Tempe Center for the Arts hosted their Poetry in April event and invited Valerie Bandura to do a reading from “Freak Show” and showcase some of her new poems Wednesday.
Bandura read approximately six or seven poems — three of which were new material. Between each piece, she revealed anecdotes about the writing experience. She revealed aspects of each poem that were real and the moments that were imagination.
“Even though the impetus for the poems may have originated in that real world memory past kind of context, how they’re shaped is entirely not memoir,” Bandura said, “I would never want this book to be read as a kind of truth of what actually happened.”
Native to the former Soviet Union, Bandura earned her degrees from Columbia University and the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa Valley, North Carolina.
During her time at Warren Wilson, she served as the Joan Beebe Teaching Fellow. The Vermont Studio center awarded her residency from the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference and the James Merrill Fellowship. Currently, she is a writing instructor at ASU.
Her poems have appeared in “Crazyhorse,” “Alaska Quarterly,” “Third Coast,” and the “Best New Poets” anthology. “Freak Show,” Bandura’s first collection of poetry, was published by Black Lawrence Press.
“Neither here nor there” was the first piece that she read and the last was a new piece written about her son’s bravery. Bandura talked about her husband and how her poem “Jews for Jesus” was inspired by their antics.
American poet Tony Hoagland reviewed “Freak Show.” He called it a terrific book.
“Valerie Bandura’s clean, crafted, headlong-into-the-breach poems are scary in their intensity. They are full of the violence of history, and Europe, and family, and motherhood, and bodies, and fate, ” he said. “There is a little of hell in them, and a ferocious desire for truth, which is to say, their speaker is engaged in the brave, sometimes appalling struggle to turn into a human being.”
Bandura closed her session with a sincere thank you to Tempe Center for the Arts for providing an open forum where writers can showcase their work. She understands the struggle that comes with writing, having experienced a difficult time finding her first publisher.
Tempe Center for the Arts will host its next Poetry in April session with David Chorlton on April 23 at 7 p.m. The last session features Rebecca Byrkit on April 30. Both events are free and open to the public.
Reach the reporter at Stephanie.Tate@asu.edu or follow her on Twitter @StephanieITA.