Interview: Caleb Beissert on Beautiful translations of Federico García Lorca and Pablo Neruda

Reposting this interview. Enjoy!

Coffeehouse Junkie

Beautiful by Caleb Beissert Caleb Beissert is a poet, translator and musician. His published work appears in International Poetry Review, Tar River Poetry, Asheville Poetry Review and Beatitude: Golden Anniversary, 1959-2009.

This week, Poetry at the Altamont celebrates the release of Caleb Beissert’s first book, Beautiful, a selection of poems by Pablo Neruda and Federico García Lorca translated into English. During the last few weeks, Beautiful was well received by enthusiastic audiences at Montford Books & More and Malaprop’s Books & Cafe and is a Small Press Distribution best-seller.

The Altamont theater doors open at 7:00 P.M. for Poetry at the Altamont. Admission is $5 at the door. Beer and wine sold at the bar and lounge will remain open for drinks after the reading. Event link.

UPDATE: Caleb Beissert is the featured guest of the Coffee with the Poet Series, Thursday, February 21st at 10:30 a.m. at City Lights Bookstore. Event…

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Found poem commemorating AVL 100TPC 2013

As promised last week, here is a found poem I constructed based on the poets who read at the Asheville 100 Thousand Poets for Change event.

Poem for 28 September, 2013

Do not wonder when I say it directly to your ear,[1]
“I am writing a letter to my dead sister. . . “[2]

We anticipate the leap into freedom. [3]
We make our vows in the beach dunes. [4]
We need visual signs of healing. [5]

All that remains is the small few. . . [6]
A home where the family never can return. [7]

They sold their own inheritance. . . [8]
And must return to the center. . . to learn more. . . [9]
It is possible to have everything. . . or at least twenty dollars. . . [10]

NOTES: Each line in this found poem is from the following poets who read at the Asheville 100 Thousand Poets for Change event on September 28, 2013.

[1] Britt Kaufmann
[2] Barbara Gravelle
[3] Steve Brooks
[4] Jeff Davis
[5] Jessica Newton
[6] Jeff Davis
[7] Caleb Beissert
[8] Britt Kaufmann
[9] Jessica Newton
[10] Brian Sneeden

100TPC Quote Caleb Beissert

100TPC QUOTE Beissert

From 100 Thousand Poets for Change Asheville, a quote from a poem by Caleb Beissert: “A home where the family never can return…”

Asheville Poets represent 100 Thousand Poets for Change

100TPC2013

Here is your official invitation to join a global event called: 100 Thousand Poets for Change.

The Asheville event will be held September 28, 2013, 7 PM – 9 PM at Sly Grog Wine and Beer Lounge (The Downtown Market, 45 South French Broad Avenue, Asheville, North Carolina). Featured poets include: Caleb Beissert, Steve Brooks, Jeff Davis, Davon Dunbar, Barbara Gravelle, Shanita Jackson, Britt Kaufmann,  Matthew Mulder, Jessica Newton and Brian Sneeden.

Use the hashtag #100tpcAVL when sharing details about Asheville’s 100 Thousand Poets for Change event.

For more information, or if you have questions, please leave a comment. Thanks!

UPDATE: Here’s a PDF file of the event poster for 100 Thousand Poets for Change Asheville event next week. Download here: 100TPC AVL Poster.

Interview: Caleb Beissert on Beautiful translations of Federico García Lorca and Pablo Neruda

Beautiful by Caleb Beissert Caleb Beissert is a poet, translator and musician. His published work appears in International Poetry Review, Tar River Poetry, Asheville Poetry Review and Beatitude: Golden Anniversary, 1959-2009.

This week, Poetry at the Altamont celebrates the release of Caleb Beissert’s first book, Beautiful, a selection of poems by Pablo Neruda and Federico García Lorca translated into English. During the last few weeks, Beautiful was well received by enthusiastic audiences at Montford Books & More and Malaprop’s Books & Cafe and is a Small Press Distribution best-seller.

