Last night, listening to the “Women in the Avant Garde” cd that Justin Sirois of Narrow House Records so generously gave me two weeks ago. I decided on track three, since I briefly corresponded with Carol Mirakove awhile back, and I wanted to hear her work.
Sleep I did not. Mirakove is an excellent reader first of all, very confident and controlled. She speeds up and slows down and accentuates in exactly the right spots. She’s able to be melodic while handling heavy subject matter. I am not a big fan of readings, even my own, I admit. I get antsy. But Mirakove’s comfort and familiarity with her own work lends an exceptional quality that made me forget I was listening to a reading. She is an excellent performer because one forgets she is performing.
The work speaks for itself. Mirakove is able to strike familiar chords with day-to-day references while also being political, and that’s political as in “the personal is political” as well as the overtly political. This is no easy feat. Political poetry often borders on the didactic, and I left the church years ago. Mirakove is definitely not preachy.
She reminds us of the atrocities we (okay, I) so easily forget. For example, Mirakove reminded me of the imprisonment of so many Japanese & Japanese Americans, who had long been U.S. occupants, after Pearl Harbor — I didn’t remember the number being in excess of 100,000 — and then drew my attention to the governments’ not-so-long-ago hunt for Muslims already living peacefully in this country. Hence, the official view on racial profiling went public — and many citizens began their own version of the practice … but that’s another story.
Anyway, I was super-impressed by Mirakove’s reading and plan to listen again later today. If you want a taste, listen to sample tracks here. I also mean to research Carol Mirakove’s books and order one soon — any suggestions?
Amy King is the recipient of the 2015 Winner of the Women’s National Book Association (WNBA) Award. Her latest collection, The Missing Museum, is a winner of the 2015 Tarpaulin Sky Book Prize. She serves on the executive board of VIDA: Women in Literary Arts and is co-editing with Heidi Lynn Staples the anthology Big Energy Poets of the Anthropocene: When Ecopoets Think Climate Change. She also co-edited the anthology Bettering American Poetry 2015 and is a professor of creative writing at SUNY Nassau Community College.