The Annual Poetry Marathon is next weekend

The 24th Annual Poetry Marathon Benefit Reading for Milwaukee’s Woodland Pattern Book Center is next weekend, Saturday, January 27, 2018.

The time slot between 9 PM – 10 PM is when I’ll be reading some poetry. Others reading during that segment include: Patrick Branum, Andrew Cantrell, Nick Demske, Dan Godston, Sara Goodman, Marcy Rae Henry, Jennifer Karmin, Kimberly Lyons and Blake Nemec.

Please consider supporting the effort. Contact me for details. Or visit the links provided. Much gratitude!

The Annual Poetry Marathon is just weeks away

Woodland Pattern Book Center, 720 East Locust Street, Milwaukee, WI 53212

The 24th Annual Poetry Marathon Benefit Reading for Milwaukee’s Woodland Pattern Book Center is this Saturday, January 27, 2018.

Five reasons to support the poetry marathon:

  1. over 25,000 small press titles represented
  2. book titles include poetry, chapbooks, fine print materials, broadsides, and multicultural literature
  3. money raised supports Woodland Pattern’s 2018 programming in literature and the arts, including an after school program and youth summer camp
  4. enjoy 15 hours regional poets, writers, and lovers of the arts
  5. 150 poets and writers from Milwaukee and surrounding areas

If those five reasons are not enough, I will be reading during the Annual Poetry Marathon. Please consider supporting the effort. Contact me for details. Or visit the links provided. Much gratitude!

Congratulations to Marilyn Chin, Kwame Dawes, and Marie Howe

The Academy of American Poets announced their new Chancellors on Wednesday.

My education in American poetry continues.

For Christmas Day, the story behind Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”

Since the tradition curating advent poems[1] was started a few years ago, I found this story[2] particularly interesting.

NOTES:
[1] Advent Poems (or the 12 days of Christmas poetry), December 13, 2012, https://coffeehousejunkie.net/2012/12/13/2013-advent-poems-or-the-12-days-of-christmas-poetry/.
[2] Justin Taylor, “THE TRUE STORY OF PAIN AND HOPE BEHIND “I HEARD THE BELLS ON CHRISTMAS DAY”,” http://www.thegospelcoalition.org, December 21, 2014, accessed December 11, 2016 https://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/justintaylor/2014/12/21/the-story-of-pain-and-hope-behind-i-heard-the-bells-on-christmas-day/.

PODCAST: Poems and readings for the Fourth Sunday of Advent

The Winter Is Cold, Is Cold

by Madeleine L’Engle

The winter is cold, is cold.
All’s spent in keeping warm.
Has joy been frozen, too?
I blow upon my hands
Stiff from the biting wind.
My heart beats slow, beats slow.
What has become of joy?

If joy’s gone from my heart
Then it is closed to You
Who made it, gave it life.
If I protect myself
I’m hiding, Lord, from you.
How we defend ourselves
In ancient suits of mail!

Protected from the sword,
Shrinking from the wound,
We look for happiness,
Small, safety-seeking, dulled,
Selfish, exclusive, in-turned.
Elusive, evasive, peace comes
Only when it’s not sought.

Help me forget the cold
That grips the grasping world.
Let me stretch out my hands
To purifying fire,
Clutching fingers uncurled.
Look! Here is the melting joy.
My heart beats once again.[1]


This audio podcast features the poem “The Winter Is Cold, Is Cold” by Madeleine L’Engle and concludes with a selection from the Book of Common Prayer that is often read on Christmas Day.

NOTES:
[1] Source: The Winter Is Cold, Is Cold by Madeleine L’Engle
[2] Advent Poems (or the 12 days of Christmas poetry)

Exploring 12 Days of Advent poetry

Cathedral Square Park & Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist decorated for Christmas

When I saw Christmas decorations and trees begin to populate Milwaukee’s Cathedral Square Park as early as November 1st, I thought, Is it that time of year already? Unbelievable. With this weekend’s snowfall, the Cathedral Square Park’s decorated Christmas trees looks particularly Decemberish.

