Dim lights showcased a stool and microphone on the stage, as people searched for nearby seats.
Others crowded the bookstore registers with copies of “The Reformation” in hand before the author’s poetry reading began.
Webster’s Bookstore and Cafe hosted a book signing and poetry reading by Katherine Bode-Lang, a published poet, on Saturday night.
Bode-Lang, a Penn State alumna with an MFA in poetry, recently published a poetry book, “The Reformation,” an award-winning collection that won the 2014 American Poetry Review/Honickman First Book Award.
Bode-Lang is no stranger to being published or winning writing awards. She has had works published in The Cincinnati Review, Subtropics and other journals, according to Bode-Lang’s website. She has won the New England Poetry Club’s Jean Pedrick Chapbook Award and second place in the 2008 Keystone Chapbook Contest for her chapbook “Spring Melt.”
“I am a persistent writer. Poetry is such a subjective thing, especially in judged contests,” said Bode-Lang. “It’s just a matter of time — it just needs to get the right judge, the right contest at the right time.”
Her poetry collection contains 50 poems ranging in subject from garden pruning and mother-daughter dialogues to the condition of her vulva.
“I feel much influenced by place. It’s oftentimes the infrastructure to a poem, or like the scaffolding,” said Bode-Lang. “Where am I and what’s the day like. It’s an interesting thing, but that’s often one of the prompts for my writing.”
Some audience members said they felt this intimate setting and unbarred mentality in her works.
“She is very admirable in how open she is talking about events in her life,” Megan McLaurin (junior-general science and print journalism) said. “It is very refreshing to get that much personal information from the depths of her life.”
At the event, Bode-Lang chose to read 15 poems from the collection, such as “The Boys” and “The Reformation.”
“The title poem gives you a view into her life that you could never imagine. There is this depth of thought and reflection going on in people’s lives that is very astounding,” English professor Camille-Yvette Welsch said. “The part that makes it powerful is the anger and the love that is simultaneously happening in ‘The Reformation.’”
Each poem had its own distinct character and truth involved with Bode-Lang’s life encounters. Her emphasis of certain words and conversational speech patterns throughout the readings highlighted those aspects.
“It is interesting to hear a person read her work as opposed to reading it on the page,” Elizabeth Catchmark said. “I had purchased her book and it adds such a new dimension when you hear her speak it within the way she gives intonation and emphasis on certain things.”
Bode-Lang’s last poem, “Lament on Pluto,” left a reflective resonance with the crowd.
“Her poems are already so intimate,” Catchmark (sophomore-English and philosophy) said. “You feel that you are seeing intimate parts of her life. It’s very engaging.”