Brooklyn Bookbeat: Poetry Brothel visits DUMBO for intimate ‘St. Valentine’s Day’ readings

February 7, 2013 By Samantha Samel Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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A slew of seductive poets will perform as part of The Poetry Brothel’s St. Valentine’s Day Massacre this Saturday, Feb. 9, at DUMBO’s Forgotten Works Studio. The event, which aims to challenge conventional Valentine’s Day traditions, features sultry writers who will read to patrons for a fee.  Forgotten Works Studio will transform into a brothel-like space that includes back rooms where patrons may pay to receive private poetic services. 

The Poetry Brothel has coordinated Valentine’s Day events for the past five years. Stephanie Berger, one of the Brothel’s poets who organized the event, tells Brooklyn Daily Eagle, “This year we wanted to shake it up and go a little darker.  We’re encouraging our guests to come and explore, interpret and deconstruct the concept of Valentine’s Day as institution, cultural myths and history of the day and season, and the Valentine, both as art object and object of desire.”

The event includes more than just provocative poetry readings. Event attendees – who are invited to take advantage of a full bar – will also have the chance to see burlesque and aerial performances, while singer-songwriter Shayfer James will be playing live music. 

Additional features include a “massacre”-themed photo/kissing booth, tarot readings, and body painting. Berger explains, “we are weaving thematic elements of the Lupercalia festival, the feast of the Roman Whores, and of course, Chicago’s infamous St. Valentine’s Day Massacre into the performances throughout the evening.”    

The Poetry Brothel is an organization that alters the context of traditional poems and poetry readings. Berger says the organization’s “unofficial mission statement is to never be boring and always be beautiful.  Too many poetry readings are dry and endless… Every event is an entire flamboyant production, each unique in theme and execution.” 

Transporting the art of poetry from academic and classroom settings to the interior of a cat-house or bordello, The Poetry Brothel emphasizes the practice of private poetry readings in intimate locations. As Berger explains, the participating poets hope to “break up the monotony of your typical poetry reading with drinks, magic, costumes, dancers, music, and anything else we can dream up.”

Much unlike a typical poetry reading or cloying Valentine’s Day celebration, the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre promises to be an unusual and intimate evening for readers and patrons alike. Berger asserts that despite the variety of performers involved, the Brothel will “always have a bevy of poets in the back with whom you can sneak away and steal a few minutes of one-on-one poetry.” 

The event will begin at 8 p.m. and tickets are $10. Attendees must be 21+. Forgotten Works Studio is located at 46 Bridge St. between Plymouth and Water streets in DUMBO.

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