Meadows Museum hosts poetry reading featuring four North Louisiana poets
SHREVEPORT, LA — Local poets Katie Bickham, Carolyn Breedlove, Ashley Mace Havird, and Julie Kane, all featured in the new Nasty Women Poets: An Unapologetic Anthology of Subversive Verse, will present readings from and sign copies of the anthology during an event at Centenary’s Meadows Museum on Thursday, February 8 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public and an open mic session will follow the readings.
The goal for the anthology, edited by Kane and Grace Bauer, was to create a space for women to respond to the infamous comment – “such a nasty woman!” – directed at candidate Hillary Clinton during the final televised debate of the 2016 presidential election. The editors point out that women “reclaimed” the phrase almost immediately through a hashtag, memes, t-shirts, and jewelry, using “nasty woman” to mean any woman who resists sexist stereotyping. Though the original comment, followed by the unexpected result of the presidential election, served as the impetus for the project, Kane and Bauer stress that the anthology has taken on a much larger purpose.
“The call for poems made it clear that we were looking for broader – and more varied – perspectives on women’s experience,” said Bauer in an interview in early 2018. “Women poets have always been resisting, reclaiming, and reinventing – sometimes subtly, sometimes more overtly. To my mind, any refusal to allow others to define what it means to be a woman is a kind of resistance.”
After releasing the call for submissions a few days after the November 2016 election, the editors relied primarily on social media, listservs, and groups of women writers to get the word out. The response was overwhelming – they received over 1,500 poems and eventually chose submissions from 217 writers representing almost every state and ten other countries. The anthology is divided into ten themed sections, weaving together topics such as love, sex, relationships, beauty, the body, self-image, and mothers and daughters. The themes and the poetry have proved to be relevant to an ever wider audience than the editors originally imagined.
“Since the book came out last fall, the most surprising thing to me has been the number of men who have said they loved it,” said Kane. “Lots of men bought copies of it to give to wives, girlfriends, and daughters for Christmas.”
Shreveport poet Ashley Mace Havird was immediately inspired by the language of the call for submissions encouraging “all nasty women poets to come to the aid of their country.”
“When I saw the call for poems for the Nasty Women anthology, I did not walk – I ran – to my computer to get my submission in the works. I am thrilled to have been included,” said Havird. “In the same way that other recent movements have galvanized individuals and brought them together to protest injustice, including the #MeToo movement and the Women’s March, this volume of poetry has helped to raise consciousness: no, we are not alone, and yes, together we can make an impact.”
The February 8 reading at the Meadows Museum is one of dozens of book launch events organized nationwide by the anthology’s contributors. Kane and her colleagues hosted a Nasty Women Poets reading and book signing at the Louisiana Book Festival in Baton Rouge in October 2017 and will also be performing at the Tennessee Williams New Orleans Literary Festival in March. Some of the book’s European contributors are also trying to organize a gathering in Paris.
For more information about the Nasty Women Poets book launch and open mic night at the Meadows Museum, visit the Facebook event. There will be a sign-in sheet available at the event for those interested in speaking during the open mic session.