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Abby Minor Discusses Poetry & Reproductive Rights In Paterno Library Reading

Abby Minor is a poet and Penn State graduate with a master’s of fine arts degree in poetry. She’s the recipient of multiple fellowships, awards, and residencies from numerous organizations including the Penland School of Craft and Sundress Academy for the Arts.

Minor held a free public poetry reading on reproductive rights Thursday night in the Foster Auditorium of the Paterno Library.

She lives in central Pennsylvania where she writes poetry, gardens, and quilts. Minor focuses on writing political prose, specifically on women’s reproductive rights.

In 2017, Minor helped create Ridgelines Language Arts, a nonprofit offering language education to marginalized communities. She regularly conducts poetry workshops through Ridgelines at local nursing homes. Additionally, Minor is also a board member of Abortion Conversation Projects, an activist group that aims to improve abortion access.

The reading began with a “choreopoem” performance of Minor’s poem “Rhythm Make a Riot.” A “choreopoem” is a live performance of poetry with music and dance for artistic expression. The term “choreopoem” was created in 1975 by Ntozake Shange in a performance of her piece “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf.”

The performance of “Rhythm Make a Riot” included old folk methods of abortion and language from biblical songs.

Minor shared that journaling was an incredible influence on her writing, citing that she “wanted her journaling to become more like real writing.” By blurring the lines of journaling and writing, Minor found inspiration.

After the choreopoem performance, Minor read the poem “Once in a Black Silk Gown” from her 2022 book “As I Said: A Dissent.” The poem centers around Anne Lomen, a woman who provided contraception methods and abortions to women during the mid-19th century. Lomen received immense ridicule and pressure from the public and authorities, ultimately ending her life.

Minor continued to read from her book with the poem “Blood Dress,” which recounted the experience of receiving an abortion in a whimsical but simultaneously blunt tone.

Most notably, Minor shared her poem “Ours,” which was based on recorded interviews Minor conducted with her mother and grandmother, both of whom had received an abortion. The poem focused on the Jewish-American experience of receiving an abortion in New York.

“I wanted to think and write about abortion through the lens of America, and America through the lens of abortion,” Minor said. “I wanted to make it beautiful and extravagant.”

More information on Minor and her work is available on her website. To learn more about future creative writing events at Penn State, visit the program’s website.

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About the Author

Gracie Mullan

Gracie is a senior from Delaware County, Pa, studying telecommunications with a minor in English. In her free time, Gracie likes to read, write, and drink coffee. Get in touch with Gracie on her Instagram @gracie.mullan and for more formal inquiries [email protected].

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