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.”

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/

 

 

Poem 5: Prairie Constellations

Poem 5: Prairie Constellations

Poetry reading list for National Poetry Month, intro

The best way to share poetry with people — who do not know that they may like poetry — is to start by reading the works of living poets. That is the basic idea of my poetry reading list for National Poetry Month.

Most books lists of are just lists. Promotional bullet points. Usually there is an image of the book or photo of the poet, a brief description or summary, sometimes even a list of credentials and awards, and a hyperlink to the poetic work or an online retail store. That is an approach I will try to avoid.

I read recently that the ancient Greeks and Romans enjoyed literature in a very different way than our modern culture — where we silently read books. The ancient poets read and/or recited their work out loud to a public audience.

So, 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.

Poem 4: Last night at the New French Bar

Poem 4: Last night at the New French Bar

The fourth poem, Last night at the New French Bar, was published in Crab Creek Review. It is part of seven published poems I am sharing during National Poetry Month. Somewhere I read that a poet should never explain a … Continue reading

Poem 3: Loneliness visits

Poem 3: Loneliness visits

For National Poetry Month I will share seven photos of published poems. The third poem, Loneliness visits, was published in ISM Quarterly.

Poem 2: Reading “My American Body”

Poem 2: Reading “My American Body”

Reading “My American Body” by W. K. Buckley by Matthew Mulder Fireflies sparkle outside. I see them through the living room window. It’s the time between times as I examine a new hole in my jeans and consider “Picking up … Continue reading