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. 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.”
Another poet I wrote with and read alongside is Jessica Newton. 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 brought examples of haibun. 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. 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?
No one can celebrate
a genuine Christmas
without being truly poor.
The self-sufficient, the proud,
those who, because they have
everything, look down on others,
those who have no need
even of God- for them there
will be no Christmas.
Only the poor, the hungry,
those who need someone
to come on their behalf,
will have that someone.
That someone is God.
Without poverty of spirit
there can be no abundance of God.
Immensity cloistered in thy dear womb,
Now leaves His well-belov’d imprisonment,
There He hath made Himself to His intent
Weak enough, now into the world to come;
But O, for thee, for Him, hath the inn no room?
Yet lay Him in this stall, and from the Orient,
Stars and wise men will travel to prevent
The effect of Herod’s jealous general doom.
Seest thou, my soul, with thy faith’s eyes, how He
Which fills all place, yet none holds Him, doth lie?
Was not His pity towards thee wondrous high,
That would have need to be pitied by thee?
Kiss Him, and with Him into Egypt go,
With His kind mother, who partakes thy woe.
Last weekend, the fields around the village where I live started to turn from green to harvest gold. Like the changing of the season, I noticed the first uptick in traffic to this web log. Or rather to one post in particular — Advent Poems (or the 12 days of Christmas poetry).
It is April 15th. If you are participating in the 30 poems in 30 days challenge, than you are half way there!
Some of the results of the daily discipline of writing looks more like sketches rather than fully composed poems. Nothing yet looks like a Coleridge “Kubla Khan” or a Ginsberg “Howl” or even a Bashō haiku. A few sparkling lines, but a lot of raw material.
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…
This is the second time I will be reading poetry at the Woodland Pattern Book Center. If you are so inclined, you may sponsor me as I read poetry during the 9 -10 PM portion of the marathon. Details on sponsorship is here.
Or join the event and hear some of the poets in the area and beyond. Last year, if I recall correctly, some of the poets drove from as far as Madison to read at the marathon. Hope to see you there.