[by Ben Ficklin]
Abandonment. Familial deceit. Sex. Self-determined empowerment. Feminism.“Father sized holes” as Michelle Peñaloza put it. These constant themes unified a diverse group of readers at Literary Arts on October 2nd. Claudia Castro Luna, Loreen Lilynn Lee, Michelle Peñaloza, and Gigi Rosenberg are all members of the 2014 group of Jack Straw Writers. These four constitute one quarter of the annually renewed group.
Jack Straw Cultural Center is a Seattle based organization that supports writers and visual artists. They aspire to give writers confidence doing live and recorded readings – with a focus on radio. Each year a new curator judges and decides on the group of writers. This years curator was Felicia Gonzalez. She accompanied and introduced the evening’s readers.
Gigi Rosenberg is a Portlander and coaches artist on the entrepreneurial side of creativity. She read from her not-yet-finished book, How I Lost My Inheritance. She dissected how love can be found in objects, such as clocks and houses. Her relatives protested US involvement in World War One and were alienated from their orthodox Jewish family.
Claudia Castro Luna followed the books of her father, a Salvadoran professor, as they lead to exile and memory. She began her performance with a poignant chastisement of US interference in the Salvadoran civil war. She brought the audience to laughs and contemplation with her list of pupusa recipes (each style complete with social criticism).
Loreen Lilyn Lee was raw. She held nothing back. This honestly was humorous and heartbreaking. Nobody in attendance will be repeating her stories – she asked that all the details were confidential.
Michelle Peñaloza received her MFA from the University of Oregon. Prior to her reading, she thanked Literary Arts for a fellowship she had received while a student. She read several poems from her current project Landscape /Heartbreak. Peñaloza followed people to places in Seattle where their hearts were broken. She transformed each experience into poems for this forthcoming book from Two Sylvias Press in Spring 2015.
Literary Arts thanks all the evening’s readers and everyone involved with Jack Straw Writers. Thanks to everyone in audience for filling the house and creating such an intimate and powerful atmosphere.
This post was written by Ben Ficklin, Literary Arts intern.