You can't judge this poet by her covers


Don't expect high-end fashion tips from poet Barbara DeCesare, 28. Do expect hilarious one-liners and a pragmatic yet self-expressive approach to dressing. At poetry readings, "I wear a lot of black," the Westminster single mother of three says. "I feel like a caricature when I do that." Although the color helps highlight the art, not the artist, she adds.

"I know if someone's wearing jewelry and colors, I'm not going to know what they're saying; I'll be connecting the dots on their buttons. I try to give my audience as little to worry about as possible."

DeCesare, formerly an account executive and teacher, currently an advertising copy writer at Bark at the Moon Studio, will read from her work "Jigsaweyesore" at Artscape 5 p.m. Saturday in the University of Baltimore's Moot courtroom.

What do you think about shopping?

Oh, God, I hate shopping. I just recently found out when you're on a double date and a woman says, "I have to go to the bathroom, would you like to come with me, Barbara?" I'm required to do so. So, I'm just not with the girl stuff. I've never been to Nordstrom. I go to Goodwill, or if I see a color or fabric I like in the window, I go in.

Where else do you shop?

The International Gift Shop in New Windsor. I bought a lot of sun dresses. It's light, low-responsibility clothing. I tie the dresses in the back and leave.

Didn't you have to dress professionally when you worked as an account executive?

I'd throw everything in the washing machine and make a sign of the cross over the tub, and then it was all Darwin after that. Usually the stuff that I didn't really want went first. If it was that delicate, there was no way I could maintain it.

What did your colleagues think of that approach?

My bosses were less happy than my clients. The bosses told me, "You cannot wear Birkenstocks twice a week!" The clients thought it was a hoot. No jewelry, no makeup, I didn't look like an ad executive. But it was more important that I could produce.

It sounds like "dressing the part" hasn't been a key strategy in your life so far.

I had my daughter when I was 18. I left my husband, I got myself through college with honors delivering pizza. If I wasn't going to get it done on the content of my character, I wasn't going to get it done. It hasn't mattered much, yet.

Were you a fashionette as a kid?

I went to private elementary school and wore a uniform. That about ruined me for fashion. Then, in the 1980s, you weren't supposed to dress like you knew what you were doing. In high school, I was a punk rocker. I wore my skirts shorter than my slip and tights that purposely had holes in them.

Do you have anything you really treasure in your wardrobe?

I have a favorite dress with some funky geometric blocks of patterns in it. It makes me feel like I'm in a Klimt painting.

What will you wear for the reading on Saturday?

I went with my daughter, Emily. She picked out the craziest stuff. She wanted me to get some kind of animal print. I picked out a black dress. And you know what else I bought? I bought a sun dress that looked exactly like the dress I was wearing!

Do you know any snappy dressers? Let us know. Write to Stephanie Shapiro, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278.

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