On a Poetry Reading at the Crown by Lydia Youngman
The reading ended as soon as it began. Two words: Abby Higgs. She pulled the microphone down—it was towering over her—read one personal essay called “Everytime I Set My Fork Down” and that was it. We could all go home.
I was at the April edition of a monthly reading series called “Hey You, Come Back!” at the Crown. I’d never been to the Crown before, but was instantly captivated by its grungy lounge vibe.
The Crown has two spaces: the Red Room and the Blue Room. The reading was in the Blue Room, presumably named for its dark blue walls and twinkly blue and white fairy lights. The stage was tucked away in the corner and there was a bar in the back.
“Everytime I Set My Fork Down” was a comical, autobiographical journey about when Higgs told her parents that she had accidentally discovered her biological mother on the Internet while shopping for platform boots. The piece then spiraled off into all the times she’d had to confess various crimes and misdemeanors to her parents over various meals.
Higgs is a published author. The moderator of the reading implied that readers were somehow connected to the JHU Writing Seminars community, but she’d graduated from University of Baltimore. Her work has appeared in The Guardian, Salon, The Rumpus, Freerange Nonfiction, VICE, and elsewhere. It can also be found online at slowclapabby.com.
In contrast, another one of the readers definitely had a Hopkins connection: Kate Robinson. She’d been my TA for Intro to Fiction and Poetry. I couldn’t tell if she recognized me or not but she smiled at me when security was checking our bags.
She read a selection of poems, many inspired by her time at a Seal Sanctuary in the Shetland Islands between Scotland and Norway. All of her poetry had interesting back stories. They seemed very focused on words and their roots.
From her poem “Adderstone,” I learned that adderstones are little pebbles on beaches it Scotland that are said to protect you from drowning. From “Selkie Wife,” I learned about the legend of the selkie—a seal who sheds her skin to turn into a human woman. “Bone House” is an old anglosaxon word for body.
Overall the reading was enjoyable. There were probably twenty people in the audience—a significant number but not enough so that the space felt overcrowded. I didn’t feel intimidated walking into the room alone even though most people seemed to either know someone there or came with a friend. I gravitated towards the only other girl-on-phone in the room and we shared an uncomfortable black leather couch with our backpacks between us.
The Crown seems like a versatile space. I got the feeling that it could be transformed into anything—a club, a café, a gallery—at a moment’s notice without losing any sense of atmosphere. I loved how as the different artists told their stories in the Blue Room strains of guitar drifted in from the Red Room.
Featured Photo courtesy of Hey You, Come Back!
Lydia Youngman is a writer from Albany, New York. The facts: Irish dancer. Loves working with little kids. Terrible with directions. Fears spiders like Ron Weasley, unless someone else in the room is fears spiders more, then yes, fine she will kill the spider.