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.


[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 10: Always Departing

Poem 10: Always Departing

Acoustic music and poetry

If you were to match a musician with a poet for an evening of culture and entertainment, who would they be?

A month ago I noticed this ad:

An evening of acoustic music and spoken word/poetry at Pepperdine University

An evening of acoustic music and spoken word/poetry at Pepperdine University[1]

Who wouldn’t want to attend this event? Two great artists on one stage for one evening. Makes sense to me.

Acoustic music and poetry fit together. Nearly a decade ago, I participated at a bookstore café event with musicians.[2] It is something I really enjoyed doing. The marriage of poetry and music resonates with an audience—especially an audience who does not know that they might enjoy poetry.

A few years ago, the Rooftop Poets (somewhat legendary) roof garden book launch and poetry performance featured jazz to accompany an evening of poetry.[3]  Three poets and two musicians joined for a lively evening of poetry, music and light refreshments.

What about you? As a poet, who would you love to work with for an evening of acoustic music and poetry? I have my wish list. What about you?

NOTES: [1] An evening of acoustic music and spoken word/poetry
[2] Malaprop’s Music/Poetry Gig Meditations
[3] A poetry reading and jazz show on the Roof Garden of the Battery Park Hotel

Limited edition – Rooftop Poets poetry book

Rooftop Poets: limited edition poetry book

Limited edition poetry book

In September 2010 an idea was born to hold a poetry reading under a full moon at the Roof Garden of the historic Battery Park Hotel. Three weeks after that September afternoon, sixty people attended an invite-only poetry reading, book-signing and jazz show on Friday, October 22, 2010. The event was publicized almost exclusively through Twitter, Facebook and word-of-mouth and featured Asheville, North Carolina poets Barbara Gravelle, myself (Matthew Mulder) and Brian Sneeden with special musical performance by Vendetta Creme and Aaron Price. And thus, Rooftop Poets was born in Asheville under a full moon.

Since the Roof Garden reading, the Rooftop Poets have been invited to read at various venues and interviewed for newspaper and television. Brian’s poem “The Temple” (included in Rooftop Poets poetry book) went on to be the Mountain Xpress’s first place winner in their 2011 poetry contest.

If you missed the memorable evening last October, there are still a few copies of the limited-edition, 64-page book. You may purchase copies at Malaprop’s.

Rooftop Poets is a limited-edition, 64-page book of poems featuring the work of three Asheville, North Carolina poets.

Barbara Gravelle, author of several poetry books including, Keepsake, Dancing the Naked Dance of Love, and her latest collection of poems, Poet on the Roof of the World.

Matthew Mulder, one of the original members of the Traveling Bonfires, his poetry and prose have appeared or are forthcoming in Crab Creek Review, Small Press Review, The Indie, H_NGM_N, and other publications.

Brian Sneeden has produced, designed or written for more than a hundred theatrical performances. He is the current director and MC of Asheville Vaudeville.

And the Winner of the 2011 Mountain Xpress Poetry Prize is…

MtnX 04 06 11 cover

The Poetry Show featured in the Mountain Xpress Apr. 6-12, 2011 issue

Selected from ten finalists by Keith Flynn, founder and managing editor of Asheville Poetry Review, Brian Sneeden’s “The Temple” won the 2011 Mountain Xpress Poetry Prize. Congratulations Brian!

Brian shared double duty Friday night at the 2011 Mountain Xpress Poetry Show as he and I were invited as members of the Rooftop Poets to read at the event as part of “the next generation” of Asheville poets.

The Poetry Show provided an excellent environment to read and hear local poetry. Each one of the finalists read well-crafted verse; from laundry to bath tubs. Laura Hope-Gill kicked off the evening with a wonderful collection of poems. It was also a special delight for me to hear Matt Owens and Mesha Maren of the Juniper Bends reading series present their work. I’ll spare you an event review. But I will mention that Jaye Bartell was the evening’s host and I would like to thank the person whose cell phone rang incessantly during the reading of my poem “The Last Chestnut Tree.” Without you I wouldn’t have been able to pull off that performance.

A wonderful and full evening provided by the Mountain Xpress team and talented local poets!

View of Asheville from the Roof Garden

The sun is setting. The full moon is rising. The room is set up for tonight’s poetry reading and jazz show. The dark mocha stout cupcakes with…

Rooftop Poets party tonight, 8 p.m.

Battery Park Hotel

It’s 7:30PM! The doors are open and guests are arriving outside the Battery Park Hotel. Time to make my way to the Roof Garden.

Rooftop Poets: the doors are open

Roof Garden Ballroom

Time to set up the Roof Garden of the Battery Park Hotel for tonight’s Prohibition-era poetry reading and jazz show.More event details are here: link.
Poetry at the Roof Garden

Rooftop Poets Event Program


The Rooftop Poets event has begun