“These are the writers among you,” said Marcus Omari of Poetic Reform Party (PRP) to a crowd of 50 last Saturday night at the Orange County Center for Contemporary Arts (OCCCA). “So make sure you support them.”
He was there to host Bonfire Shout!, a one-night-only event of music, art, and powerful poetry by talented women. PRP’s mission is to “promote the emergence of fresh poetic voices engaged in literary arts,” and it delivered. The performances were explosive and passionate, each dealing with the unique experience of the artist. For example, one of Elizabeth Isela Szekeresh’s poems addressed the connotations surrounding the word “vagina,” evoking laughs and many snaps (yes, there was snaps) of agreement from the audience. Another poet, Danielle Mitchell, shared a nonfiction piece of a dream she had where there was a totalitarian matriarchy, meaning women were superior to men, and all was well (it’s nice to dream).
Like all great literary events, there was cheap wine, art on walls, and good music playing during intermission. The performers were dynamic enough where they could be fierce, vulgar, and vulnerable all within the same breath, providing a wide range of emotions for the crowd to really feel the power of the poems being read aloud. There was a poem about a survivor of a Central American massacre, and another by Sheila J. Sadr condemning the archetypal White Feminist “who is no sister of mine,” after mimicking the snooty tone and scrunched up face White Feminists make when you call them out on their bullshit (someone has to).
“Remember what you saw here tonight,” Omari said near the end. He had all of the poetesses come up on stage and share information on how to get in touch, how to buy their chapbooks, and urged everyone to attend their future events. “Remember what you felt here. It’s going to be difficult to recreate what you felt tonight.”
Snaps to that.