Asheville Wordfest 2012 – poems that open conversations

It’s true. There is only one article I read from the pages of O: The Oprah Magazine. It is the interview between Maria Shriver and the poet Mary Oliver. [1] “I consider myself kind of a reporter. . .” Mary Oliver says. I think that’s the same sentiment Wordfest director Laura Hope-Gill expresses in this week’s Mountain Xpress article where she describes poetry as “citizens’ journalism.” [2]

“Poetry is a short line between different cultures,” says Laura Hope-Gill. “It can heal the cultural divides that still plague our city. It opens conversations that we need to have.”

The invitation to read my poems at this year’s poetry festival is something I don’t take lightly. I spent the last few nights reviewing poems I’ve written during the last year as well as poems composed during the last decade. The PR/marketing side of me wants to chose poems to read that promote a certain manuscript I’m developing or maybe only read published poems. It’s a promotional game poets play when they read their work publicly. They casually mention that “the next poem I’m going to read was published in the Atlantic Monthly…” or the American Poetry Review or some other notable journal as away to promote their ascendancy of poet extraordinaire.

But my thoughts returned to the idea Laura mentioned in the Mountain Xpress article. I looked through pages of my poems last night searching for material that addresses the idea of healing cultural divides or opening conversations. Selecting poems that fit the general theme presented a bit of a challenge, but there are subtle threads of those ideas in several of the poems I’ve written during the last few years.

Tonight, however, I’ll put aside the task of poem selection and venture to the Vanuatu Kava Bar for Poem-ing the 28801 [3] featuring Barbie Angell, Ten Cent Poetry, Jonathan Santos and Jadwiga McKay.

NOTES: [1] Dear Oprah, you stole my idea, but I’m not filing charges [2] A short line between different cultures [3] Wordfest 2012: Poem-ing the 28801

It’s here… Asheville Wordfest 2012 begins tomorrow

“It’s a good time to come together at the table of poetry,” says Laura Hope-Gill, the director of Asheville Wordfest, in a recent article in the Asheville Citizen-Times.[1] I’m very excited to be part of the local Asheville poets who will be reading during the festival. I’m also excited to listen to the guest poets attending this year’s poetry festival. Some of the guests include Arthur Sze [2] (author of The Ginkgo LightArchipelago and other books) and Matthew Shenoda (author of Somewhere Else and Seasons of Lotus, Seasons of Bone of which A. Van Jordan writes, the poet “uses a quiet language to bring some of the most striking lyrical intensity.”).[3]

This year’s Wordfest includes a memorial reading for poet Carol Novack. On a rainy evening last summer at the Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar was the last time I saw her. She was with friends and admirers reading selections from Giraffes in Hiding.

This morning I received an email from the director of Asheville Wordfest with the official schedule for the Asheville Wordfest 2012. It is listed below for those who have not received the schedule:

Wednesday

• 9-11 p.m.

Open mic hosted by Caleb Beissert. Vanuatu Kava Bar, 15 Eagle St.

Thursday


• 7 p.m. “Poem-ing the 28801,”

with Barbie Angell, Ten Cent Poetry, Jonathan Santos and Jadwiga McKay at Vanuatu Kava Bar.

Friday

• Noon, informational luncheon with Lenoir Rhyne University graduate studies program director Paul Knott, who will talk about the Masters in Writing program. Chamber of Commerce building, 2nd floor, 36 Montford Ave. RSVP required to Sara Landry at 258-6136 or Sara.Landry@lr.edu.

• 5-7 p.m., MadHat Reception honoring Carol Novack. Refreshments.

• 7 p.m. “Voices of the City,”

Katherine Soniat, DeWayne Barton, Ronald Reginald King, Matt Mulder, Ekua Adisa and Roberto Hess.

• 9 p.m. “An Evening of Translation,”

with Erik Bendix, Caleb Beissert, Thomas Rain Crowe, Nan Watkins and Luke Hankins.

Saturday


 • 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m., “The Poets of Press 53,”

with Terri Kirby Erickson, Joseph Mills and Kathryn Kirkpatrick.

• 1-2 p.m. The Carol Novack Memorial Reading,

with Terese Svoboda, Marc Vincenz and Jeff Davis, Asheville Wordfest co-founder and host of Wordplay.

• 3 p.m. “Fixing to Tell About Jack,”

a celebration and benefit for Ray and Rosa Hicks Fund, featuring storytellers Sheila Kay Adams, Gwenda Ledbetter, Vixi Jil Glen, David Novak, Connie Regan-Blake and Ted Hicks. $12; additional donations welcomed.

• 5:30-6:30 p.m.The Poets of the Asheville-Buncombe County Schools Poetry Slam.

• 7-9 p.m. “Our Honored Guests,”

with Sara Day Evans, LeAnne Howe, Allison Adelle Hedge Coke, Arthur Sze and Matthew Shenoda

• 10 p.m. until late. “Late Night Open Mic.”

Sunday

• 10:30-11:30 p.m. “Children’s Poetry and Children’s Poems,” hosted by Barbie Angell..

• Noon-1 p.m. “Morning of Spirit,” with Tracey Schmidt and James Davis of Logosophia Books, Michael Ivey on guitar and Matthew Cox from Shantavaani on tablas and hand drums. An open mic will invite people to share their own spiritual poems.

• 1:30-2:30 p.m. “Voices of the City,” with April Fox, Eric Steineger, Lisa Sarasohn and Meta Commerce.

• 3 p.m., “Poetrio,” with Maureen Sherbody, Mark DeFoe and Jessie Carty. Malaprops Bookstore/Café, 55 Haywood St.

• 5 p.m. until whenever, “Poetic Wine-Down,” Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar, Grove Arcade.[4]

NOTES: [1] “Asheville Wordfest celebrates poetry of all stripes, May 2-6″ [2] The Poetry Foundations bio of Arthur Sze [3] Matthew Shenoda’s web site [4] Asheville Wordfest 2012