by Kat Thornton
Jump starting this year's Mouth and Thistle reading series, writer Reggie Townley (of Jumping Sharks fame) and poet Karena Youtz read to a stimulated, but sweat-drenched crowd at Hyde Park Books on Saturday, Sept. 24.
Townley, a student in the Master of Fine Arts writing program at Boise State, read from his first novel, The Next Steps are Only Breathing. The book is divided into three perspectives and the language and scenes feel distinctly Idahoan. Townley explained that the book contains several footnotes and appendices, not to detract from the progression of the narrative but to connect the reader to the story's vernacular and imagery.
Here's an excerpt from Townley's first chapter, which he read aloud:
Candy Bear the lot lizard wakes in sand and dessert brush debris against the base of the rabbit brush, her skin pale blue. An empty vibration waits just beyond grass, hidden but she’s too cold to shiver, but something in her still wants to shiver. The something wet that wants to stay alive inside a distant warmth lingers, to stir and keep the surging blood moving along it’s course.
Townley also talked about the fun he had preparing his visual aids. "I’d never done a science fair in elementary school because I never got it together; I was a slacker even at like 6.”
Youtz, a poet and alumni of the Boise State MFA writing program, read from her upcoming collection of poems, The Transfer Tree, which will be out early next year from 1913 Press. Youtz wove the words of her poems into rhythmic guitar and mini keyboard accompaniment from her husband, Doug Martsch of Built to Spill.
Youtz explained that this was not a musical endeavor, but a new genre of sorts. "It's a poetry band," Youtz said. As she read along, the music looped, echoed and played with the tones of her words.
"That’s The True Wheel, it rolls but it does not rock," said Youtz, explaining the name of her group.