By Will Roper
May 8, 2018
The city basked in the warmest First Friday of the year on May 4 as a crowd of lively Lincolnites headed downtown to experience some exceptional art, rhythmic music and, at Indigo Bridge Books, passionate poetry.
Touring poet Jamie Mortara stopped by the cafe and bookstore on Friday to talk with fans, lead a small spoken word workshop and read aloud from their newest book, Good Morning America I Am Hungry and on Fire. The event was put on and sponsored by Indigo Bridge Books, which has housed and sold previous works of Mortara’s.
Mortara is currently on a national tour to showcase and promote the new book, stopping all across the country in cities like Chicago, Minneapolis, Kansas City and others. Their tour, which started in New York City on April 1, will end in Seattle on May 23.
Born in New Jersey, Mortara is now based in Portland as an author, performer and slam poetry competitor. When not touring or performing readings and slam poetry, Mortara also founded and helps run Voicemail Poems – a website where poets across the world can leave a poem of theirs as a voicemail for others to hear.
Along with smaller pamphlets and chapbooks, like the facetiously titled congratulations you are prequalified for the darkness that consumes us all, Mortara also has a larger collection of poetry titled Some Planet that was released in 2015.
For the reading on First Friday, Mortara tried to find selections within Good Morning America I Am Hungry and on Fire that had yet to be read in public. When reading poems like “My Mother Says,” Mortara truly showed the stark contrasts between reading poetry silently to yourself, and actually watching and hearing a poem be declared and performed. The softness and attention to each syllable and line in “My Mother Says” differed greatly with other poems of Mortara’s that were strong and imposing, focusing on identity and the absence of meaning with a clever mixture of humor, emotion and pragmatism.
Mortara’s workshop on spoken word and poetry also attracted a good group of people looking to learn and talk about poetry, performance and expression. The workshop was an open circle that invited anyone interested to come and discuss poetry with Mortara and others, and it seemed to provide valuable insight to those who participated.
First Friday in Lincoln has primarily focused on local art galleries and music venues. However, Indigo Bridge Books and Mortara showed that spoken word poetry should have a larger place in the monthly art celebration. This city has a flourishing spoken word and slam poetry community, and First Friday could and should be a large stage to showcase these talents in Lincoln as well. Overall, Mortara’s community workshop and vivacious readings were an amazing and welcome sight for both longtime fans and any First Friday-goers who happened to catch the performance.
Will Roper is an editorial intern with KZUM.