“People Have to Breathe Where They Live”: Mary Szybist and Kevin Young Inprint Reading
February 25, 2015, by Doni Wilson
Monday night is rainy, cold—a good night for poems.
The weather keeps some people away, but not everyone. Inprint executive director Rich Levy introduces Mary Szybist and Kevin Young as the readers for the Inprint Margarett Root Brown Reading Series in Cullen Theater at Wortham Center. Szybist has won a National Book Award, Young an American Book Award. I see some of my current students in the audience: I am happy they have come. You don’t get a double billing like this every day. Each poet has a theme it seems: Mary, ascension, Kevin, grief. There are difficulties with both, yet also acceptances. You don’t have to resolve everything in order to understand it better. Sometimes understanding it better is as good as it gets.
Szybist reads from Incarnadine, which won the National Book Award. Before you even open the door to her poetry, you think of crimson, the red that is more luminous than cherry red, the red of Botticelli’s angels, the red of the Virgin Mary. Szybist is preparing you for what is her obsession: the strangeness of the annunciation, the anticipatory moments not only of the biblical Mary, but of our own every day lives, in which “dutiful” acquiescence has profound consequences. Her poems circle around the scene of the Annunciation—but do not linger there, taking the notion of expectancy to every realm, both immediate and imaginative.
Before you even open the door to her poetry, you think of crimson, the red that is more luminous than cherry red, the red of Botticelli’s angels, the red of the Virgin Mary.