It was quite something to hear Marcia Ann Gillespie speak on a Friday evening in Soho. The former editor-in-chief of Ms. and Essence, she kept the crowd rapt with stories about her family and promises of an upcoming memoir about her life in the ’70s. Gillespie was the keynote speaker of Girls Write Now’s last CHAPTERS reading of the season, and it’s at these readings that the true scope of these young women’s talents can blow your mind.
Gillespie talked about history, and her mom, and grandma, and great-grandma. She spoke with reverence, wonder, and respect for the women who paved her way.
At the evening’s end, I imagined an incredible, accomplished woman a couple of generations from now, standing at a podium:
“My great-grandmother was a writer,” she will say with pride. “And one day in 2013 she read her poem and brought the house down.”
The final CHAPTERS was my second chance to hear Christina, my mentee, read “She,” which I describe to anyone who asks as “the best poem ever.” I just love it.
The first time I heard it, Christina was performing at a poetry slam. A POETRY. SLAM. On stage, at Lincoln Center. Does that sound not so nerve-wracking? Because there were judges, and an audience who wrote numbered scores on big write boards. I get agitatated just thinking about it.
But true to form, Christina rocked it. It was the last time I’ll hear that poem as her Girls Write Now mentor, but I’m 100% certain it isn’t the last time I’ll hear it. I expect to hear a lot more from her — and from all of the Girls Write Now class of 2013 — when future generations of young writers discuss their work with wonder, inspired by the women who blazed their paths.
- Christina will be moving on to SUNY Purchase in the fall, after two years with Amy. Check out Christina’s take on her last CHAPTER with Girls Write Now.