* WORD/PLAY * is Medicine Show's writers' reading series, now in its 31st season.
It features 10 to15 readings of varied kinds: e.g. an established & an emerging writer; group readings for literary magazines or other groupings; stagings of a writer's work with. actors/musicians & author present & often performing; Words Worth Singing -- musical settings of poems. A reading committee chooses authors. We also solicit MSS on our website.
A bonus for us - after meeting the company at readings, writers often write for our plays (e.g. Denise Duhamel, Ben Miller, Simon Pettitt, Filip Marinovich.) A few particualrly noteworthy past readers: Allen Ginsberg, Rita Dove, Leonard Cohen, Harry Mathews, Terry MacMillan, Kenneth Koch, Kurtis Lamkin, Linda Gregg, Jack Gilbert, Ron Padgett, Stephanie Strickland, Grace Paley, Gerald Stern, D. Nurkse, Denise Duhamel, Mervyn Taylor, Barry Wallenstein, Meena Alexander, Kimiko Hahn, Susan Sherman, Tuli Kupferberg, Yusef Komanyakaa, Paul Muldoon, John Ashbery, and many you haven't heard of, yet.
Group readings have included Phat'itude, FLARF, Black Lotus, The Unbearables, Hanging Loose Press, Fish Drum Magazine, and student poets from Beacon High School, among others.


This year:

February 8th

Martín Espada & Lauren Schmidt

Workshop 2-5pm; reading 7-9pm

Poetry Like Bread: A Poetry Workshop with Martín Espada

This is a generative workshop, rather than a workshop for the critique of poems.  Participants will generate new work based on the distribution and discussion of poems by Walt Whitman, Pablo Neruda, Grace Paley, Roque Dalton, Marilyn Nelson and Claribel Alegría.  Workshop participants will write on the spot, then share their work, reading aloud to the group (for thunderous applause only). Together we will speak for the rights the others are down upon, prophesy like Cassandra (but be listened to this time), catch sight of the promised land, and prove Dalton’s proposition that poetry, like bread, is for everyone.

The Meaning of the Shovel: A Reading with Martín Espada and Lauren Schmidt
Espada will be reading from his newly-released collection, The Meaning of the Shovel (Smokestack Books, UK).  This collection brings together, for the first time, all of Espada’s poems about work.  Espada has worked as a bouncer in a bar, a primate caretaker, a door-to-door encyclopedia salesman, a gas station attendant and a tenant lawyer.  As a poet, he is an advocate for the Latino community, particularly the immigrant working class, from farm workers sprayed with pesticides in the field to the kitchen staff who died in a restaurant atop the World Trade Center on 9/11.  This book explores the emotional and often invisible landscape of labor: the church janitor who quits in the middle of the night, the cab driver who wants to write a love poem to win back his estranged wife.  The title poem, based on the poet’s experience digging latrines in Nicaragua, embraces the vision of revolutionary change.

Schmidt will be reading from her collections, Two Black Eyes and a Patch of Hair Missing (Main Street Rag) and Psalms from the Dining Room (Wipf and Stock).  Jim Daniels says of Psalms, based on the poet’s experience working in a soup kitchen: “Lauren Schmidt lays down riffs like a fierce blues guitarist, one who knows the power of each carefully chosen note. These poems explode with tough compassion. They sting a little bit—they make us flinch in recognition. Schmidt's sharply etched details tell the powerful stories of her characters' struggles to be seen, to be acknowledged as human. These poems remind us of how close we all are to each other, despite efforts at denial and distance, despite how violence can erode the human spirit. Her characters fight for dignity in the face of everything rigged to keep them down.”


Workshop $25 at the door, cash or check

Reading $7 at the door

Reservations: cbrandt@medicineshowtheatre.org