Feminist Classic Goosebumps in P-town
Author: Kate Clinton
August 23, 2010
This morning in Ptown, I actually had goose bumps. The days are cooler; sunsets are earlier. What can you do?
What we have been doing all summer is having Feminist Classics Readings every Saturday night at nine p.m. on Commercial Street between our wonderful City Video store and Spiritus.
The idea started simply enough. My galpal told visiting friends she was reading the re-issue of Simone DeBeauvoir’s The Second Sex. A laconic, ironic friend from South Carolina suggested we do dramatic readings from it on the street. My galpal of course wanted to do a marathon reading of the whole thing. We worried it could go into early November.
We started simply. We brought some classics – Adrienne Rich, Mary Daly, Audre Lourde, Judith Butler – and classic collections The Lesbian Reader, The Butch Femme Reader and poetry collections. We read short selections, standing on the white wrought iron chair in front of an ATM. We invited passersby to pick something to read. We filmed the readings with a flip-cam. Volunteers held up our 8X10 sign handmade by Vanessa from the video store.
As the Saturdays went on, people brought their own favorite classics. There were regulars. Women read. Men read. Crowds gathered to see what was happening, stayed or walked on. There was one hook-up, that we know of. One night, twenty-one different readers read the twenty-one love poems of Adrienne Rich. Another night, a seven-year-old girl sang “You Are My Sunshine.” During Bear Week, we read excerpts from “The Myth of the Vaginal Orgasm.” Bears sitting on the curb at Spiritus listened curiously and munched contentedly.
It’s a happening. And a gathering. Last week the official town crier lent his stentorian voice to the proceedings. A violinist gave musical accompaniment to some poems. Young standout readers gave gripping interpretations of the words so many of us grew up on.
As the summer winds down, we encourage others to start readings in their own hometowns. Once a month outside the farmer’s market, a local coffee spot or gathering place. We’re thinking of something at Lincoln Center. Keep it simple. It creates its own complexities.
This Saturday, I plan to read Gloria Steinem’s classic, “If Men Could Menstruate.”
Photo: Donna F. Aceto