Emilie Rasmusen 5.1.2019
Saturday night, I went to “Clean Poetry,” a poetry reading at Art Obscura, hosted by Liz Liano. The event lasted from 7 pm to 10 pm, and the readings began at 8 pm.
On its flyer, the event was described as “a night of local words for people with dirty rooms,” and it featured illustrations of a hairbrush, a chair full of clothes, and a happy guitar with outreaching arms.
I arrived at about 7:30, after being very nervous, changing my outfit several times, and finally deciding to eat a grilled cheese sandwich before leaving (my go-to for when I have literally no time and feel very stressed).
By the day of the event, my room was the messiest it has been in months, and I think that that fit.
“I named the event Clean Poetry because of the discourse my poems have with the conflation of goodness and cleanness and the attainability of ever being clean,” explained Liano.
A blue lamp stood in the corner of the room. Liano had put together a looped video of her hands. Her hands slathering mud onto her arms outside, then using a water hose to wash off the mud. A cat silently watching her. Then, Liano’s hands washing in a white sink, with soap and water. It was mesmerizing, and I think that I could have fallen asleep to it. The first to perform was Melissa Herrera, and her performance incorporated movement, chanting, and decorating herself with various electrical cables.
After the Herrera came performers Chauncey and Shelley, both of whom read personal pieces.
“The purpose of my events at the core is to share and connect with people,” said Liano. “I want to express performatively things people have a hard time talking about, and then encourage conversation of these things,” she continued.
Liz performed some poems that she had written when she was younger. Later on in the evening, she read more recent poems, plunging them into a a small tub of water after she read them.
In between the poets, music was performed by Simeon Beardsley and Kt Neely.
Simeon’s music feels as though you are sitting by a window and the light outside of the window is very white because it is overcast. However, the room that you are in is not too cold, and you have a blanket and a cup of turmeric tea.
Kt played a loop of fuzzy conversations behind her performance, and it felt as though ghosts were hanging out right by us. She mixed eeriness, femininity, and emotion to produce something that felt very mother of pearl.
During one of the breaks in the show, Liano set out a light blue blanket on the floor for attendees to sit on. I considered lying on the blanket on my stomach, but I stuck next to the wall.
Sometimes things are not meant to be comfortable. But this was comfortable.
“…I just hope no one ever feels alone or hopeless because we all feel weird sometimes. The least we can all do it talk about it,” said Liano.