If you want to know what it means to be a Nasty Women, join The Arts & Literature Laboratory for a Nasty Women reading. Women will be sharing poetry and prose to benefit Planned Parenthood and celebrate Women’s History Month.

As part of their Watershed Reading Series, ALL uses support from Dane Arts to create interactive book readings from a number of local or national writers and poets.

“It’s not a reading where you just go and passively listen to people’s very private preoccupations,” Rita Mae Reese, co-director of ALL, said. “It’s really a community event that empowers people. It empowers people’s stories.”

The reading itself will feature seven readers from Madison, Milwaukee and Athens, Georgia: Cindy Carlson, Robin Smith Chapman, Dana Maya, Freesia McKee, Katrina Schaag, Lindsay Tigue and Kara Candito. Their poetry and prose will touch on issues related to health care access, resistance, cultural traditions, body image and many other themes that affect femme-presenting individuals.

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Courtesy of Rita Mae Reese

The idea for the event was born out of the political unrest and uncertainty of certain artists, and was inspired especially by the recent Writers Resist reading event that benefited the American Civil Liberties Union, which Reese also helped organize.

“Artists are always working very hard to tell the truth, and sometimes that truth can be very abstract and individual,” Reese said. “But at times when the general public discourse is lacking truth to a large degree, art becomes incredibly important and artists become compelled to speak out on a number of levels.”

The goal of the event at large is to give attendees a feeling of solidarity and an awareness of issues, according to Reese.

The writers will use personal experiences paired with recollections of current, pressing issues. It will give perspective to the whole picture of our current political climate, and how it affects the women and other individuals in it.

“I feel like in times when things start to seem chaotic and uncertain that we turn to poetry and art more,” Reese said. “We realize it’s important in our lives.”

With this focus in mind, ALL prepared an event to empower both the readers and attendees through giving everyone mutual support and a voice.

“For me, one of the most important things is remembering how powerful our voices are, and how helpful it is to gather together and listen to each other, and to express ourselves and use our voices,” Reese said.

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There will be no admission fee, but attendees will be encouraged to make a donation to Planned Parenthood if possible. There will also be hand-knitted key chains and pussy hats on sale, and all proceeds will go toward Planned Parenthood.

“We wanted to support [Planned Parenthood] so that they could continue to offer health care, especially to low-income people,” Reese said.

ALL focused on creating an event that is inclusive and free to all who wish to learn more about issues and individuals’ experiences.

The Nasty Women reading will be open to the public and will take place on March 18 at 8 p.m.