By Colby Smith
“They say to be lucky, you just have to pay more attention,” poet Catherine Barnett joked as she realized that the microphone had been slowly dropping away from her as she read her work at the Writers’ Here and Now event on Wednesday.
“I mean, I am very lucky. But this isn’t one of those times.”
The moment remained one of the few lighthearted points in an evening otherwise consisting of soft poetry and poignant fiction writing.
The event, the first in the Writers’ Here and Now series for 2012, was hosted in the Gildenhorn Recital Hall in the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center. Ceiling damage in Tawes Hall prevented the use of the standard venue, Ulrich Recital Hall.
This was not the only change. In lieu of the usual Q-and-A session with the featured writers, the Writers’ House hosted an open mic in the Dorchester Basement.
The open mic consisted of a wide range of performances, including poetry, prose and music. Senior Dylan Bargteil read “All We Ever Talk About is the Weather,” a poem about his relationship with his mother, and senior Nick Lyle read an excerpt from his sharply funny short story “Barbecue.”
After light refreshments at Dorchester Hall, the reading began at the Gildenhorn Recital Hall.
Catherine Barnett, who is currently teaching poetry at Barnard College in New York City, took the stage first.
“Poetry tries to gather what has been scattered,” she said.
The soft-spoken Barnett read a long series of short poems from her 2003 book Into Perfect Spheres Such Holes Are Pierced, which won the Beatrice Hawley award.
The other feature was acclaimed fiction writer Colm Tóibín. While Tóibín, an Irish native, has a body of work consisting of 34 books, he chose to read a story called “The Street” from his most recent collection of short stories, The Empty Family, published in 2010.
“Now, if I read this whole thing, it will take two hours,” Tóibín said, explaining that he would read four excerpts from the story and describe what happened in between.
“The sections in between could probably have been cut out of the story, but it’s too late now,” Tóibín joked.
The story followed the lives of two gay Pakistani immigrants living in Barcelona, Spain.
View more photos of Writers’ Here and Now here.