The atmosphere was buzzing at The Wild Detectives bookstore in the Bishop Arts District this Wednesday evening as the anticipation mounted for the next installment of their poetry reading series “inner moonlight.” Groups of people milled about the crowded coffee shop, chatting with the friends that they came with and meeting new ones. They were all here for the poetry reading to be performed by Fatima-Ayan Malika Hirsi and courtney marie, who prefers that her name be printed in lowercase. These two North Texas poets are on the verge of releasing a new dual-chapbook “Moon Woman / don’t get your hopes up.”
Tonight at 7:30pm Inner Moonlight returns to The WD with Fatima-Ayan Malika Hirsi and courtney marie as our key poets! The two are working on a poetry double-chapbook together and will be presenting it tonight! #LiteraryDallas https://t.co/uPhjTXNTwi
— The Wild Detectives (@WildDetectives) June 6, 2018
Fatima-Ayan Malika Hirsi is the founder of Dark Moon Poetry & Arts, which is a monthly series that spotlights “the creative feminine and non-binary powers of North Texas,” according to their website. She has also been featured in D Magazine, The Dallas Observer, and the Dallas Morning News. courtney marie is a poet out of Denton who is also the co-founder and primary organizer of the literary & art collective Spiderweb Salon, which was named Best Literary Arts Group in 2016 by the Dallas Observer.
Some people in the audience were quite familiar with the poets, including Joel Constantine, who has known Hirsi for years. Constantine was excited to hear Fatima’ s new work, which he described to me as “personal, women-inspired and freeform.” Constantine has watched Hirsi’s progression as an artist from their “hippie drum circle days” to her present success as a published poet, and was enthusiastic about this next stage in her career.
Other audience members, however, had never heard of either of the poets, but the reputation of interesting events put on by The Wild Detectives attracted them to the event. One such audience member was Mari Ramirez, a recent graduate at UT Arlington who enjoys the “homey and friendly” atmosphere that The Wild Detectives café provides. While she was not familiar with the work of these two poets before this performance, she explained that for her, “Live performance is always a great way to dive in and get familiar with an artist’s work.”
As the emcee for the night approached the mic to introduce the poets, the audience’s enthusiastic chatter immediately subsided, but the energy of the performance to come remained palpable in the room.
Hirsi began the night with powerful declarative statements on life and living it as a woman, eliciting repeated verbal affirmation from the audience with her powerful messages. Her use of direct eye contact and inflection in her voice added a theatrical quality to her demonstrative statements. Hirsi touched on a number of current social and political issues. Some lines from her poetry include, “The paradox of pro-life refuses to accept that black lives matter,” and “My body is a used refrigerator waiting for death outside of a dumpster.”
“Reading the news and seeing posts from friends helps us forget what it means to trust. How many people who ignore our words don’t believe us human.” – Fatima-Ayan Malika Hirsi
courtney marie contrasted Hirsi’s more severe approach by taking a lighter and more whimsical method to reading her poetry. After beginning her turn with a brief anecdote about her witnessing a dead turtle on the side of the road on her trip to the event, marie read lines from small pieces of paper that she allowed to flutter to the floor as she finished reading each scrap, allowing the audience to visualize the separations between her lines of poetry in an unconventional manner.
In courtney marie’s opening poem, she involved the audience in the reading of the poem when she asked the audience to make loud noises as she shouted her poem over our dissonant shouts, declaring lines such as, “I will tell you that I have had enough. I will not be silenced.” The effect of her shouting over our noise enforced her resolution to get her point across in the poem against all odds.
At the event’s conclusion, the audience remained to reflect on their interpretations of the poetry they had just heard, some of the work having only been finished that very day. The conversation incited by this performance emulated the dogma of the Wild Detectives, which is to provide thought-provoking events that catalyze new ideas and conversations.