The Altamont theater doors open at 7:00 P.M. for Poetry at the Altamont. Admission is $5 at the door. Beer and wine sold at the bar and lounge will remain open for drinks after the reading. Event link.

UPDATE: Caleb Beissert is the featured guest of the Coffee with the Poet Series, Thursday, February 21st at 10:30 a.m. at City Lights Bookstore. Event link

Caleb graciously agreed to an interview to discuss poetry, translation work and Beautiful.

Coffeehouse Junkie Blog

First, for those who don’t know you, Caleb, please share a little about yourself and how you came to poetry.

Caleb Beissert

I arrived naturally at poetry. I had a strong interest in writing as a child, which stemmed from my mother’s and father’s both being journalists. They read to me constantly, even while I was in utero. I still love being read to, hence the poetry readings I attend. During my fugitive teenage years, I wrote notebooks full of song lyrics—songwriters such as Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Robert Hunter, Kurt Cobain, Roger Waters, and The Beatles among my influences. When I went to college and took a poetry writing class, I discovered I’d been writing poetry for years. Of course songwriting is a different beast, but one does inform the other.

Throughout my time at Western Carolina University, I studied writing, foreign languages, philosophy, music, art—I wasn’t satisfied with the notion of going to college to get a job, rather I wanted to learn everything I could for the sake of knowing. I began publishing my poetry, traveling abroad, corresponding with accomplished writers, and I participated in the Gilbert-Chappell Distinguished Poet Series.

My literary heritage largely came from the American Beats, especially Allen Ginsberg and Richard Brautigan; the British poets, namely Blake and Coleridge; and mystics, like Hafiz, Rumi, Kabir, Mirabai; as well as Walt Whitman, E.E. Cummings, W.S. Merwin, early on Shel Silverstein, and then later the great Hispanic poets, particularly Federico García Lorca and Pablo Neruda. Now I’m living in Asheville, writing, producing poetry events, and also working as a musician.

Coffeehouse Junkie Blog

How did the translation work of these two poets, Federico García Lorca and Pablo Neruda, come about?

Caleb Beissert

As I glossed over previously, I was at WCU studying poetry and foreign language when I began translating these two poets. It must have been my attraction to Surrealism that led me to García Lorca. I had read a few translations in Bly’s Leaping Poetry, eaten up Lorca’s lecture Theory and Play of the Duende, and fallen into Poema del cante jondo. I was fascinated by this idea of the duende and also with the marriage of poetry with music, seen in the influence of Andalusian flamenco music on his work.

An interest in Neruda also came through my gravitating toward Surrealism, though I must acknowledge that neither of these poets wrote exclusively or even primarily in this style. One day my Spanish professor assigned the students to attempt a translation of Neruda’s famous “Poema 20” from Veinte poemas de amor y una canción desesperada. I thoroughly enjoyed the assignment—probably the only one who did—and it was then I realized I could translate. From there, of course, the complexities of poetry translation began to unravel. I studied essays by Gregory Rabassa, John Felstiner, Margaret Sayers Penden, Eliot Weinberger, and read many bilingual or “bisexual” editions, as a good friend likes to call them.

Eventually, I timidly showed my translations to a few trusted poet friends/mentors, among them Dr. Mary Adams and Thomas Rain Crowe, who encouraged me to continue the work. It has been a process of frustration, learning and accomplishment. Many late nights of pulling out my hair. I’ve dabbled in other Spanish-writing poets, such as César Vallejo, Rafael Alberti, Pedro Salinas, Vicente Aleixandre, Nicanor Parra, and Manuel González Prada; however, it was García Lorca and Neruda I spent the most time with, grew to know them through their words, heard their voices, conversed in dreams, and eventually compiled enough English-language adaptations for two books.

Coffeehouse Junkie Blog

How the translation work inform the craft of your own poetry?

