For four years I have had the pleasure and honor of receiving an invitation to participate in the annual Girl Talk reading at the West Caldwell Library. Every year I have been amazed at the diversity of artistic voices and the range of women-related subjects represented at this women-only event, which features about two-dozen poets who each read one poem. Every year I have also been amazed by the variety of homemade cookies at the reception that follows the reading. Yes, “homemade” cookies because Diane Lockward, the founder of and MC for Girl Talk, does not allow store bought desserts at the reception. Why? Well, read my mini-interview with Diane and you’ll find out!
Diane Lockward: I’d been doing another event—Poetry Festival: A Celebration of Literary Journals—for several years and thought I’d also like to do a different kind of event. The journals festival celebrates the journals and their editors; Girl Talk celebrates the poets, specifically women poets. Since March is Women’s History Month, that seemed like a good time to hold the event. It’s a party with poetry. It began as an experiment, something I thought we’d do once and then be done with it. But people enjoyed it and clearly wanted to do it again, so now we’re in our fifth year! I’d like to add that while men are not invited to read for this event they are invited to join us. And many do.
TC: How do you choose the readers?
DL: I began with poets I knew from workshops and readings—women I’d met over the years. Then after the first year I received email requests to participate. Each year some women who come as audience members ask me to keep them in mind for the next year. So the list of potential readers has grown much longer than the program can accommodate. While I’d like to invite everyone who wants to read, I can’t. Some rotation is necessary. Each year I try to change the lineup a bit to keep the event fresh and bring in new voices. I also try to include women who actively support other poets.
TC: Why do you insist on homemade desserts?
DL:More delicious! There’s nothing special about store-bought cookies. We can have those any day of the week. But when our volunteer baker-poets put out the cookies at the end of the reading, we know we’re getting some special treats. Part of the fun is seeing what cookies make the table. And then, of course, eating them. I want our snacks to be worthy of our party, our celebration of our sisterhood and our poetry. I want them to be as wonderful and original as the poems. I also think that the gorgeous array of cookies encourages the poets and audience members to linger after the reading and engage in some poetry conversation.
Intrigued? Then join us on Saturday, March 24th, from 1:00PM-4:00PM at the West Caldwell Library, 30 Clinton Rd.
West Caldwell, New Jersey.
I’ll be there along with CKP writers Sondra Gash and Wanda Praisner.
For more information about Diane, her books and her many poetry-related activities, visit:
her website: www.dianelockward.com
her blog: www.dianelockward.blogspot.com
and her new book: Temptation by Water