This is a messy little love letter for the tremendously loveable BIG BIG MESS READING SERIES in Akron, Ohio. Akron may already be known for its tires and its tireless love of grit and rust and sweat, but the BIG BIG MESS deserves its own corner of the proverbial postcard. This reading series, which is one of the most giddy and eclectic I’ve witnessed, was founded by Nick Sturm, and is presently curated by Alexis Pope and Mike Krutel. It’s a monthly affair, and takes place at Annabell’s Bar & Lounge, 782 West Market Street in downtown Akron.
I’m the sort of person who always feels compelled to scream in a quiet library, or to slap two books together in glee during a particularly enjoyable poetry reading. Both of these activities are not only permissible, but encouraged, at the BIG BIG MESS. Listeners don’t just hear the poems, they feel them, and that’s okay. Furthermore, the BIG BIG MESS has door prizes, ranging from shake weights to hot new poetry collections donated by small presses. The lineup is always top-notch, the drinks are cold, the bar stools are wobbly, and the words bring down the house every time.
*Throughout Poetry Month 32 Poems will use this space to praise presses, journals, and readings series that bring poetry to us in a special way. Our hope is that we can point new fans in their direction and publicly thank editors and curators for their work. Check in with us again tomorrow for another poet’s recommendation.
Mary Biddinger’s most recent poetry collection is O Holy Insurgency (Black Lawrence Press, 2013). She is also co-editor of The Monkey and the Wrench: Essays into Contemporary Poetics (U Akron Press, 2011). Her poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Barrelhouse, Bat City Review, Blackbird, Crazyhorse, Crab Orchard Review, Forklift, Ohio, Guernica, Gulf Coast, Pleiades, Quarterly West, and Redivider, among others. She teaches literature and poetry writing at The University of Akron, where she edits Barn Owl Review, the Akron Series in Poetry, and the Akron Series in Contemporary Poetics.