Female poets step up to the mic

Could be verse
By MEGAN GRUMBLING  |  February 8, 2012

While down in Cambridge last August with a team of Portland poets for the semi-finals of the National Poetry Slam, Tricia Henley Pryce says, she never saw more than one woman up on stage at a time. It occurred to Pryce, poet and proprietor of Mama's CrowBar, that here were myriad men performing poems about their mothers' abusive relationships, their girlfriends' abortions, and that these were women's stories. But where were all the women?

Pryce and some like-minded friends started a women's poetry workshop, and soon afterward got involved with the Women of the World Poetry Slam, with Portland poet Sarah Lynn Herklots winning the opportunity to represent Maine at the national competition. Now Pryce has conceived a dramatic performance, Weaving Conversations with the Sky, to celebrate female poets from both history and our own modern Portland. The show, which runs twice on Monday, February 13, also serves as a fund raiser to send slam artist Herklots to Denver as Maine's representative in the 2012 Women of the World Poetry Slam.

The show will open with renowned female poets of yore portrayed in vignettes by local actresses, including Shannara Gillman as ancient Greek sensualist Sappho, Lulu Hawkes as African-American slave Phyllis Wheatley, and Tara Haskell as the conscience-driven Elizabeth Barrett Browning. The Brontë sisters will also be represented — with Vanessa Romanoff as Anne, Heather Elizabeth Irish as Charlotte, and Jessica McKee as Emily — as well as Brigid Sinclair's preternatural Belle of Amherst, Emily Dickinson, and a battle-in-verse between Sylvia Plath (April Singley) and Anne Sexton (Mariah Bergeron). Act two will feature local poets, including Herklots, as well as Stonecoast MFA director Annie Finch, playwright Carolyn Gage, Portland slam poet Heidi Therrien, and host of WMPG's Mama Africa Show Keita Whitten.

Weaving Conversations with the Sky | Feb 13 @ 1 & 7 pm | at the St. Lawrence Arts Center, Portland | $12 matinee; $15 evening; $10 seniors/students | 207.775.5568 | stlawrencearts.org

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