In the following Q&A, Jackie Anne Morrill—writer, performer, and teacher—discusses poetry readings in the Worcester area, performance poetry, and publishing, as well as her own works. You can read Jackie Anne Morrill’s two poems, “Cantaloupe as a cure-all, or how I know my mother” and “Letter from a Barn Burner,” in The Worcester Review Volume XXXV.
Can you discuss The Round Room Women’s Writing Series and what makes it unique? What advice do you have for students and faculty wanting to follow in your footsteps on their own campuses?
The Round Room Women's Writing Series was an idea that my wife had actually come up with. It was, I think, fifty percent an excuse to have people over for food and drink and poetry, and the other half was to create a space inspired by, hosted by, created by, and performed in by women. There are so many incredible women writers in the Worcester area and, yet, it is most definitely a male-dominated scene. This was a chance for all of us girls to come together. The requirements for a reader started out very simple: you must be a woman or identify as a woman somehow. This requirement quickly changed after there was quite a bit of interest from men to read at the open mike. So, we tweaked the reading just a little and, as long as the male reader first read a piece by a woman, he could perform whatever else after that. The first year was a blast. My wife is a fantastic organizer and host—she has a lot of spunk, a ton of personality, and I think that is what kept it going even in the very slow winter months. This year has been tough. We've had a few really great performers, two of whom were musicians, but it has been so busy, and it is tricky trying to keep an audience going if you're not one hundred percent in it from the beginning. As the host and booker this year, I've put the reading on hiatus for the rest of the summer just to try and catch up on other things.
My best advice for those students and faculty wanting to put something like this together in their own homes would be to just have fun with it. When it becomes too serious, when you reach a point at which you don't want to hold the reading anymore, take a break. Having a reading in your home is different from holding it at a bar or coffee shop in that you have so much more to prepare for: cleaning the whole space, chair set-up, food, drink, trying to scrounge up enough cash to please the feature, booking the feature. The list goes on. Be prepared to work for it.
Can you discuss the relationship between sound and sense as it pertains to “Cantaloupe as a cure-all, or how I know my mother?”