The excitement was obvious in the small basement of Brookline Booksmith. In several small rows of two or three or five chairs, the people were talking intently before the readings began. The Breakwater Reading Series features works of MFA candidates at universities and colleges all around Boston. Students hail from Boston University, Emerson College, and University of Massachusetts- Boston, although the audience ranges from children to the elderly. Readings are held at 7pm every third Friday of the month at Brookline Booksmith.
The first reader of the night was A.J. Odasso from Boston University. She has been featured in a number of publications as well as several nominations for awards such as the 2010 London New Poetry Award and the 2011 Forward Prize to name some. Odasso read two older poems as well as four new ones, two of which had three parts. With a more serious tone, this young poet set the expectations high for those to come next.
Fulfilling these expectations was the next author, Juliana Kruis as she read from her memoir Good Pity. The Emerson student told part of the story of her childhood, her mothers gambling addiction and her fathers abuse and forced absence as he was in the air force, from the perspective of her as a child. Kruis captured the room by allowing her work to speak for itself with striking lines like when her mother told her “I just want to lay here and die”, and the nostalgia seemed filled with anger over the lost childhood.
Lightening the mood of the room, Dean Shaban delivered an opening poem by Shel Silverstein and quotes from Mitch Hedberg. Shaban read seven of his own poems, one of which was a found poem, a poem that is created by combining the words of others into something new. Shaban also discussed his love for children’s poetry and books but reading two chapters from the children’s book he is writing. Shaban was able to keep the room laughing and thoroughly enjoying work meant for children, a task not everyone is able to accomplish.
Following Shaban was Ryan Kim, a MFA candidate from UMass Boston. Kim was able to create an environment in which the audience laughed, related, pitied, and hung onto his words as he read his story Unsticking. The story told his adventures with his girlfriend, Mary, and how it becomes more and more difficult to leave someone the longer you are together, despite any betrayals. Kim was able to make us burst out laughing with lines like “that is so middle class”, a direct quote from a girl he was trying to seduce. In the next paragraph Kim was able to make the audience audibly call out “aw” as he discussed the struggles of long term relationships.
The final reader of the night was Lori Zimmerman also an MFA candidate at UMass Boston. Zimmerman read two series of poems. The first consisted of four pomes describing bad homes, the most relatable of which was when she described the bed. Her second series of two poems was apart of her thesis. Zimmerman was able to continue the humor and the seriousness of the previous authors.
As the readings finished, all those present were invited to drinks down the street, however not being 21 quite yet, I opted to explore the independent bookstore. I must admit I have fallen in love with Brookline Booksmith. The twinkle lights hanging from the ceiling, the wide collection of books, and the sliding ladders on the walls, created an amazing environment. The wide range of books and merchandise offered, and the amazing pieces of poetry and prose read ensured my return for the next Breakwater event on March 25th.
Find out more about Breakwater’s upcoming evens by liking their Facebook page or visiting their website.
By Heather Marshall