NOTE: Originally published April 19, 2011, https://coffeehousejunkie.net/2011/04/19/poem-the-honey-bee/
Our paths first met at open mic night at Beanstreet café during a time of national crisis and local transition. The aftermath of 9/11 brought a lot of poets and singer songwriters to open mics for reasons of catharsis and later to protest.
But Barbie Angell brought something different to the Beanstreet musicians and poets. Part Dorothy Parker, part Shel Silverstein, Barbie Angell became a regular favorite of scene and a poetic force.
We first met around the time my book Late Night Writing was published. I was working hard on new material and trying it out on the open mic crowd. We exchanged a few conversations and notes at that time and then we lost track of each other for a couple years.
Beanstreet dramatically closed. The poetry scene was adrift for awhile. Eventually the Courtyard Gallery off Walnut Street filled the space. And that is where Barbie and I reconnected. From those late nights at the Courtyard Gallery open mics until my departure from Asheville, we spent a lot of time sharing poetry, discussing literary world domination, challenging and encouraging each other about all things regarding a poets life.
Roasting Questions, her collection of poems and illustrations, was released a few years ago. We talked much about that publication and the supporting book tour.
Though our poetic styles were different we still sought to encourage one another toward success.
There was one night I remember in particular. Two different events were going on in Asheville and she was to read poetry at one while I read at another. She picked me up at my house, drove downtown, and after the separate events we met up at Sazerac for refreshments. We talked about the night’s events, avoided how jealous we were of the others’ success and then she drove me back home. That is what friends do.
That is a glimpse into the story behind this short poem. With friends like Barbie, you have the strength to walk further, to try harder, and to be better.
 Originally published May 4, 2017 https://coffeehousejunkie.net/2017/05/04/poetry-reading-list-for-national-poetry-month-part-three/
NOTE: Originally published April 11, 2011, https://coffeehousejunkie.net/2011/04/11/poem-foggy-sunday-morning/
Some of you know this, others may not, but there is a lot of labor involved if you put your hand to the practice and turn of poetry. There was a lot of hard work and late nights at cafés, open mics and taverns and copious amounts of coffee and hours of mic time that provided me the opportunity to read poems at an art gallery — the Flood Gallery Fine Art Center.
The Flood Gallery Fine Art Center organized a poetry reading series that featured local poets. That evening marked a milestone — in my mind. Before that night at the Flood Gallery, the poets — Britt Kaufmann, Brian Sneeden, Barbara Gravelle and myself — were barely familiar with each other. But something alchemical happened during the reading.
Britt Kaufmann’s Belonging was published sometime after that reading. I remember Britt emailing me drafts of the poems prior to publication as well as discussing the nuances of navigating publishing challenges. Barbara Gravelle has published several books of poetry. Her collection of Greek island poems came together before my eyes. One afternoon we looked at illustrations and poems side by side to consider the flow of art and poetry. Brian Sneeden has several forthcoming books of translations and poetry. The first time I heard him read his work was at Malaprop’s Bookstore/Cafe for a Traveling Bonfires event.
Barbara, Brian and myself went on to form a poetic collective called the Rooftop Poets. We collaborated on an invitation-only event of music and poetry at the private ballroom of the Historic Battery Park Apartments. Attendees were given a commemorative, limited edition anthology of our poems. There were a few more public gatherings of the Rooftop Poets, but for me the treasure was sharing our compositions privately. Discussing everything from modern Greek poetry to religion to archeology to feminism to poetry to local gossip as well other aspects of life. I greatly miss that face-to-face time with these friends.
Shortly before my departure from Asheville, I sat in a side room of a wine bar on a Sunday afternoon. The room was filled with aspiring and novice poets. We went around the room reading poems. At the conclusion of the readings I overheard a few people commenting about the Rooftop Poets. They discussed — even mythologized — who the Rooftop Poets were, what they did, how many people attended a private reading, what happened at that reading and so on and so forth. The eavesdropping made me smiled. I did not correct factual errors. I walked to the main bar. Someone bought me a beer. We talked about employment and jazz and all things Asheville. And I left.
These poets and friends made in impact in my life — as well as the local and regional community.
 Read more about Britt Kaufmann and her work as a poet and playwright. http://www.brittkaufmann.com/poetry
 Some of Barbara’s books are out of print, but worth the read if you can find them. Here’s a link to one of her published poems: http://www.salomemagazine.com/search.php?search=1
 Originally published May 1, 2017 https://coffeehousejunkie.net/2017/05/01/poetry-reading-list-for-national-poetry-month-part-two/