Morgenstern Books will present a poetry and prose reading to benefit Women Writing For (a) Change Bloomington at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at their location on South Auto Mall Road.
Women Writing for (a) Change Bloomington is a local organization that offers writing retreats, book groups and writing and leadership classes for all ages and genders. The organization’s mission is to create a safe space for individuals to nurture, develop and celebrate their artistic voices, according to their website.
The event is completely free to the public and all are welcome. A portion of book sales from the reading will be donated to Women Writing for (a) Change.
Local poet Merle Bachman will read from her personal memoir, “Thank You for Being,” a collection of letters, journals and poems that led to Bachman becoming the woman and poet she is today. In the memoir, Bachman explores her Jewish upbringing and culture in Albany, New York, 1970s feminism, her studies in Jerusalem and her time at Brandeis University, according to Bachman’s website.
Laura Lasuertmer, assistant creative director and facilitator for Women Writing for (a) Change, will also read at the event. Lasuertmer joined Women Writing for (a) Change in 2010 to take writing classes. Since then, she’s grown more involved with the organization, and just finished her first year as assistant creative director.
Lasuertmer said that working with the group has made her writing come alive.
“There's something that happens when you have a group of people who are expecting to hear the next part of a story, or are invested in what's happening in your writing life,” Lasuertmer said. “That motivates me to write. I needed that extra motivation and encouragement.”
Lasuertmer said she typically writes personal essays for newsletters, zines or Catholic Worker newspapers, but has been exploring short stories and fiction more recently. She said the story she’ll be reading at the event, ”A Light in the Woods,” was inspired by working with young, creative students from Women Writing for (a) Change.
“There's a lot of imagination and sort of anything is possible, magical realism,” Lasuertmer said. “Crazy things happen in their writing, so a character popped into my head.”
Rebecca Kaiser Gibson, a New Hampshire based poet and former professor of poetry at Tufts University, will read from her latest book “Girl as Birch” at the event.
In her book, Gibson likens girlhood to the movement of birches. During strong winds, birches will bend and arch in the motion of the air, much like girls and women alter themselves to accommodate or conform to others as they grow, Gibson said.
The use of the word “girl” rather than woman is intentional, Gibson said.
“Growing up in the ‘60s and ‘70s, we were not supposed to use the word ‘girl’,” Gibson said. “At least that's what I picked up. We were women, women's liberation was happening. So to come to a place where I suddenly could sort of identify, having been a girl, there’s just a sense of connection.”
Gibson said that she hopes to foster that sense of connection among the audience at the reading between both younger and older generations of women. She said she dislikes the “back in my day” idea that one generation is better than the next, and thinks everyone will be able to recognize the experience.
Samantha Eads, co-owner of Morgenstern Books, said she’s glad to support Women Writing for (a) Change.
”I think we all have something to say,” Eads said. “So the fact that they're encouraging new writers to speak about their experience, about their thoughts and feelings, is just incredibly valuable, not only for the writers themselves, but also for the community as a whole.”
For Eads, events like this highlight the great work being done by Bloomington creatives and local organizers.
“I really like to create opportunities where we not only welcome people into the bookstore, and help showcase the work of creative people, but also create events that help give back to the community and show our appreciation for all the great work that our [not for] profits in the area are doing,” Eads said.