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Volunteer Nathan attends a night of poetry and prose at The Windup Space in Baltimore.

The Windup Space in Baltimore’s Station North District is one of that city’s many funky and entertaining venues for art and culture. Publishing Genius had generated some buzz about a Windup Space event, and I already knew the venue’s delights – stellar bar, welcoming ambiance and a stage that’s a mock-up of The Black Lodge from Twin Peaks. The event was too hard to resist. In the past, Potomac Review staff have blogged about the New Mercury Reading Series at the Windup Space. This time, poets and prose writers from Baltimore and Brooklyn displayed their talents.

Styles for “BALTO vs. BKLYN” ranged from experimental to restrained. Around a hundred people filled the tables or stood inside the Windup Space. The soft, low lighting matched the mood. In the readings, I heard echoes of Richard Brautigan and Ben Marcus alike. The stage presence differed too, keeping the performance aspect just as fresh as the literary one.

Bonnie Jones (Baltimore) delivered some of the more memorable moments. She brought modernity to her images, including supermarkets and text translations. One of my favorite lines from Jones was “boxes on boxes is sensationalism.”

Eric Nelson (Brooklyn) read a short story of his about two blue-collar Jersey men at a bar. They chew the fat until their conversation turns dark and confessional. The suspense tightened the audience’s attention, and the prose was a pleasant break from the poetry.

Michael Lala read an excerpt from his poem “In the Gun Cabinet” that reminded me of stream of consciousness. He took short breaths, and not many of them, to give a frantic, hyper-lucid taste to his performance.

After the reading, John Eaton DJ’d as the audience and authors mingled. During the reading, an implicit sense of community permeated the Windup Space; with everybody socializing afterward, the sense of community was even more palpable. I cannot recall a more enjoyable poetry and prose reading.

The evening’s performance was recorded and is available at Onthology/audio.

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