Caleb Beissert

I find myself writing odes to people and places I’ve never known. I’ve written poems to or after these poets, places and ideas from their poetry, even employed mimicry for effect sometimes, but going deeper, I’m sure it has changed the way I think about language, construct lines, choose words, though the translation process itself does that as well. I have developed my own poetry while spending a great amount of time with these poets, therefore their impact on my work is tremendous. It is hard for me to see, because often one must step away from his or her work to get an accurate picture of it, but I know the influence is there.

Peace Is a Flower: A Night of Poetry and Music

Peace is a flower – poetry and music

Tomorrow, 8:30 p.m. join James McKay, Laura Hope-Gill, Caleb Beissert, Pasckie Pascua, and Aaron Price at Battery Park Book Exchange & Champagne Bar, 1 Page Avenue, Asheville on SEPT 11, 8:30 to 11PM. This event is free to the public. Read poet and musician bios as well as other information on the Facebook events page. Link.

Last Night, Poetry at the Altamont – Featuring Evie Shockley

Evie Shockley reading at The Altamont Theater, Asheville, NC

If it is possible to be drunk on poetry, than I am still sobering up from last night’s event Poetry at the Altamont featuring Evie Shockley. It was quite a special night as Evie Shockley read selections from the new black and a half-red sea as well as some new poems in progress.

Other highlights include poems read by notable poets including Lee Ann Brown, Jeff Davis (who also hosted the event), Eric Steineger, Caleb Beissert and many others whom I have forgotten there names, but not their words. There were verses read about five drinks at a bar with reflections of a homeless man in a cardboard box home and another poem about bees and honey and lazy hippies squatting in someone’s home all summer.

I also read some poems last night. Earlier in that day I had mailed off a manuscript to a publisher and had intended to read selections from that manuscript, but I changed up what I read. I can’t tell you what I read. You’ll have to ask someone who was there last night at The Altamont.

It was such a pleasure to join this gathering of poets and share works in progress in sort of literary laboratory. Looking forward to the next gathering.

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

Poetry at the Altamont

Poet Laura Hope-Gill

Tonight from 7:00 p.m. until 8:30 p.m., Poetry at the Altamont continues with this month’s featured poet, Laura Hope-Gill.

It’s been awhile since I visited the The Altamont Theatre. I believe it was during last year’s Wordfest. It’s a gorgeous setting to hear poets read their work. I’m looking forward to tonight’s event.

Here’s more details about the event Poetry at the Altamont from their Facebook invite page:

Poetry at the Altamont is a reading series for poets and poetry lovers commencing on the third Monday of each month at seven o’clock in the evening at The Altamont Theatre in downtown Asheville. The event consists of a reading by the feature poet followed by an open microphone, for which readers may sign up and recite one or two short pieces. During the open portion of the event, we encourage new voices and accomplished poets alike to share what they have been working on, a space where writers have the opportunity to try out new works in front of an audience on a regular basis. Please join us for consistent, fine poetry in a setting that is equally fine.

Hosted by Jeff Davis and Laura Hope-Gill
Produced by Caleb Beissert and Aaron Price

$5 at door
Beer and wine served

(link)

Big week for poetry shows in Asheville

Poetry at The Altamont

Today at 7:00 p.m. Poetry at The Altamont is a NEW monthly series. Hosted by Laura Hope-Gill and Jeff Davis. $5 Cash at the door. The event consists of a full reading by a featured published poet followed by an open mic for new voices and accomplished poets alike.

Open Mic at the Vanuatu Kava Bar

Every Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. Hosted by poet and translator, Caleb Beissert. Poetry, comedy, spoken word and music. This is a poetry open mic, but we welcome all forms of artistic self expression.

Barbie Angell’s Bar Poetry Show & Benefit.

Saturday, February 25, 2012, 8:00 p.m. at Tressa’s Downtown Jazz and Blues. Event features Asheville Poet, Barbie Angell performing her charming, audacious “bar poetry” with special guest Asheville singer/songwriter Chelsea LaBate, known as Ten Cent Poetry. The evening is a benefit performance for Grateful Steps Foundation, a local nonprofit publishing house, bookshop and community space.