This summer, my wife and I relocated to Seattle. Our first night exploring the city, we attended Paige Lewis’ and Kaveh Akbar’s reading, A Celebration of Love Poems, hosted in a crowded basement at The Elliot Bay Book Company.
The range of readings were sweeping. Richard Cardillo—a story-teller, not a poet— told of meeting his lover in a New York City club just after leaving a monastery. Akbar’s former high school teacher read about fatherhood. His teenage daughter immediately followed with a poem of her own. Lewis read Nicole Sealey’s Object Permanence, as the front-row recited the poem along with her.
While the reading was a marital celebration, it also encapsulated everything summer—romance, family, exploration, and the commitment to something new, whether that be alone or with a partner.
This selection of reading for PWA gets to the heart of summer.
And then I want to know when a field is intentional,
How to separate a field from a meadow or a pasture or a valley: I want to know which is wild.
A lone tree in a field is unnatural and so is a person alone in summer—or is it? With the help of a dendrologist, Sheiner’s poem explores aloneness. However, Sheiner’s careful to note, this is not a poem about loneliness. It is about intended seclusion during a period of exploration.
It is truth that can’t be untruthed—
That someone will love you many times no matter how tired they are,
The way a blade of grass takes itself not too seriously
And grinds out other blades of grass
“Someone will walk with you down the summer path,” writes Lippman. Because it is summer, this is true. Someone is waiting to explore a new city with you, to hold a reading for you in a basement, waiting to “stick her hand through a plate glass window / to love you”.
That summer was a man
gathering fury like weather
was a sweaty ring
Gaskin’s poem “Pennies” skips from stanza to stanza like a stone across the lake. The line breaks jump with a childish fever. It’s a summer so exciting that years later, all you can hold is a series of sensations bleeding into each other.