The first South End Writes guest of the season, Danielle Legros Georges, found a small but attentive audience that, by the time the reading was over, had become mesmerized by the poet's performance. Novelist Sue Miller, who introduced the Haitian-born writer she first met while serving with her on the Pen New England board, characterized the poet's 2001 book, Maroon, as one "it was necessary to have," the poems giving her "more pleasure each time I read them." Miller described Legros Georges's poems as deeply varied in both tone and subject, ranging from the ironic to the elegiac to the openly political; from the diaspora of the immigrant experience to the simple act of showering with a lover. Legros Georges read from Maroon, as well as newer work, including poetry by the 19th-century Haitian poet, Ida Faubert. Legros Georges, who is also an essayist and translator, read these first in French, then in English. Faubert was a daughter of a colonial Haitian president in the late 19th century, and is considered a major author in Haiti's literary cannon. She received the prestigious Chevalier de l'Ordre Honneur et Merite from the French government in 1956.
A powerful rendition of a poem Legros Georges composed about the catastrophic 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Intersection, consisted of one phrase, read some dozen times at varied intensity, with the poet's hands slowly rising. The phrase was, The earth shook; a portal opened; I walked though it. For those few minutes, the audience walked through the portal with Legros Georges, known for her dynamic performances, into the ash and earth.
The South End Writes has booked another poet, Colin D. Halloran, who served with the U.S. Army in Afghanistan in 2006. A former public school teacher, Colin works with students and teachers to find ways in which poetry can inform the media’s and historians’ portrayals of war. His debut collection of poems, Shortly Thereafter, won the 2012 Main Street Rag Poetry Book Award. His reading is scheduled for Tuesday, April 8, 2014.