Last night’s blind date

Malaprop’s Café
September 28, 2006
Jaye Bartell reading his poems

It’s been awhile since I’ve been downtown to soak up the poetry scene. Not that I’ve been slacking off, but I’ve been spending some long hours preparing manuscripts for press and that cuts into writing, reading and listening to poetry.

When my wife and I entered the café we were pleasantly surprised to find the publisher and editor of The Indie reading at Blind Date with Poetry. THE INDIE October issue hit the streets this week and features banner stories by Michael Hopping and Gaither Stewart. I contributed a small, no pun intended, chapbook review of RedLine Blues.

The featured poet last night was Jaye Bartell, author of Makes a Bird and contributor to As/Is and Malaprop’s employee. Last time I heard Jaye read was at Bobo’s. It was the first time my wife heard him read and she was impressed.

We had previously attended a poetry reading a couple months ago that featured two poets with multiple books and academic degrees between them and, well, it was a tepid reading. Actually, “tepid” is far too polite . . . I will not repeat the comments I made to my wife after the reading, but I do not think it is too much to expect celebrated poets with such credentials to read with authority and authenticity. However, the tepid reading was mere sloganeering and sophomoric. My wife thought the two poets were pandering to the Asheville crowd, or what they thought the Asheville audience would enjoy. As someone from Asheville, I felt insulted.

But last night, Jaye read his poems with self-conscious authenticity. It is my impression he wasn’t expecting to read. I don’t know if there was a cancellation, but he stepped in and he did a fine job. There is a quick wit and nice precision to his short poems. One can tell he enjoys playing with words, both how they look on the page and how they sound on the lips. I remembered his poem about Vermont from Bobo’s and my wife and I both enjoyed his final poem about cardinals.

Hearing Jaye read last night encouraged me to return to my stack of neglected poems and reconsider submitting them to pulishers. Recently, I have felt I should give up on poetry, but it seems it hasn’t given up on me. Still, later last night when asked to read some of my poems, I couldn’t do it. I can’t explain it, but I just couldn’t.

I just couldn’t play along

As much as I wanted to, I just couldn’t bring myself to contribute a comment to a well intentioned post. You see, I am often irked by the misuse of language. The request was to “use three words to describe their philosophy.” Seems relatively simple, but philosophy literal means “love and pursuit of wisdom by intellectual means.” Though to accommodate connotation (i.e. secondary meaning) the word has also come to mean “a system of values by which one lives.” Still, to use three words to describe one’s love and pursuit of wisdom is quite a heady request. I suspect the writer meant to express three words that characterize lifestyle choices. For example, if I were to suggest that my philosophy of life is to eat well, live well and do good deeds that may sound well. But it is not philosophy. It is, however, a lifestyle strategy–even a personal precept. Ah, but you see, if I were to say that my life’s precept is to eat well, live well and do good deeds, you might think I am delivering a lifestyle doctrine. And that won’t do because doctrine has an emotional connotation that is not positive to most readers. So, I just can’t play along, because in our post-literate culture readers attribute emotional gravity to words rather than pursue truth by intellectual means.

Courtyard Gallery Open Mic

Courtyard Gallery & Studio Open Mike

Thursday nights
9 PM-12 midnight
Downtown Asheville

Free to Public


Pure Energy: bells, bowls and didge

Okay, is it “open mic” or “open mike”? I’ve seen the term represented both ways.

If you’ve missed the Beanstreet open mic events of previous years, then head on down to Walnut Street for a free-for-all of lyrics and poetry and eclectic vibes at Courtyard Gallery & Studio. Can’t find the gallery? Find your way to Scully’s and follow the steps downstairs or take a walk down Carolina Lane and look for the sign pointing you to a weekly event featuring singer/songwriters, poets and writers. The open mic is hosted by Jarrett Leone (pictured playing the didge). Also, check out their podcasts, “True Home,” on Apple iTunes.

Write Stuff: Short story subject matter in the news

Weird. I wrote a first draft fictional story for Write Stuff based on actual events. The working title is Career Mistake and relates a story about a civil rights attorney defending Native Americans in the 1970s.

So this morning I just heard Daniel Kraker’s report on NPR’s Morning Edition: Navajos Protest Violence Against Tribe.

September 12, 2006 · The Navajo Nation is concerned about three recent incidences of violence against Navajos in Farmington, N.M. The Navajo community is rallying to draw attention to the problem.

Woah. I thought I had picked an obscure subject matter; you know, not like newspaper headline story.

The write dream

Karen asks two good questions, here at Write Stuff, regarding writing career aspirations:

“What did you first want from your writing career when you began? What is your writing dream today?”

Fill in the blank:

In my personal writing career dream, I see myself …

The least it would take for me to feel successful is …