Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center
Instead of writing an eloquent report of last night’s reading, I will just post the notes I scribbled into my notebook. Yeah, if you were there, I was the one with my head buried in a notebook frantically writing. Blame it on my ADD tendencies. Apart from running spell check these notes are as they generally appear in my notebook–complete with poor punctuation, abbreviated thoughts and for some odd reason attention poets’ fashion. Right on … here I go …
Breaks the ice nicely with a humorous poem about furniture and contrasts it with a poem about a brother and a sister who observe but do not talk about things. He wears a black long-sleeved button down shirt rolled up to the elbow–blue jeans–hair dark, pulled back into tight short ponytail. He ends with a moving homage to his departed father by asking “why.”
Begins with a poem asking what color is the American dream. “What Now” is read second. She wears a black top, wavy brown hair pulled back, framing her face. “What am I going to do now?” she asks and ends; “What am I going to do now?” Her last poem is in two parts; “Still Life” and “My Hands.” She reads, “a violence of flowers…” She reads with purpose and poise and through delicate lips and intense blue eyes as if to say, I know something you don’t know and I have the floor for a few more lines. “You have pushed the mind to the limits…” She concludes that beauty is found in the ugliest of things.
Thomas Rain Crowe
Thomas Rain Crowe
Wearing all black–he tunes up a wooden flute–poet is participant–reads a letter to the editor of a local newspaper in Jackson county–admits he spent a lot of time writing editors. He reads of beauty and uses metaphor–King Kong movie cements his argument to turn corporate development back to nature’s beauty. He next reads an extended haiku written for Steve Earl for some event last year. “What profit? What Price?” he asks. “We can do better than this,” he concludes the poem powerfully. His poem “Peace Will Come” is accompanied by the evening’s featured keyboardist, Steve Davidowski. “Peace will come one day” is lifted over the ambient keyboard harmonics–his reading intensifies. “When peace comes to stay” ends his poem. He steps back, places the flute to his lips and plays–the keyboardist joins the melody which concludes that session.
First poem is recited in Hungarian. “Fragmented Life” is about her father who she says is bigger than life–sometimes everyday. “Try not to talk about the time,” she reads. She reads about her father’s internment camp experience: “Now take that.” She shares of the hard life of the punished young men in those camps. “Silently he left.. to give your youth for democracy…taken…” She wears a white blouse, gold necklace with pendant, black suit jacket–1965–“Poets Among Each Other” translated and published in 1970-something (’76?). “This is how we stand my brothers,” she reads her translation. It’s a short work. She rolls her tongue across her lower lip from right to left frequently before saying “I could use some water” then reads her last poem of the evening.
Reads several poems–long brown hair wrapped behind his ears–as he gazes down upon his papers it rests on his shoulders like a hood–he reads a poem called “Porn” with cynical tones of humor and wry sensibility. “5 for 5 for 3 Straight” is his last poem “and one learns where to leave off” he reads. His left hand casually in his pants pocket, his right hand holds his loose-leaf manuscript. “Saying it how it was originally said…” He reads as one might read a tele marketer’s script.
She reads a collection of poems concerning the over development of Madison county–lose of land to corporate contractors–overgrowth of urban/suburban sprawl. “Shouldn’t fight … farms let them go,” she reads. Her thin lips clip her words nervously as if she is unaccustomed to public reading. She wears a black sleeveless top with flowing flowery patterned skirt–hair pulled back, leaving dark curls to cascade down the back of her neck. Her last poem: “… the peace of the American South.”
Laura Hope Gill
Laura Hope Gill
She tells of her BMC connections–reads “Ponco” with an eruption of words and demands social justice “when she was the question” referring to the dead old woman under a poncho many Americans saw after Hurricane Katrina–The image of a woman who died waiting for medical assistance in the aftermath of the hurricane that destroyed New Orleans. She wears hoop earrings, thin gold necklace upon her chest, low-cut white blouse and black sweater. She reads several poems of childhood witness “we slept in our bunk beds … spelled out in silk.” She reads about a stallion. She reads with proficiency and like Ingrid has a smile and sparkle in her eyes suggesting a joke that only she knows the punch line. Her speech skills draw several people forward in their seats. Or maybe its the hard wooden seats we all endure. “The wind of their grandfather’s song… ” she reads.
“Enter through the door of war…” she begins after adjusting the microphone. “Grief is an uttering tongue.” She begins with a powerful recitation. She is a performer–practiced in public settings. Her second poem is “Lifting” about the Kenilworth slave cemetery near her neighborhood. “Bid us ride,” she reads. By far she is the most charismatic poet of the evening. “Looking back to the land where courage was born.” Due to the lateness of the evening she says she’ll only read three poems. Her next poem is about Nina Simone: “bitter aint born black.” Her final poem is a recitation: “Every time I hear King speak I feel a rumble…” she starts and concludes, “We shall.”