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 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

 

 

Spitting poetry at Grassroots

Day five

Several expressions are used in open mic circles when a poet or a singer songwriter is introduced to the audience. One of those expressions is, “Welcome, So-and-so to the stage. She going to bless the mic with her poetry.” Another expression often heard is, “Ya’ll give it up for What’s-his-name who is here to spit some poetry at you tonight.”

Last night I had the opportunity to read some recent, unpublished poems at the Grassroots open mic in Racine. That was the first time I have read at the Racine Arts Council ArtSpace Gallery (last summer I read some old poems at a Grassroots open mic at George’s Tavern). The poems seemed well received by at least a few people who talked to me at the end of the evening.

There was a time in my life when I used to read my work at open mics and other gigs at least once or twice a week. But those were different times and in a place far from here. Yet, the exercise of public speaking/reading returned quickly. There was fear in my mind that those skills had atrophied.

I will be reading at Woodland Pattern Book Center’s 22nd Annual Poetry Marathon & Benefit. It is a fundraising event. Your support is appreciated. It will be my second time reading at Woodland Pattern. For those interested attending and supporting the event, I will be reading on January 30th at 9 p.m. with a group of other poets — more details on that coming soon. If you would like to sponsor my reading, feel free to leave a note in the comments section or email me.

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.

9PM, open mic at the kava bar.