NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Maxine Susman said she and the other eight members of their poetry collective were assigned the title cool women.
They’ve spent the past 25 or so years living up to the name.
What’s really cool, for Susman and the other eight members of Cool Women Poets, has been the pursuit of poetry as a way to convey intimate and profound thoughts and emotions.
“Poetry … gives you a way of expressing your voice, and that can be on the printed page, and that can be out loud in performance,” she said.
“The audience is always kind of surprised, and so are we, as we do the reading. We read around in two, sometimes three, rounds of passing the mic from one person to the next, and we just keep going in a circle until everybody’s had a chance to read … twice or maybe three times.”
The Cool Women Poets will present “HerStories,” a free poetry reading for Women’s History Month, at the New Brunswick Public Library on Saturday, March 7, from noon to 1 p.m.
They practice what they call Improv Poetry – no scripts, no rehearsals, no cue cards. They try to connect with the audience as they connect with each other's poetry.
“So I don’t know what anyone else is going to read, “ Susman said. “We’re responding to the theme of ‘HerStories,’ known or unknown. “
History is one of Susman’s favorite themes to cover when the Cool Women get together.
“I think it’s really important to go and kind of rediscover what’s not so unknown about the past,” Susman said.
The Cool Women Poets started as a critique group, but it was invited to do a reading under the title, “Hot Poems by Cool Women” for Valentine’s Day in 2000 at Labyrinth Books in Princeton.
The name stuck, but truth be told, they were certainly cool before then.
“We draw upon very rich personal experiences in writing poetry, and I think that really makes for good poems: when you have an experience that goes beyond your own life,” Susman said.
She said the poets write, perform and interpret various kinds of poems: first person, third person, personal stories, contemporary stories, poems about current events, historical figures, nature and many others.
Five of the Cool Women Poets are original members. Susman has been with the group for 20 years.
“People have been writing poetry from the beginning, and all over the world in every civilization, every period of history,” she said. “It’s just everywhere and universal, and even things that may not seem poetic, turn out to be impulses to express what’s on your mind and what you’re feeling.”
To order any of the Cool Women Poets books, CDs or products, visit https://coolwomenpoets.org and contact firstname.lastname@example.org.