Performance Poet Banah Ghadbian at OPWC
By Ginny Masullo
When Banah Ghadbian stands before the microphone at 7 p.m. Tuesday as the Ozark Poets and Writers Collective February feature, she will be performing as an orator and performance poet. While she will be reading primarily from her own body of work, Ghadbian lends a fresh voice to poets like William Carlos Willliams and Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Just last week she competed in the Poetry Aloud contest at Fayetteville High, where she is a sophomore.
Neither competition nor writing are new to Ghadbain, who has been writing since she was four years old and competing in various writing contests since her elementary school years.
More recently, through the tutelage of Tim Hollis ’s Forensics class at Fayetteville High, Ghadbian has found the joy of performance. While many people think forensics has only to do with the study of crime scenes, it is about using language effectively. To that end, forensic presentations include poetry, reading theater, oratory, words and music and improvisation.
In a 2008 oratory competition, Ghadbian presented her views on veiling in a speech titled “Long Black Veil.” Here is an excerpt from that address.
A metaphorical example of veiling involves a fabric contraption with metal bands and clasps with cups that squeeze a woman’s chest. Clearly all women who wear bras must be oppressed! They don’t have a choice or opinion on whether they wear a bra or not! It is a one-dimensional issue, either she is oppres sed or she is liberated, right? In 1968, feminists threw bras, girdles, high heels, and pantyhose into barrels to be burned in front of a Ms. America pageant, symbolizing the fight on women’s oppression in America. How hypocritical of the West to condemn the Middle East’s clothing standards for women when it has its own suffocating dress code restrictions. Ahh, but it is not all black and white. The women, the root of this speculation, do have a say. Women choose to wear bras and pantyhose and girdles and high heels and veils. Gasp! But why? Because it is accepted and encouraged in society. As mentioned earlier, perhaps it is a habit, custom, convenience? Not only do I happily submit myself to the bondage of the bra, but I sometimes wear a veil as well.
Ghadbian, who is also a musician and songwriter, finds that her favorite contemporary poets are musicians. She cites loving “Kimya Dawson for her simple ordinary words and Regina Spektor for her quirky stream of consciousness lyrics.”
February 24 may still bring cold bitter weather, but listening to Ghadbian, along with the Nightbird Books’s birds, will be an early breath of Spring.
Ozark Poets and Writers Collective, now in its 15th year, hosts a featured reader followed by an open mic the last Tuesday of every month. The primary founding member, Brenda Moossy passed from our midst on Jan. 29. People are invited to read poems by or for Moossy during the open mic.
Ozark Poets and Writers Collective is open to all and will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Nightbird Books.