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MUSCATINE, Iowa — Local women from various backgrounds read poems and segments from "Sisters: An Anthology" to celebrate their own sisters and the lives of Muscatine women.

Writers on the Avenue and the Musser Public Library organized the event, which was held in the Muscatine History and Industry Center.

Misty Urban introduced the nine local women who read and said that she hoped the event would allow attendees to appreciate the contributions and the voices of women in Muscatine.

The majority of readers had very personal ties to the works they chose, including Elly Lloyd, owner of Elly's Tea and Coffee House, who read from "Sisters" by Lucille Clifton.

When explaining the poem she chose, Lloyd said, "This poem touched my heart because it reminded me of my sisters — I have three."

Melanie Alexander, director of the Muscatine Art Center, read an excerpt of Tsipi Keller's "Shlug da Keine," which is a mostly lighthearted anecdote about the struggles sisters often have with each other.

Many of the poems showed the complex struggle and togetherness that siblings, especially sisters, may experience.

Cathi Head Bencken, a priest at Trinity Episcopal Church, read "Letter to a Sister who Lives in a Distant Country" by Daisy Zamora, which she read first in Spanish, then translated to English. Her connection to the piece comes from living far away from her own sister.

"Everyday Use" by Alice Walker, read by Joni Axel, showed the differences between siblings from a mother's point of view, while "Hanging Up," by Delia Ephron, showed a middle sibling's experience. "Hanging Up" was read by Diana Broderson, the city's mayor and director of Family Programs at the local YMCA.

Millie Morris, a morning host at KWPC, read from "The Liar's Club" by Mary Karr, and said the piece grabbed her because "where else could you read a story and use the word 'harking?'" 

Ky Cochran, Muscatine's Convention and Visitors Bureau director, is a local writer of poetry, film reviews, journalism, and is working on a novel, read from "I Needed to Talk to My Sister" by Grace Paley, and said that her strong connections to her brother and other family members made the piece resonate with her.

Two students from Muscatine Community College also joined the reading, twin sisters, Sharon and Kimi Adasme. They read from "Having Our Say" by the Delany Sisters.

Urban, who heads the Writers on the Avenue group, thanked all of the readers, and said this reading was "about saying yes to the things that grow you, things that change you."

Writers on the Avenue hosts meetings 6-8 p.m. the second Wednesday of every month, in Room 10 of Strahan Hall on the MCC campus.

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