Mad for Maddie: Comic and salty sermonizing
I knew her as my ninth-grade English teacher, the woman who introduced me to Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, to the rules for comma usage, to the idea of expository writing, and, perhaps most importantly, to poetry. When I was 15, she was the only person I knew who had published poems. I was impressed.
So, imagine my surprise when I opened my email messages last week to find a note from Katherine De Lorraine, my former teacher, letting me know about a performance she is giving at Immigrant Soul on the Downtown Mall this week.
De Lorraine has recently written a new book of poems, titled simply Maddie, that has received praise from the likes of Grace Simpson, former Poet Laureate of Virginia, and of sage and pot-stirrer Nikki Giovanni, among others. De Lorraine calls her work a charologue– a compilation of monologues spoken by one character.
"This book is definitely Southern soul food created by a spicy, no-nonsense woman, whose witty words are laced with wisdom," Simpson says.
De Lorraine is currently doing a series of performances in which she portrays the character of Maddie, whose hyperbolic "sermons" are comic and salty. Hands on her hips, De Lorraine launches headlong into monologues that cover a range of human emotion– fear, stress, depression, rage– as well as rants about a faithless lover. Simpson calls the performance "part jazz, part hymn, always funny, often profound."
Here's a little taste of Maddie's playful and pointed thinking:
Instead of feeling like a sliver off a slab of rotten bologna,
you’ll soon be dancing jig like a little pig named Lucky
that cut loose the noose just before he would have lost his juice
to a big, bad butcher who was after his pink, porkified rump.
"Once you’ve heard Maddie, you’ll never confuse her with anyone else’s voice. Sisters and brothers, you will be converted," Simpson says of De Lorraine's performance. Giovanni concurs, cautioning simply, "Don't miss this wonderful new writer."
Katherine De Lorraine brings Maddie to life at 8pm at Immigrant Soul Restaurant, 310 E. Main, on Thursday, August 22. Free. 977-8200.