Healing Through Poetry: Inquiring Minds Hosts Performative Reading

Photo Courtesy of Amy Wallace / Flickr

Healing is an act that comes in many shapes and forms, and on Oct. 27, in the quiet, intimate space of the Inquiring Minds Bookstore in town, author Gisela Stromeyer taught audiences what healing means to her. She did this through the reading of a series of poems and meditations from her first published book “Just Like That: Poems, Paintings, and Practices.” 

The event, titled “Reading and Music with Gisela Stromeyer,” differed from traditional poetry readings in that it was not solely an author reading from their own work. Stromeyer was accompanied by friends of hers who participated in reading her poems aloud (Dror Ashuah), performing interpretive dance (Elizabeth Andes Bell and Bruce Bell) and playing music on the djembe (John MacDowell) and harmonium (Ned Leavitt). With the exception of MacDowell and Leavitt, the additional performers of the event sat among the crowd creating a surprise for unsuspecting audience members when each one rose to participate in the reading.

The performance lasted from 4 to 5 p.m. but within that hour, Stromeyer led audiences on a spiritual journey inward to discover what she calls “the void,” meaning “a quiet space within [ourselves]” in which we have the opportunity to become more present and to breathe, love, let go of fears and believe in magic, according to Stromeyer. It is within this space where we may be able to find the answers to our problems and where we may be able to heal. 

Stromeyer, a self-proclaimed healer, describes the act of healing as a sort of disentanglement from the problems of your past. 

“We all have kinks, [we’ve] all [been] not quite treated right, we didn’t quite get what we needed,” Stromeyer stated. Healing is to unwind that, to give that space to open up, to be felt and then to be integrated in your life and you will create more of a sense of connection.”

The majority of poems read at the event focused on the act of healing and how to overcome your inner struggles and obstacles. This sentiment was felt prevalently in the performance of the poem “Why,” which follows the narrative of someone who cannot shake a “nagging feeling” inside of them that goes wherever they go until they finally face it head-on, the repeating message at the end of the poem being “everything needs attention.”

“Why” was read aloud by Andes Bell and accompanied by music played by both MacDowell and Leavitt as well as interpretive dance performed by Bell. The use of both auditory and visual performance brought the poetry to life in a way that reading it on paper would not have.  

This is one of the reasons why Inquiring Minds Bookstore Events Coordinator, Jane Liddle, encourages readers to attend events like Stromeyer’s. “It’s always fun to hear an author read their work live,” Liddle stated. “It really does change how you hear the work, read the work or understand the work.”

Those who missed the chance to hear Stromeyer and her friends read her work live can attend her next reading “Gisela Stromeyer- ‘Just Like That: Poems, Paintings, and Practices,” on Nov. 8, at Oblong Books & Music in Rhinebeck, New York. For more information visit oblongbooks.com/event/gisela-stromeyer-just-like-that

The Inquiring Minds Bookstore holds free-to-the-public live reading events three to four times a month. For more information, visit inquiringbooks.com/new-calendar.

About Morgan Hughes 63 Articles
Morgan Hughes (she/her) is a fourth-year double major in digital media management and English with a concentration in creative writing. This is her fifth and final semester on the Oracle and her second as Features editor. Morgan’s favorite Features articles to write center small businesses in our community as well as articles centering sustainability. Sometimes she crochets. You can reach her by emailing hughesm9@newpaltz.edu.