Arts & Entertainment Editor
While Wordsworth and Coleridge are known for their flowery prose, Maura Way is known for her everyday language.
The dual poet and New Garden Friends teacher read select poems from her new poetry book, “Another Bungalow,” to a crowd filling every seat and a few lingering on the sidelines at Scuppernong Books on Wednesday.
Way’s poems are published in several magazines and journals including “Verse,” “Drunken Boat,” “DIAGRAM,” “The Chattahoochee Review” and “Beloit Poetry Journal.”
Prior to Way’s reading, the Winston-Salem based publisher, Kevin Morgan Watson, from Press 53 made some introductions.
Watson said he watched Way read her poetry a few times before he created a publishing contract.
“Oh, we need her,” Watson thought. “Her voice needs to be out there.”
When Way began reading, it was understandable what the publisher meant. Way’s poetry is not emotion-based, but story-based, with memories being her primary springboard for inspiration.
The first poem she read, “Our Town,” is also the first poem in her newest poetry book. Her short-versed prose explains the feelings one has when someone else notices their accent and mentions it as if it is a lesser form of speaking.
“He made us say: / greasy without the z / could have / would should have,” Way wrote. Then continuing later with, “the sweetness of ornch drink / the tang of earl and vinerger.”
Reading the poem by oneself does not do it justice, but hearing it in Way’s own voice made the poem humorous, with a relatable and sad tinge.
Another prose-styled poem Way read was “He Asks,” which features memories of when she grew up in Washington, D.C.
“Back home, there were D.C. words for punching: / stole ‘he stole him in the face’ / glass ‘she just walked up and glassed him’ / slide ‘He got a slider – fell back twenty feet,’” Way wrote.
Her humor was obvious and bold, protruding the air as she spoke.
“I got out of all my fights by not making my presence known,” Way wrote. “In 7th grade, a big girl didn’t want me and Alexa Schatzow changing up in her locker room because we were so f*gly and nasty. I agreed and took a D in P.E.”
What stands out when Way read her poetry is how she knew where the punchlines fell, allowing her to quicken her speech or form a higher pitch when it was necessary. Laughter filled the room at every joke, and Way’s smile would suddenly reveal itself – her happiness obvious as she read.
However, her poetry was not all set in Washington, D.C. Way read a poem about Christmas light ornaments hanging in trees – a tradition for every Greensboro native.
“Here we make tree balls,” Way begins, and later continues, “a / canopy of wild light / hangs high above / our boxy houses.”
This poem is a standout for many that experience the lights every year during Christmas.
One of the last poems read was “Rinky Dink,” a poem dedicated to Anthony Myers, a past colleague at Summit School where Way used to teach, who was nestled in the rest of the crowd.
“Rinky Dink” explains the ease that comes with no obstacles in a roller skating rink, and how simple that constant circular motion feels when skating.
“Oh, how this going / nowhere exhilarates me,” Way writes. “There is relief / without finish lines. / Here you just run out of time.”
This poem, though overall happy, has a somber feeling underneath. Many in the crowd made a sigh as it ended.
After the reading was a quick question and answer session, in which Way spoke humbly about her book. When an audience member asked how one of us could be written into a poem, Way deadpanned, “just try to be interesting.”
Way even spoke of the struggle she had trying to get the book published. “It wasn’t just a miracle;” she said it was rejected at least 50 times.
“Trying to be a judge and a creator of things did not work out,” she said, explaining how writing and critiquing her work at the same time was not the best decision.
For the past three years, Way has written every morning, trying to hone her skills.
Way’s reading and poetry are personalized, highlighting simple life stories in profound poems and prose. Stop by Scuppernong Books in downtown Greensboro or shop online at Amazon for a copy of “Another Bungalow.”
Categories: Artist Weekly, Arts & Entertainment
Hey! I knew this poet’s parents before she was born, and when she showed up I said she looked just like the baby on the Gerber’s baby food jar. Knowing Delbert & Mary Lou makes Maura’s poems all the more precious to me. I have followed her career at a distance and am glad she is finally out there with a full book that begs for the next one. Claude Clayton Smith
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