May’s Perch Pub celebrated Lynn Levin’s newest book of poetry, Miss Plastique, with a reading by Hayden Saunier and Lynn herself. Kathy Volk Miller led the introductions, citing not only Hayden’s literary accomplishments, but also her voice over work. Of particular interest? Hayden voiced a broken Ikea stove, which KVM joked we’ll have to take her word for.
Hayden opened the reading with the title poem of her book Say Luck, which won the Gell Poetry Prize and is scheduled for release in November of this year. She followed with a poem titled ” Day Players in the Makeup Trailer,” which humorously explored the movie industry and those individuals trying to make it — particularly the extras, who hope they’ll get one line, even if they’re playing a corpse. She then went on to read “Rx,” telling us, “You’ll never get your ass back in those pants” and asking, “Do you want Zoloft or an Ativan?”
With “Chasm” she had us stumbling into ethics class, drunk off of Blue Nun Wine (do they even make Blue Nun Wine anymore?), and “Rules for Bacteria,” from a book coauthored by Lynn Levin and Val Fox, reminded us that if you kill your host, you’ll have nowhere to live.
Hayden’s closing poem “The Last of It” featured Terriers, who she reveals are named for Earth, and who she deems the Turkey Vulture Cleanup Crew. The turkey vulture carcass stays with her, as she reads, “I’m not sure I’ve seen the last of it.” We and everyone at the reading knew we had not seen the last of Hayden.
The guest of honor, Lynn Levin, was equally unforgettable, especially to KVM, who in her introduction of Lynn told a story about Lynn walking into a crowded, yet silent reading party and declaring “This is what I’m talking about!” KVM said that Lynn entrance was so perfect that everyone broke into applause. Appropriately, that’s just what the Perch Pub crowd did as Lynn approached the mic.
She opened with the title poem of her new book, and we loved every moment, enjoying it as much as the first time we heard it on NPR’s Radio Times. We had both the Miss and the King, as “Miss Plastique” gave way to “Faux King in the Parking Lot,” Lynn joking, “It sounds naughty if you say it too much.” Images of Elvis impersonators, oil stains on linen skirts, and silver studs on white suits hung in the air at Perch, and we couldn’t help but feel baaaad as we ran the poem’s title over our tongues one more time.
Her works were not only clever poetically, but spoke to themes and history far bigger than the words on the page. “The Foundations of Poetry,” which Lynn informed us has a double meaning with ladies’ foundation garments, featured a scene with Mrs. Hays, who Lynn names in Miss Plastique’s dedication. In the scene, Mrs. Hays asks the ninth-grade boys to leave the classroom and advises the remaining ladies not to expose their undergarments, rather, “You should expose/your thoughts and feelings/when you write poems.”
“Dippity-Do” highlighted the classic hair gel that helped every girl and boy get their hair right, but also touched on their insecurities. Lynn read “I hated my hair and wished it were straight” and “I wanted my hair to be smooth/so the popular girls/would talk to me at school.” These types of images echoed throughout Miss Plastique, tying in themes of history, society, femininity, and image, among many others.
One of the final poems of the evening, “The House on Blackberry Lane,” left our minds racing with images and sounds, an exhilaration that carried through the whole night, through every poem, and through everyone in the crowd.