At the final MFA reading of the semester, the two readers were Ben Findlay and Kaelyn Riley, a fiction writer and a poet (respectively). The crowd was rather large for the UCA, and because I was early, I had the pleasure of watching people scramble trying to gather enough chairs for the event. When Ben was introduced to the audience, his ability to describe conditions of poverty was praised, and when he read the story he had prepared, “Pressure,” I could see what the introduction had meant.
“We’re smiling in most of the photographs, even if we knew it wouldn’t last…She’s starting to look past me, she’s not looking for a better solution, she’s looking for a better equation.”
The story recounted the tale of a young man named George who works for a glass business, desperately trying to get home to his girlfriend but being constantly held up by the routine of getting paid by a particularly difficult auto repair shop owner. Through his eyes, we see the conditions of poverty and how unfortunate it is to have kidney stones (which made the audience laugh a lot), as well as the toll this lifestyle can have on a relationship. I was so enthralled throughout the entire thing that I decided rather than take careful notes of lines that I liked that I would just record it so I could pay more attention.
I had to do the same thing for the next reader, Kaelyn Riley. As many people filed out of the UCA as soon as Ben finished, I wondered why anyone would want to miss the superb poet that came on stage. While it’s much harder to summarize poetry, many of the ideas presented in Riley’s poetry revolved around what it is to be a woman and what it is to say what you mean, though that does not do her poetry justice. As I walked home that night, I pondered these ideas.
“’I’d forgotten autumn here,’ I say, lamely, anything, and loathe the poetry of it. The block that we just walked is a termination of the light.”
The final reading of the semester was well worth the time the week before Dead Week. These two readers provided an escape from the grueling hours of studying and writing essays, and I certainly look forward to the series continuing in the fall, even if I will not be writing about them any longer.