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Rogue Festival Performance: Poetry and Prose from Fresno State
Why go to the San Joaquin Literary Association's 2008 Rogue Festival performance, “Poetry and Prose from Fresno State”? I interviewed a few of the twelve writers who are set to perform in this year's upcoming festival, and I think their answers to my questions will make it clear to you why you shouldn't miss this three-night performance.
After explaining that a rogue is commonly defined as being a “deceitful and unreliable scoundrel,” I asked poet Liz Scheid what's “rogue” about her writing. She responded, “A rogue is also defined as a tramp. I prefer to think of my muse in this light.” If Scheid's seemingly bawdy answer has piqued your interest as much as it has mine, you may want to arrive early to the show so I don't steal your seat in the front row at the Spectrum Gallery. If, however, you're still not sure you'd like to fly the friendly writing skies with the fine Fresno State MFA Rogue readers or wrestle me for a good seat at the gallery, keep reading.
When I asked creative nonfiction writer and upcoming Rogue reader Lisa Lieberman what form her writing would take if it were an animal (please, don't question my genius), she answered, “A dead skunk in the middle of the road, causing a big stink and slowing down traffic.” I've read Lieberman's nonfiction before, and I can vouch for the potency of her skunkish essays. For those of you who don't know, the infamous “They” claim that a skunk's reputation precedes it. In Lieberman's case, this adage certainly rings true. Lieberman is a writer of the taboo, and if you're lucky, you'll find an open seat at the reading in time to ogle the striped animal perfuming its truths in black letters across a white page.
By now you know that I asked the writers to turn their poetry and prose into animals, but I also asked them describe what their writing would look like if they turned it into art. Fiction writer Kristin Fitzpatrick turned her writing into a drawing of a quilt, “a tattered quilt with frayed edges and Kool-Aid stains and burn holes. Exposed batting, rhombus-shaped swatches of muddy jeans and holey socks: patterns of disparate nothings that I can only validate by stitching them together. Eruptions in seams as individual fragments try to act neighborly. Sum, parts. That sort of thing.” Who wouldn't want to cuddle up to that kind of writing?
Maybe you've never been to a reading before. Maybe you're thinking, “I didn't know I could cuddle up to writing at a reading.” You're not sure if you'll be comfortable, let alone impressed. Well, you'll be impressed. This gig always impresses the audience because the writers truly do shine. In fact, to prove my point, I offer you evidence. Upcoming Rogue reader poet James Tyner explained to me, “After a reading once, someone asked where they could buy my book. I told them to try Borders in about fifteen years.”
What? You still aren't convinced you need to hear these Rogue readers? You're kidding me! But some of them have a killer sense of humor, which you'll want to experience in person, I assure you. For instance, when I asked fiction writer Elizabeth Martin what's rogue about her writing, she said, “My writing is ‘rogue' because it ‘steals' your heart. Also, it breaks into your house and rearranges your furniture while you're out. You come home and you're like, ‘D*mn, b*tch, where's my coffee table?”
You want your furniture back? You'd better talk to Elizabeth Martin after the reading.
By now, I know you want to see “Poetry and Prose from Fresno State.” I know you want Liz Schied's alluring poetry tickling your ears. You want Lisa Lieberman's writing to arrest your senses. Yes, you want to wrap Kristin Fitzpatrick's quilted stories around your shoulders, and you most definitely want your coffee table back. Like I said, you're going to have to talk to Elizabeth Martin about that.
Oh, one nearly final thought. You should know that these Rogue readers are all going to be famous some day. Hear them read at Rogue, meet them now, and when their books hit the shelves, hopefully sooner than fifteen years from now, you can be that person who boasts to his or her friends, “I know that author! Her writing took my coffee table once,” or, “I heard her read at the 2008 Rogue Festival in Fresno. Her writing totally stunk—but in a good way!”
Yes, you can be a lucky “Poetry and Prose from Fresno State” audience member. All you have to do is bring four bucks (a real steal!) to the Spectrum Gallery in Fresno's Tower District, 608 E. Olive Ave. on the following dates at the following times. You won't be disappointed.
Friday, February 29th at 8:45pm
Lisa Lieberman, James Tyner, Elizabeth Martin, Eric Parker
Saturday, March 1st at 5pm
Courtney Miller, Steven Howland, Carol Vitali, Candace Duerksen
Sunday, March 2nd at 7:30pm
Liz Scheid, Carol Claassen, Kristin Fitzpatrick, Marcus Chinn
Finally, since the San Joaquin Literary Association (the Fresno State club responsible for this incredible Rogue performance) respects and admires the Fresno State literary group Pachuco Children Hurl Stones, the SJLA would like you to go see the play the group's putting on at Rogue. Check out the website: http://www.myspace.com/pachucochildren
Thank you, dear readers. See you at the Rogue Festival!