Bobo does four writers and spits out an evening

Readers from last night’s event were, in order of appearance: Devin Walsh, Shad Marsh, Jaye Bartell and Selah Saterstrom. I wanted to write a lengthy post about it but I have a very busy morning and many creative projects to involve myself.

In brief, the readers read in “three rounds.” The place was packed with a few people standing along the side and back of the gallery–at least for the first round of readings. The second round of readings the crowd thinned a bit for smokes and drinks. By the end of the second round there was a new crowd filling the gallery.

Because I had to be up before 6 AM I was not able to stay for the third round. The event was a good showing and the artwork on the walls seemed to add to the atmosphere of public expression of art and culture.

I’m inspired to write a fictional account of last night’s reading for the sake of being entirely postmodern.

4 Asheville poets & writers reader tonight

BoBo Gallery
[photo :]

May 30, 9 PM.
free to the public.

Of Being Numerous:
A Reading of Numerous Writings

Edgy Mama beat me to it by posting all the details about tonight’s event on BlogAsheville. She plans to attend with her “house bottle of wine.” I’ll bring cheap paper cups.

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Pineda, poetry and thoughts about small press publishing

Really enjoyed the reading by Jon Pineda last week. (I would have written about it earlier, but I had a cantankerous iBook that refused to operate to my satisfaction. Thus delaying this post until today.) Being half Pinoy (or Filipino), Pineda explores themes common to those who have been removed from their heritage. He is now discovering it through poetry. The book’s epigraph sums up his theme: “It’s what always begins/In half dark, in half light” — José Gracia Villa.

He read exclusively from his award-winning book, Birthmark. Poems read included, “Matamis,” “Wrestling,” “Arboretum,” “Night Feeding,” “Birthmark,” and others.

The poem “Wrestling” still haunts me:
“At our first match, I wrestled a guy/I had met summers ago at a Filipino gathering, … a few of the boys pinned my shoulders against a tree//while one punched me.”

“I watched the clock as I locked a breath inside his throat.”

I wanted to buy a copy of Birthmark that night but I only had $6 in my pocket and the cover price was $14.95. This displeased me greatly for I wanted a signed copy of Jon Pineda’s book. Why is it that poets cannot afford poetry books? After working on a book project for the last six months, I know that the book (most likely) costs less than $4 to manufacture. This is not the poet’s fault. I recently bought two books at another reading (which is probably why I only had $6 left). One book was a 275-page hard cover book for $18.50 while the other book was a 57-page soft cover book for $16.95. The poetry book was the skinny, expensive book.

Maybe that’s why readers don’t read as much poetry–there’s not much to read for 17 bucks. Forgive me again. This is not the poet’s decision. I understand why this happens. Poetry publishers supposedly schedule small press runs–maybe 500 to 3000 copies per printing. With those quantities, the book production costs range from $3 to $6 per copy–possibly higher. Add mark-up for retail distribution and the cover price is logically $16.95 per copy.

I’d like to challenge that system. If poetry publishers offered a subscription based books program (i.e. an annual subscription offering three to four books), then they could print with more efficiency and pass the savings to readers. As it is currently, poetry publishers risk a lot and have to build that risk into the cover price. For example, if an independant small press offers a poetry book subscription of $39.95 for their annual series of four books, then they could operate with less risk due to the fact that they have a defined audience (i.e. subscribers) rather than a hopeful audience (i.e. retail outlets).

What through yonder window do you spy?

I forgot to mention my weekly contribution to Write Stuff yesterday: Through Yonder Window.

I’m overwhelmed by the kind, warm reception to my contributions. Comments made include:

“That’s a beautiful analogy. The way you write hooks me and I can vividly see what you’re describing.” —Benjamin

“I loved this post. And it sure is a beautiful analogy, as already mentioned above. It’s heart warming! I really loved it! Hugs!” —Anele

“This a truly beautiful and insightful post. Do you think that we can often be “too” educated?

Nothing is more endearing than those innocent little babbles;) I guess balance is the key.” —Tammi

Thanks Benjamin.

Thanks Anele (and hugs).

Thanks Tammi and good question. I like how Kent Nerburn put it: “Education will not inform your spirit and make you full. So, along with knowledge, you must seek wisdom.” Education with out wisdom is simple mathematics. The more one learns the more one realizes there is much more to learm. Soon the pursuit of knowledge for the sake of itself becomes empty. Wisdom provides a balance and purpose by offering an individual how to apply knowledge to those “young unsteady” ones spoken of in the post.

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Notes from last night’s poetry reading

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 …

Chall Gray

Chall Gray
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.”

Ingrid Carson

Ingrid Carson
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.

Emoke B'Racz

Emoke B’Racz
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.

15-minute intermission

Will Hubbard
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.

Rose McLarney

Rose McLarney
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.

Glenis Redmond

Glenis Redmond
“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.”

Reflections of paint from a poetry reading

I’m not sure what to say about tonight’s event. Seven and a half pages in my notebook filled with observations and thoughts of the reading. Though I haven’t the energy to type it all tonight, I’ll post details of the event later.

One thing, of many, did strike me this cool, blue Spring evening. I sat in an old wooden folding chair next to a wall lined with photos by Hazel Larsen Archer. Portraits of Josef and Anni Albers looked over my shoulder. A photo of Josef Albers teaching class displays students’ compositions scattered in the foreground. I know exactly what they are doing because my university art professor, a student of Albers, had his students apply gouche to panel and board in order to create swatches of tint and shade in the same manner. I spent hours painting a dozen variations of blue evenly representing shade to tint (i.e. dark blue to light blue). A whole semester was spent on Albers color theory and related understanding of color.

Josef Albers
photo source

I examined the students in the photo carefully trying to identify my university art professor Emery Bopp. But I forgot, at the time, that he studied under Albers at Yale not Black Mountain College. Still, I see Josef Albers in that portrait and there is a representative of Bauhaus style. His intensity of gaze from a vintage gelatin silver print hauntingly reminds me of a loose connection to him through my art professor and the hours spent mixing, applying and peeling paint from my fingers. In a physical way, the smell of gouche and the feel of mixing it in trays is that connection to a soft spoken professor, Emery Bopp. And I wonder if he learned his teaching approach from Josef Albers.

Cover Story: Filling My Love Basket

Spring 2006
Vol 1 Number 1

Blue Sky Asheville is a new publication that offers a wide variety of articles and essays on spirituality. Blue Sky Asheville is a local magazine in the same vein as Utne magazine.

Let me illustrate the diversity of Blue Sky Asheville. Articles range from “Fitness Rising: Gain Muscle and Shed Fat as the Moon Waxes and Wanes” to “Living the Mystery: Exploring the Physics of Consciousness.”

That being said, I am humbled and honored that my submission, “Filling My Love Basket,” attained the coveted spot of cover story on the debut issue of Blue Sky Asheville. Actually, it shares the cover with another (much more talented) writer–Gaither Stewart–who submitted an excellent article: “Not By Bread Alone.”

Allow me to offer a warning. If you are easily offended by irreverent, profane or obscene language you may want to skip this article due to a few choice words (three or four). Those of you who are regular readers know I don’t offer a lot of salty language. Profane or obscene language is something I avoid in my writings because, more often than not, it “calls attention [to itself and distracts] from the work as a whole” to quote Flannery O’Connor. However, in “Filling My Love Basket” I wanted to juxtapose religion and spirituality by “let my thoughts flow freely”. My hope is that I present an authentic and relevant struggle that is common to all people of various faith groups.

So without further delay, read “Filling My Love Basket”.

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