Screen shot of internet search

Earlier this month I searched online for some Christmas card ideas. Imagine my surprise when the search displayed a block print I created five years ago.

It seems so long ago and so far away. So much has happened in those few short years that it is difficult to catalog. Curiously, I clicked in the Pinterest link. Then I read the original blog post. It is the most visited post on the blog.

For the last few years, I have received modest feedback on a post I published titled “Advent Poems (or the 12 days of Christmas poetry).”[1] The most intriguing comment regarded a poem by W. S. Beattie. I could not locate the poem online. And the mystery of it excited me. Are there really poems people read that are not on the internet? I thought to myself. A lovely thought.

This year, a digital trail lead me to a PDF file posted by the Brentwood United Reformed Church.[2] Here is the poem recommended by a reader with the preface that the poem’s topic regards the misuse of Advent.

Advent Longing
by W.S. Beattie
These are the greedy days.
It used to be
That Advent was a longing fast,
A time to feel our need
in faith and tingling hope
And keen-eyed looking forward.
Now we cannot wait
But day by day and week by week
We celebrate obsessively
Clutching at Christmas.
When at last it comes,
The day itself,
Our glass is empty.
We have held the feast
Already, and the news is stale
Before it ever reaches us.
We cheat ourselves.
Yet – somehow – still we hope
In these spoiled days
That there may be a child.

It is a humble poem with a good reminder.

Another reader suggested the inclusion of T. S. Eliot’s “Journey of the Magi.”[3]

CCCA’s The Advent Project

And yet another reader pointed me in the direction of Biola University’s Center for Christianity, Culture, and the Arts (CCCA) The Advent Project.[4] I truly enjoy CCCA’s Advent project as it includes art, literature, music and video.

I need to revisit my “12 Days of Christmas” poetry list. Maybe next year it will expand to a “24 Days of Advent” poetry list. For now, please enjoy reading 12 days of Christmas poems.

  1. December 14 – “Annunciation” by Denise Levertov
  2. December 15 – “Advent Calendar” by Rowan Williams
  3. December 16 – “Advent” by Donald Hall
  4. December 17 – “Mosaic of the Nativity (Serbia, Winter 1993)” by Jane Kenyon
  5. December 18 – “The God We Hardly Knew” by Óscar Romero
  6. December 19 – “The House of Christmas” by GK Chesterton
  7. December 20 – “Into The Darkest Hour” by Madeleine L’Engle
  8. December 21 – “The Winter Is Cold, Is Cold” by Madeleine L’Engle
  9. December 22 – “Nativity” by John Donne
  10. December 23 – “A Christmas Carol” by Christina Georgina Rossetti
  11. December 24 – “Mighty Mercy” by John Piper
  12. December 25 – “For Christmas Day” by Charles Wesley

NOTES:
[1] Advent Poems (or the 12 days of Christmas poetry) https://coffeehousejunkie.net/2012/12/13/2013-advent-poems-or-the-12-days-of-christmas-poetry/
[2] Brentwood United Reformed Church, The Courier, December 2014/January 2015. Accessed December 11, 2017. http://www.brentwood-urc.org.uk/The%20COURIER%20-%20Dec%20January%202015.pdf
[3] The Poetry Archive, T. S. Eliot, “Journey of the Magi,” accessed December 11, 2017. https://www.poetryarchive.org/poem/journey-magi
[4] Biola University, Center for Christianity, Culture, and the Arts (CCCA), The Advent Project, accessed December 11, 2017. http://ccca.biola.edu/advent/2017/#day-dec-7

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

 

 

Poem 7: Always Departing

Poem 7: Always Departing

Poem 6: Saturday Night, Coffeehouse

Poem 6: Saturday Night, Coffeehouse

NOTES: Originally published in Rapid River Arts & Culture Magazine, April 2004. Unable to locate the printed artifact nor find a digital version on the publisher’s website, I photographed this draft of “Saturday Night, Coffeehouse.”