Poetry reading list for National Poetry Month, part three

Beanstreet coffeehouse, July 2005

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[1] 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[2] 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,[3] 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.

NOTES:

[1Read all about Barbie Angell: http://www.barbieangell.com/about-barbie-angell/
[2Late Night Writing is still available in print. Contact me for details. Or you can purchase an e-book version here: https://www.amazon.com/Late-Night-Writing-Matthew-Mulder/dp/1932852204
[3Find out more about Barbie’s book, Roasting Questions: http://www.barbieangell.com/roasting-questions/

Poetry reading list for National Poetry Month, part one

Asheville’s Beanstreet coffeehouse, circa 2005.

As stated earlier this week, my poetry reading list for National Poetry Month is designed to encourage you to seek out the influence of living poets — where they live and and where they read. Allow me to introduce you to a few of the living poets I met at the open mics and coffee dens of Asheville, North Carolina.

One of those souls is an editor, poet, journalist and friend, Pasckie Pascua.[1] He has published several chapbooks and collections of poetry and prose. We first met at a coffeeshop in West Asheville and later haunted Beanstreets and other places from North Carolina to New York City. He left the back door to the poetry scene open for me and allowed me to grow and mature as a poet and writer. He also published many of my early writings. Lines from his poems still echo in my mind, like this one:

“The color of my poem

is also the color of my brother’s soul,

the color of my friend’s heart.”[2]

Another poet I wrote with and read alongside is Jessica Newton.[3] She facilitated a writers group when I first moved to Asheville. We gathered at the UNCA library or other spots around Asheville to write and read our compositions. Sometimes she brought writing prompts or other sources of inspiration. We shared prompts and poems. One night Mara Leigh Koslen[4] brought examples of haibun.[5] She introduced the poetic form and then we wrote. It was that night that I composed the first draft of a poem that would later be published.[6] Several other poets and writers visited the writers group.

My poetry reading list is really an introduction to friends and poets who I have met face-to-face. We read and wrote poetry together. We drank coffee at sidewalk cafés until dark-thirty. We shared wine after a moonlit poetry reading. Met in cafés and coffeehouse, taverns and art galleries, bookstores and basements and rooftop ballrooms. We did life together.

When I introduce you to poetry, I introduce you to friends.

I’ll continue the reading list, introductions throughout this month and maybe beyond. Why should poetry only be celebrated in April?

NOTES:

[1]Learn more about Pasckie Pascua from this Rapid River Magazine article. http://www.rapidrivermagazine.com/2015/red-is-the-color-of-my-night/
[2]Read the full poem, “Red is the color of my night” and other poems. http://pasckiepascuawords.blogspot.com/p/poetry-red-is-color-of-my-night.html
[3]Jessica Newton is published in several literary journals. The last time we read together was at the Asheville 100 Thousand Poets For Change event. https://coffeehousejunkie.net/2013/10/03/100tpc-quote-jessica-newton/ Jessica was also a finalist in the Mountain Xpress poetry prize: https://coffeehousejunkie.net/2011/04/07/who-will-be-the-winner-of-the-2011-mountain-xpress-poetry-prize/
[4]Mara Leigh Koslen bio: https://palimpsestgarden.com/about/bio/