Although not originally scheduled to read until well into next year, when our intended reader needed to bow out, Casey FitzSimons graciously accepted the last-minute shuffle. And gracious is only one of the words that describes the result. Add powerful, haunting, and fun.
Of course, Casey is a Willow Glen regular. I’m obviously not alone in finding it wonderful to have one of “our own” feature: the audience was even larger and livlier than usual! After all, we know what to expect. As it turns out, expectations were right, and wrong.
Casey was brilliant, as usual, but took the opportunity of the extended reading time to break with the usual open-mic constraints. To wit, she began with a long poem about the recent Japanese tsunami. It was a story that required room to assault and soothe, to grieve and grow. And the change from Casey’s usual style and mood was a surprise that made it all the more startling and gripping.
As with her first poem, many of her poems were about loss. As she said, “even the love poems.” Though, in the pure light of poetry, the term loss can mean a losing of oneself to the full, giddy absurdity of trust, faith, and hope. And of course, there were poems of pure mirth.
Casey brought her recent chapbooks (she tries to assemble one each year). She also brought copies of a poetic broadside whose proceeds benefit Doctors Without Borders. Jewels, all. If you didn’t pick them up, ask her anytime.
Reported by Harry Lafnear