Like Mother Like Daughter: Audrey LeBert to Read as Featured Writer for Ozarks Poets and Writers Collective

Like Mother Like Daughter: Audrey LeBert to Read as Featured Writer for Ozarks Poets and Writers Collective
Courtesy Photo Audrey LaBert with her daughter Alyssa.

Courtesy Photo
Audrey LaBert with her daughter Alyssa.

Twenty-four-year-old Audrey LeBert is a poet. Her daughter Alyssa, who is 3, is “Way cooler than I am and makes better poetry than any of mine.”

We’ll see. Audrey will be the featured writer at the next monthly meeting of the Ozarks Poets and Writers Collective, 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 25, at Nightbird Books on Dickson Street in Fayetteville. (It may be past Alyssa’s bedtime.) The public is invited to the event, and there is no charge. Prose and poetry, caffeine and alcohol are available for purchase. Poetry and discussion are free. All are welcome.

Audrey LeBert — pronounced as in the French, La-BARE — is a pre-med student studying biology and has been performing poetry for about a year and a half. She’s a member of the Fayetteville Word Warriors slam team, and she often competes at the Last Night Fayetteville Variety Show. She dates the onset of her slam career to an open mic appearance at Nightbird Books. While she’s a bit unsatisfied about that first poem, she’s anxious to return to that same platform to show how far her writing has progressed.

Audrey writes about experiences that frustrate her. (Alyssa is perhaps less frustrated. Her latest work is titled “The Dead Beetle on the Doorstep is Really, Really Dead.”)

Audrey will not be the first writer to ponder the question of why bad things happen to good people, and she gives as an example the mental health system that seems designed to punish damaged veterans, and the families who proudly and willingly send their sons and daughters off to fight.

She says, “I suppose my poetry can always be summed up in one question, ‘Why do human beings hurt each other?’” It is a question she’s been asking herself since she was a small child, and she says, “Until I grasp the concept, I guess I’ll just keep writing.”

Audrey’s poetry can be — well, let’s call it oof-producing. Here’s the beginning of her long work called “Soldier”:

“My grandfather has a tattoo of a naked lady on his forearm / A buxom black and blue souvenir from his days in the marines / Grandma yells at him in embarrassment / every time he tries to roll up his sleeves / She once even marched him to the nearest tattoo parlor / to demand he cover her shame / but with only the outline complete / he didn’t think it was worth the pain / and called for a truce.”

The poem goes on to tell of the lives of narrator and her siblings growing up in a family scarred by war, trauma and violence, and the brother who, mysteriously to the narrator, ends up a soldier himself. The poem ends, “And our scars and broken homes / are all my family / all this country/has to show for it.”

Before and after Audrey LeBert’s performance the microphone will be open for members of the community to each share four minutes’ worth of prose, poetry, song, memoir or whatever with the audience, which is an unusually encouraging bunch of folks.

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