Magickal Readism at the Bowery Poetry Club

1. Iconic view from the street . 2. Bird in the rafters, at attention.

“Love can transform us. It can be a healing force or a disaster, a tidal wave, a tornado. It can burn and scar us or heal our scars. It can be a ghost that haunts us or a best friend that reads our every thought. Love may arrive like an angel of mercy, a fairy with raven wings or a hairy beast that will tear us apart from limb to limb…” — Francesca Lia Block, from the intro to Love Magick.

On Sunday, Sarah Herrington, Jennifer Sky, Sloane Davis, Jessa Mendez, Alise Hamilton, Ashley Inguanta, Mike Stone, and Laura Thorne gathered at the Bowery Poetry Club on the Lower East Side to celebrate the latest collaboration curated by the love magick goddess herself, Francesca Lia Block. We were also reminded that love can suck you dry, make you want to live in a tree trunk, get you to chase after storms in order to find your missing lover, or just want to lounge in a warm bath orally addressing your rising seasonal desires.

1. Bowery poet and host, Sarah Herrington. 2. Alise Hamilton. 3. Laura Thorne.

Mike Stone, the lone man of the group, opened the evening by giving his ode to beauty — and apologizing to the beautiful girls who would follow. As if he knew he was the frog missing the kiss. He gave excerpts from his tale of storm chasing and lost love. It was short and turbulent; enticing, not sweet.

“The lights are so bright up here, I can’t see you, and that’s okay ’cause I’m the lone teller of the erotic tonight. Good thing I’m not a wilting flower.” Jennifer Sky stood on stage in a black satin dress, her mouth red, her voice strong and alluring, as she told her tale of a girl in a field daydreaming, of hardness and budding wishes in warm bath waters, lovers washed clean of reticence, and desire pounding at the back of your throat.

1. Mike Stone. 2. Ashley Inguanta.

Ashley Iguanta held a steak knife up over her head: “This is the moment the baby hits the air, this is what Francesca taught me.” The light glinted from the knife. She pulled a large chunk of her curling thick brown hair and stared into the crowd. She ripped clean though it with the knife, cutting off a chunk, and then placing it on the mic stand. What did she read? I have no fucking idea, I was too caught up in thinking about hair loss and pages thrown to the ground and the long drawled out beauty of her resonating voice.

1. Jessa Mendez. 2. Jennifer Sky.

“You think you’re hot shit, don’t you?” Jessa Mendez had me from the moment she opened her mouth, voicing characters from the bowels of Brooklyn, her voice tinged with cigarettes, sex, and irony.

The tales that followed were filled with Facebook lust, trees that go bump in the nightclub, a mermaid waitress and her vampire love conversing under the red light of the Empire State Building, and Persephone retold in a Greek restaurant. I spilled my beer twice. My sheer lace skirt was hard and sticky by the finale, and I kept wishing my lover’s hands were close by.

“We have a special finale,” Sarah Herrington announced as she began to read from “The Real Housewives of Mount Olympus,” Francesca Lia Block’s contribution to the collection. Each reader took the stage and traded the voice of the goddess — the arguments, the tales of woe, the disappointment in their gods was evident. Love Magick is that kind of a compilation — you can’t pin it down, you can’t rely on it to keep you warm at night. It may cut you deep, it may soothe like salve. You may leave crying, screaming for more, so keep some tissues handy. You will not be bored.


— Liz Axelrod was Managing Editor of two award-winning editions of 12th Street, the New School’s undergraduate literary journal; Editor-in-Chief of, and is now a Poetry Reader for LIT Magazine. Her work has been published in the Cat Oars Fiction Collective, 12th Street, Lyre Lyre, The Rumpus, and The Brooklyn Rail.

Photos provided by Aspen and Justin Matis.

More Like This

Predicting the 2023 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

This year’s top contenders for the most prestigious award of American literature

Apr 28 - Bradley Sides

We Partied With Padma Lakshmi, Union Supporter, at the National Book Awards

Prize-winning writers spoke out against book bans and censorship at the Oscars for books

Nov 18 - Electric Literature

It’s Time to Radically Rethink Online Book Events

Instead of mimicking in-person events, virtual readings should make use of the possibilities of the internet

Jul 28 - Kate Reed Petty
Thank You!