Black Lawrence Press released Mary Biddinger’s second full-length collection of poetry, O Holy Insurgency, earlier this year. The poet opened her book tour with a reading at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH on 14 February and read several poems from the collection. In the below video, which was taken at the event, she recites the Insurgency poem “Dyes and Stitchery”:
As part of the reading series, participating poets were asked to write brief thoughts on the state of Ohio and/or how they conceive of the relationship between poetry and Ohio. Biddinger responded with the following:
In Ohio sometimes we let our barns grow so old that they topple, and then we plant sunflowers or flights of kale around the mouse boards and rails and ghosts of saddle horses. Sometimes we are a series of roads, but never resolved to just one side. We try the center lane instead, but do not expect a dynamic vista. As children we dumped a deck of cards into a retention pond and most of them ended face-up. We were allowed to touch feathers and eat snap peas right from the dirt, because it wasn’t dirt, it was Ohio, which may or may not have made us, but nonetheless kept us. We knew better than to imagine the bottom of the quarry, a parting of gray waters or primordial catfish emboldened by stray cheese curls and Coppertone. Maybe we don’t raise our hand in class. Maybe the swish of corduroy makes us self-conscious, like the back of a math book, the last inch of a pencil, like opening day and stuck in the church basement with a haystack of missalettes. Perhaps it’s the way this place does not have a way, but a name, which begins somewhere near a downed tree and halfway across the sky.
The final two readers for the Poets of Ohio reading series will be Cathy Wagner (04/04), and Sarah Gridley (04/18). For more information, please check out the series’ Facebook page.