I have a thing for readings. I love them. Even really bad ones. I once fell in love with a man after we attended a really, really terrible reading from a book about prison rape.

On Saturday, I attended a reading for the new issue of the local literary magazine Barrelhouse. This is my favorite kind of reading—-it supports local authors. And, it was in a bar, the Big Hunt. I didn’t fall in love with my “date,” but the young poetess who read delivered one of the most truly awful bits of doggerel I’ve had the pleasure of hearing. Before she started, the Belarusian wordsmith told the audience that the noise from the fan above her head made it seem like the audience was separated from her by a pane of glass. I wish we had been, so that she wouldn’t have heard my stifled giggles. I tried my best to keep quiet. I stared at her, at the copy of Barrelhouse, at my drink. I inhaled my drink hoping it would distract me. It did not help.

Almost everyone else in the audience was silent. So, I realize it’s possible I was wrong. Perhaps the lady from Minsk is the next Emily Bronte. I offer the examples from Valzhyna Mort‘s “Utopia” so you can judge for yourselves.

This perplexing stanza: “this is why we know neither good nor evil / sometimes our words can cut meat.”

These lines, describing the path of a red moth flying down by a brook (apparently because the moon looks like a cocoon): “and our men try to subdue it / they jump on its back / like overripe plums falling from trees / to tame the horse of the planet.”

This bit, too: “if a heart could be pulled out like a tooth / if memory could be killed / we’d have been so happy living / under the yellow lemonade flag”