~from intern Joyce Bohling

This month’s Fork Socket reading featured a giant game of Battleship.

You know, Battleship: the game with the submarine, the cruiser, the aircraft carrier, and the destroyer, where you say “miss” so many times it starts to sound like you’re trying to get an unmarried woman’s attention and where you make stupid jokes about “B4” and “2B or not 2B.” That Battleship. Except on a board taking up a space about four times the size of my kitchen (which isn’t actually saying much) and featuring cardboard ships, each slightly larger than a Dachshund but slightly smaller than my cousin’s late Flemish Giant rabbit.

The prize? A 3-in-1 breakfast maker appliance, including a toaster oven, skillet, and coffeemaker.

Proud Battleship victor Michelle Lacrosse didn’t say a lot about winning the 3-in-1 breakfast maker appliance, but she did have a lot to say as the March 3rd event’s first reader.

Michelle is a former fiction writer who came over to the dark side of the force (i.e. creative nonfiction) starting in January. Myself a creative nonfiction student, I was very excited to hear the work of our program’s newest Jedi student.

Michelle read a beautiful and sincerely rendered essay about her mother and their relationship as it has evolved from Michelle’s childhood through her young adulthood. Although the piece was contemplative, suggesting difficult times the family went through, it focused on how those difficult times brought mother and daughter together. By the end of the piece, I almost felt I knew the mother and could imagine her laugh, the way she prodded the bonfires she built with her children on the beach with her “poking stick,” and how she went for long drives in order to work through what was on her mind. Hearing the piece made me eager to read more of Michelle’s writing.

The second reader, Megan Clark, was hilarious. She read an excerpt from her novel about a young queer teenager who runs away from home. On her journey to find a particular couch on which she was conceived in the studio of an independent radio station, the narrator finds herself on the train next to Kevin, a goody-two-shoes prep school kid on his way to visit Harvard. As I listened to Megan’s skilled storytelling, I found Kevin very endearing but simultaneously laughed out loud at the sassy narrator’s impatience with him. Up-and-coming YA novelist to look out for: Megan Clark.

The final reader of the night was poet Leah White (the same Leah White who turned down the gummy bears at the last Fork Socket reading I wrote about.) Leah read from a powerful collection about the loss of her mother. In the first part of her reading, each poem was titled “Example” and read like a quick burst, each shedding light on the mother and their Arizona home as from a different angle. At the end, Leah transitioned to longer poems that flew by in a rush of emotion; poetry professor Camille Dungy described these to Leah as the collection’s “white hot center.” As Leah read each poem, I felt lured into comfort as if by lullaby, then startled awake.

Other features of the evening included a music video for a band whose name I didn’t catch but whose lead singer made remarkably unique and elaborate hand movements to the music, as well as a live interpretive dancer who danced very…um…loudly and aggressively during the introduction to each reader.

A good time was had by all.