Mardi Gras Poetry Reading Risa Denenberg Shares her new work Whirlwind @ Lesbos
Tuesday Feb. 28th @ 7pm
Risa Denenberg’s Whirlwind @ Lesbos is a collection chronicling one life echoed in many lives, real and imagined: girlhood loves, activism, friendships ravaged by AIDS, a lover lost to suicide, a son lost to a custody battle, the body getting old, the heart congesting. Women’s voices speak across time and place, but are all bound by the same fierce desires, the same heartaches. Whirlwind @ Lesbos is a decisively erotic, explicitly lesbian collection, where the speaker being entered by a lover feels herself to be “a glove/surrounding her like a galaxy.” But even the intensity of passion is tinged by melancholy, a sense of separateness. “I am no more alone than Emily Dickinson,” notes the speaker, as if that fragile link to the most isolated of women poets might provide a measure of comfort. These poems are written at a distance from the speaker’s passionate early self, recalling with a sense of astonishment the time “When I was still trying/to undress the universe/and know her.” That time is no more. “And that has been my story,” says the speaker ruefully in another poem, “not her face/but my hapless life.” Yet despite a life punctuated by pain and loss, these are proud, tender and passionate poems, recounted unflinchingly, with acute lyric intensity.
Risa Denenberg lives a quiet life on the Olympic peninsula where she works as a nurse practitioner. She reviews poetry for the American Journal of Nursing and is an editor at Headmistress Press, an independent publisher of poetry by lesbians. She has published three chapbooks, “what we owe each other” and “In My Exam Room” (The Lives You Touch Publications); and “Blinded by Clouds” (Hyacinth Girls Press); and two full length books of poetry, “Mean Distance from the Sun” (Aldrich Press) and Whirlwind @ Lesbos (Headmistress Press).