowds--but we still are being cautious. Come if you're vaccinated or masked; maintain the needed social distance. And listen whole-heartedly to these two wonderful wordsmiths.
Here's a bit of the Prairie Architecture blurb:
"Architecture doesn't just apply to buildings. It can apply to the way we shape our environment and the habitats of other creatures," says Monica Barron. "There's also an architecture to our emotional/intellectual makeups." Deeply aware of how humans read their surroundings, and how these readings become the bones of a culture, Barron takes us from pond to prairie, from beauty salon to abandoned gas station, from fireside loving to winter ice. Often meditative, often whimsical, the songs, sonnets, and postcard poems in Prairie Architecture cluster naturally around ideas or images, though Barron rejects the rigidity of sections with titles. "I've focused on sequencing poems that might help reveal the bones of the body of the book," she says. Thus, we see how environment shapes perspective in "Why We Need Ponds," ("to break the monotony of crops," for example, and "to teach us patience/ when the water we prepared for doesn't come." We see environment shaping perspective again two poems later, in "Kansas makes her think about." In this small and precise poem "banks of wild, cream-colored iris/ mark where a house used to be," and we sense past and present blend in beauty.
And just a few poems later, in a set of seven linked sonnets titled "Meditation from West of the River," we watch the poet remembering how "a heart/could hold heat like sand after a sunset," and again, how "a steady heart can hold heat across/ two states. Mine did. Light and color/ sustained me." This seemingly simple means of sustenance gets immediately complicated as Barron names the colors: "the silver of frost on rotting soybeans" and the red of "a carcass left to the dogs as the sun bled/ the afternoon away." The linked poems here together convey a long and rich love in which closeness and distance play their parts, and in which "whatever it is that connects the heart and mind/ it's at the mercy of memory."
And here's a bit about The Belinda Chronicles:
Linda Seidel's lightly fictionalized memoir lets readers feel what it's like for a naturally skeptical, yet persistently naïve, older woman to watch her parents age out of life, to think about the epiphanies they enable her to have, and to reflect on the lives of "elders" she didn't appreciate until she'd worn through some years herself. The elders whose stories Seidel reconstructs were quintessentially American--meaning complex, subtle and challenging--whether it's a "shell shocked" grandfather who immigrated to Pennsylvania almost a century ago after fighting for Germany in a World War, or a mother who was secretly spitting out her pills at the "Lucky Stroke Nursing Home" in Missouri in 2018.
The Chronicles are organized organically, starting with a Prologue about Belinda's "search for a genre." The genre which she discovers is a series of vignettes, gently shaped and pruned so that readers can study them individually, as smaller sets, and cumulatively. Thus, for example, the initial series of nine short pieces is gathered under the title "Women and Mothers." It includes stories about her mother's childhood ("Trudi's Parents"), her grandmother's old age ("Lotte"), and several about her mother Trudi's last months, branching into dead-on accurate sketches of contemporary nursing home life and workers ("Marty the Nurse"). The final vignette of "Women and Mothers" (titled "Wasting Time: Love and Class") involves reflections on a pair of potential marriages which didn't happen--reflections which lead naturally to a new, two-part section titled "Belinda Reflects."
Our memoirist's reflections nourish all her stories as sap does a tree. The Belinda Chronicles are further enriched by the author's 21st century awareness of patriarchy, feminism, class biases, and anti-immigrant prejudice. As the author says in the book's final section: "[I] regard my family's collective memories and stories as legacies, a kind of inheritance exploited and treasured by the Belinda character in these vignettes.... My greatest debt is to my elders, whose stories I have appropriated and who might feel, alternately, outraged and honored on every page, were they alive to read me."