nasty woman

Professor Twyla Hansen reads her poem about bad hair days at the "Nasty Women Poets" anthology on Oct. 30, 2017, in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Over the next few months, readings from “Nasty Women Poets: An Anthology of Subversive Verse” will take place around the country. On Monday, Oct. 30, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln hosted one of these readings at the Bailey Library located inside of Andrews Hall.

Poets donning “pussy hats,” “Nasty Woman” T-shirts and even blue hair gathered to read their work from the anthology to students and faculty.

Grace Bauer, a poet and English professor at UNL, came up with the idea for the anthology. She said it came to her while she was in the shower one day before the 2016 presidential election.

According to Bauer, she was disheartened by the election results and did not want to continue with the project.

“The publisher said ‘No, no, we have to do it now more than ever,’” Bauer said at the beginning of the event.

Poet Twyla Hansen was first to read. Each poet was asked to read her own poem as well as one by another poet featured in the anthology. Hansen chose to read one by her friend Barbara Schmitz, a poet and English professor at Northeast Community College in Norfolk, titled, “When the Body is as Sweet as Corn.”

Hansen followed with her own poem titled “Bad Hair Day.” In the poem, Hansen likens the Donald Trump presidency to a series of extremely bad hair days, in which the only remedy is letting the hair grow out.  

Marianne Kunkel, a poet and assistant English professor at Missouri Western State University, was the next to read. She said the election made her feel as if she was not part of a community.

“It’s been lonely in my town in rural Missouri wondering where my people were,” Kunkel said.

Kunkel began with a poem by Allison Joseph, a poet and associate English professor at Southern Illinois University, titled “Declaration,” and followed with her own work titled “Lipstick to Hillary.” It personifies a tube of lipstick and the thoughts it has of its owner Hillary Clinton. One of the thoughts the lipstick has is that it might be similar to Clinton, saying “When I’m on my last twist, one sunny coat away from empty. Just like you don’t show when your patience is thinning.”

According to the next reader Maria Nazos, not only bad things came out of the election.

“I consider myself kind of an optimistic zealot, as I always tell my students,” Nazos said. “I think if there’s one good thing to come out of this disastrous presidency, it’s this [poetry reading] really and these conversations that transpire, these manifestos and these calls of truth.”

Nazos started with a poem by Kim Addonizio, a Bay Area poet and novelist, titled “To the Woman Crying Uncontrollably in the Next Stall,” before going on to read her own piece, “Rock’n’Roll Fever.” Nazos’ work detailed the ways both her poetry persona and rock star Joan Jett chased the highs of life through the use of drugs and alcohol, and toward the end of the poem asks the question, “What if all women cool down with time?”  

Poet Kim Tedrow read a poem by Annie Finch titled “Binding Spell” as well as her own work, “Tornado Dreams.” According to Tedrow’s poem, witches place a binding spell on Donald Trump every month.

The next poet was Hope Wabuke, who read “You’ve Known Girls like This All Your Life: A Corrective Memoir” by Rochelle Spencer and her own poem, “Job (War Survivor’s Guilt).”

Stacey Waite, a poet and assistant English professor at UNL, read poet Linda Bell’s work “Inaugural Address” and then read her own composition, “Dead Locked.”

According to Waite, her poem was inspired by a recent Lincoln Public Schools school board vote on whether transgender students should be able to choose their own bathrooms, shown through lines like, “Each urination will become a choose your own adventure.”

The last poet of the night was Laura Wiseman, who read “The Red Inside Girls,” as well as “Signature” by poet Shirley Brewer.

Wiseman closed the night on a positive note.

“No matter what happens, I live in a community of people that wants to get stronger, and what that proves is we are already strong,” Wiseman said.

This article was modified at 3:52 p.m. on Nov. 2 to correct titles and clarify context.