Gin Belly. I know what this is. It is nothing at all like a “Beer Belly”. Gin Belly is inconspicuous. Not physical. Run your hand over a Gin Belly in the wild and you will be none the wiser to its presence. Your fingers and eyes and mind will only find the shape of a tummy – and you’ll think that for a split second, naming it: “Tummy”. Possibly “Stomach”. Or whatever.
Gin Belly makes a human part whale. Listen: your belly fuses with the DNA of juniper – it happens suddenly, spontaneously, a moment – your insides take on the form of a ship, Captain Ahab hunts the White Whale in your veins and capillaries and the whole party sails the distilled spirits right up to the highest point of your brain and claims your head in the name of Her Majesty’s Armada. Sea water spouts. You’re a little fountain. Your neighbor mistakes you for a whale. You write. You write a poem. You write without paragraphs. You make up a new English. Dreamless sleep on the couch.
I like Gin Belly. Maybe it only gives you a headache, but it transforms me into a sea creature and all the waves and wind and seagulls churning around inside me push words right out of my pores and I can hardly twitch fingers fast enough to make them into language. I’m happy. Wine doesn’t work. Cheers.
It’s summer, my friends. Slice a cucumber, raise a gin and hop a cab (responsibility, you know): sail across the city and into the depths of giant squid and giant swollen speech bubbles as Sarabande Books  hosts writers Lucas Mann and Mark Neely tonight at this month’s 21c Reading Series. Hold ye fast.
Starting at 7:30pm and held, but of course, at 21c Museum Hotel , poet Mark Neely and author Lucas Mann will share their respective literatures for nary a penny.
Author of the volume, Beasts of the Hill, Mark Neely has collected the FIELD Poetry Prize and won the Concrete Wolf chapbook contest with his work. His poems have appeared in the pages of Boulevard, Indiana Review, Salt Hill, Columbia Poetry Review, North American Review, as well as FIELD and beyond. Neely is currently teaching as an Associate Professor of English at Ball State University and serving as editor of The Broken Plate.
Joining Neely tonight is emerging writer and essayist Lucas Mann. Currently completing his MFA in nonfiction at the University of Iowa, Mann’s work has appeared in publications such as The Collagist, Wag’s Revue, Wigleaf and Word Riot. His first book, forthcoming from Knopf later this year, is tentatively titled Class A.
Come find your sea legs here in words. In words and lines and letters and stuff. Come find your sea legs here tonight. Your head is a mountain sprouting up from the waves. Rub your tummy. Merry gin-making. Merry writers.
21c Museum Hotel is located at 700 W Main Street.
Image: Courtesy of Sarabande Books website www.sarabandebooks.org