The hot Boston sun beat down on the audience through the translucent panels of the tent on Stokes Lawn as the women behind The Laughing Medusa illuminated the works of its latest magazine edition. Bailey Flynn, editor-in-chief and MCAS ’18, welcomed guests to the magazine’s poetry reading and detailed the magazine’s success this year, which included a feature in The Heights, the launch of the publication’s website, and the most submissions the publication has ever received.
Erica Macri, MCAS ’20, was first to take the stage to read her poem “Lilith.” The poem discussed the Biblical tale of Lilith as the poet pondered, “free Lilith, were you forced to breach / Eden’s gates—or did they beg you to leave?” The female artist read the eloquent poem with a distinct intensity in her voice.
Margherita Bassi, MCAS ’20, read two of her poems, “Of My Likeness” and “Paper Boats.” The first was apologetic in tone and earned loud snaps from the audience, while the second focused on a man selling jewelry in Rishikesh, India.
Taylor Puccini, CSOM ’19, read two poems as well, “Loneliness, or dreaming” and “Learning How To Mother.” The first slipped into the realm between sleep and wake, basking in the ethereal temptation of a “honey dream.” Puccini then read a poem about following the example in her mother but hardly succeeding, left with one dead plant the speaker failed to nurture.
Ji-Won Ha, MCAS ’21, stepped in to read poems by council member Sonja Goldman, LSOE ’19, who recently had surgery and could not be present for the event. Goldman’s “love leaving your body” endowed teardrops with a creative new title, while “Shoshone, Idaho” depicted a young girl’s first brush with smoking and the resulting anguish for innocence lost.
Opting to read older work as well as pieces from the latest Laughing Medusa release, Claire Kramer, LSOE ’18, read three poems: “Dancing in the Dark,” “Gravel Roads,” and “Around Me.” The first recalled a warm friendship “torn from” the speaker, while “Gravel Roads” offered a recollection of a bumpy car ride. “Around Me,” a piece from the publication’s most recent magazine, focused on the small details of life that can demonstrate the passing of time.
Rose Dornon, LSOE ’20, read the poetry of council member Kate Oksen, MCAS ’19. The speaker told the story of a frail, flea-ridden dog getting a bath during “siphonaptera vs. bath.” The frustrated speaker proclaimed, “they’re so f—king small but they could take me to the ground.” Oksen’s “SIXTY-SIX PERCENT JUICE” detailed the significance of different digits and earned a laugh from the crowd when Dornon read the first line: “if a juice box is only 66 percent juice what the hell is the other 34 percent?”
Julia Nagle, MCAS ’20, presented “Thanks,” “Optics,” and “Ode to the Vacuum.” The first was a dramatic piece that detailed a dad’s reluctance to say “thanks,” a word “He never let past his lips. / Or if he did, / he spat it.” “Optics” discussed a “twisted” self image, while “Ode to the Vacuum” detailed a young girl’s love for the cleaning tool.
“Little Voyager” and “Variegated” were written and read by Christin Snyder, MCAS ’20. The first commented on the loneliness of “Voyager 1, which won’t meet another celestial body for 40,000 years.” “Variegated,” meanwhile, detailed a girl’s visit to the optometrist.
Maggie McQuade, MCAS ’20, read the works of Jordan Tessler, MCAS ’19. “If Words Could Paint a Woman” included a collection of imaginative phrases that describe a loving mother and fascinating teacher, while “Tumbleweeds” compared “Wind Witches” to girls who are “pushed outside” to find a bad man.
Emma Winters, MCAS ’18, read “Water,” a poem about the speaker’s different notable encounters with water at a beach, on a bank, and near a pond. “I Don’t Have A Valentine This Year” was a commentary on hookup culture that compared the feelings involved with a sexual encounter to an illness.
Flynn took the stage to read her poetry for the last time as editor-in-chief. The speaker read “Before The Bombs Come,” a powerful poem that discussed love as a solace for the speaker who lives through war with the lines: “How you will make the daily sirens into a song, / and we will dance in the kitchen / while the city wails for cover.”
The last presenter, Celia Smithmier, MCAS ’20, closed the poetry reading with “bacteria” and “common sense.” “bacteria” painted a picture of a time-telling blackbird in New Orleans, while “common sense” recalled the speaker’s grandfather’s jar of common sense and “delusion[al]” ideals that “God was a lie made for a rich, / but art was a truth made for the poor.”
To close the hour of poetry, Flynn took the stage one last time to thank everyone for attending the event and to introduce Puccini as the new editor-in-chief of The Laughing Medusa. Flynn expressed the gratitude the artists felt for the audience.
“A lot of times writing can be a very solitary activity, but we want to make that space kind of physical,” Flynn said.
Featured Image by Alex Gaynor / Heights Staff