Poetry reading list for National Poetry Month, part two

Historic Battery Park Apartments, Asheville, North Carolina

Historic Battery Park Apartments, Asheville, North Carolina

As stated last week, I will continue the reading list for National Poetry Month even though it is May 1st. April was a brutal month. Though the plan was to compose thirty days of posts in April, the work/life balance — or chaos — of my life prohibited meeting that goal. But why restrict poetry to one month, right?

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.

Flood Gallery Fine Art Center, February 2007

The Flood Gallery Fine Art Center[1] 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.[2] 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.[3] 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.[4] 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,[5] 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.

NOTES:

[1Flood Gallery Fine Art Center poetry reading. http://www.floodgallery.org/poetryinthepresence.html
[2Read more about Britt Kaufmann and her work as a poet and playwright. http://www.brittkaufmann.com/poetry
[3Some 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
[5The reason for leaving my adopted hometown of Asheville, North Carolina is captured in this article, “Why I Left Asheville,” published in The Asheville Blade: http://ashevilleblade.com/?p=306

 

 

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/

 

 

[Podcast] Translating Visions & Dreams Into Art & Music

SEPT2014_iTunes_ImageHow does an artist translate visions and dreams into pigment on canvas? These and other topics are discussed with artist Eva Scruggs. Next, poetry readings and acoustic singer/songwriter sets are common at bookstores and cafés. Join me and take a glimpse behind the scenes of one of those events that takes place at Malaprop’s Bookstore in Asheville, North Carolina. Finally, visit the Grey Eagle music hall and meet Deborah Crooks as she shares a conversation about liberation and home.

Special thanks to the Anne Malin for permission to use her song “darling” for the music between each segments. Anne Malin is a folk musician from Boston, Massachusetts. Her albums “Bog Songs,” “AM” and “Vessel” are available on iTunes and Spotify. New releases and a special edition of the album “Bog Songs” with art by Projekt Katharine is available at her Bandcamp page which is annemalin.bandcamp.com.

Listen on:
PodOmatic: coffeehousejunkie.podomatic.com
SoundCloud: soundcloud.com/coffeehousejunkie

[Podcast] Re-release of episode 13

As mentioned last week, here is a re-release of episode 13 of the Coffeehouse Junkie audio podcast. This episode features the essay “The Field” as well as two poems that are discussed in the fourth session of the poetry writing workshop I directed at the The Flood Fine Arts Center in Asheville, North Carolina.

As a side note, each poetry writing workshop I lead concluded with a class chapbook featuring the best of the students’ work and a poetry reading. Additionally, the essay featured in this podcast is abridged and will be released in an expanded version in a forthcoming book.

Here is: Episode 013

As always, I look forward to your feedback. Post comments, question and/or requests in the comment section of this blog post and I will address it in the upcoming episode 15. Episode 14 will be re-released later this week. Thanks for listening!

[Podcast] Re-release of episode 12

As mentioned earlier this week, here is a re-release of episode 12 of the Coffeehouse Junkie audio podcast.

The Flood Fine Arts Center in Asheville, North Carolina was the home to poetry writing workshops I directed. One of the six-week workshops was called “Coffee at Albiani’s” and featured a syllabus and writing exercises. This episode features an essay from the syllabus entitled “The Echo” and two poems that were discussed during one of the sessions of the poetry writing workshop.

Listen to: Episode 012

If you have a question or request after listening to this episode please leave it in the comment section of this blog post and I will address it in the upcoming episode 15.

One final note: Episode 13 will be re-released early next week and episode 14 the end of next week. Thanks for listening!

The return of the Coffeehouse Junkie audio podcast is coming soon

Many, many moons ago in a far distant place there used to be a Coffeehouse Junkie audio podcast. For professional reasons I had to place it on hiatus for an indefinite period of time. In, short, I launched and produced nearly 500 audio podcasts for a national news group earning nearly 800,000 downloads in a little more than two years. Since those professional obligations no longer exist, it is time to resume some Coffeehouse Junkie audio podcasting.

There will be some new features to the audio podcast.

  1. A few topics that seem to be popular on this blog include writing, poetry and publishing. Since I have years of experience in the publishing industry, I will feature some episodes on a behind-the-scenes look at publishing.
  2. Additionally, I plan to open up the request lines (to use an antiquated terrestrial radio expression) . If you have read something on this blog that you would like me to address, I will plan an episode around that topic. Please include your name, Twitter handle and request in the comment section of this blog post.

I will re-release the last three episodes of  the Coffeehouse Junkie audio podcast in the next week or so to prime the pump for the relaunch. The last episodes released featured essays and poems that were presented and discussed in a poetry writing workshop I taught at the Flood Fine Arts Center in Asheville, North Carolina. Episode 12 will be re-released later this week, episode 13 early next week and episode 14 the end of next week.