Flood Fine Arts Gallery poster design

Back in February, I came across an event poster I designed. Shot all the photos. Including the white elephant. It was a child’s toy. Laid out the type and and composed the image for the event.

The poster was almost almost tossed into the trash. Early spring cleaning. But that morning I heard Garrison Keillor read “Admiring Audubon’s Carolina Parakeets” by Rose McLarney on the February 6th podcast of The Writer’s Almanac. She was a featured poet at that Asheville event.

Memories of Asheville poetry readings returned to me. The night I heard Thomas Rain Crowe and Coleman Barks reading Hafiz and Rumi poems. Rose McLarney was a rising poet. The Flood Fine Arts Gallery provided the space and community for poets young and old to share and grow.

That summer grew me as well. June 16th, there were two poetry readings I did in Durham. Later that summer I enrolled in a 5-week writing course. And received a scholarship to attend a writers residency in Queen City.

Those were different times. All good memories. But what to do with this poetry event poster I designed?

Scrambled eggs and poets

Over two months of writing a poem a day

These are not scrambled eggs.

Have you ever typed a message into your smartphone and the autocorrect delivers an amusing sometimes intriguing option? That’s were the title of this post comes from. I was trying to text: scrambled eggs and toast please. Don’t ask. It’s been a long weekend, but I wanted to provide an update to a February post [1] where I detailed the number of poems submitted to publication and how many have been accepted. And the grand total is: none. I haven’t heard from all the publishers yet, but so far it has been rejection letters and emails. [2]

And now, scrambled eggs and poets.

It is a rare evening these days when I am able to attend a literary reading in my adopted hometown. The Juniper Bends Reading Series for May [3] featured Mandy Gardner, Collin Garrity, Rose McLarney and Jerry Stubblefield. I arrived late, but enjoyed a truly amazing reading. The highlight, for me, was Rose McLarney’s reading. It had been almost seven years since I first heard Rose McLarney read her poems at the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center. And since then, her acclaimed collection of poems was published by Four Way Books. [4]

After the reading concluded, and this is where things get a bit scrambled, I waited with others to chat with the poets and writers. The longer I waited the more I wanted to ask her about the publishing process. How did she manage to get her collection published? What tips would she recommend? You know, all those predictable, pithy questions unpublished poets ask published poets.

And then, like Billy Pilgrim, [5] I sort of time travelled. No longer standing inside the crowded Downtown Books & News, [6] it was night and I was walking up Eagle Street toward Pack Square Park with a poet how was asking me, “How do I get my poems published? What tips do recommend?” With my experience in publishing, I began telling her any information that I thought might help. And then, as we were parting ways, I was telling her not to sweat it, “When the poems are ready, the audience will be there.”

And then, I time traveled back to May 2013, it was night again. I walked to my auto as a SUV full of kids drove by with the windows down. Their ruckus noise spilt onto the street. They slowed and someone threw hot pennies at me. They sped away. Why do kids heat pennies with cigarette lighters and throw them at complete strangers? I entered my car and drove home saying, “When the poems are ready, the audience will be there.”

More scrambled eggs and poets.

Scrambled yet? Don’t worry. It’s Monday. You have the whole week ahead of you.

Let’s do some more time traveling. Last year, I provided some teasers for an upcoming book. [7] The manuscript is nearly novel length and I’ve sought out a couple editors to assist me. Truly, this is not a story I wanted to write, but it has found me and apparently an audience.

[1] So far, I’ve submitted almost 70 poems for publication. You can read the details in the post: 50 poems in 30 days
[2] Why do poets write, if not to be published? These thought have occupied my thoughts since last week’s post.
[3] Juniper Bends Reading Series
[4] Four Way Books
[5] Everyone knows who who that is, right? And if you have to google it, just know that it is not the American folk musicians from Atlanta.
[6] Downtown Books and News
[7] You may read the teasers here

Notes from last night’s poetry reading

Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center

Instead of writing an eloquent report of last night’s reading, I will just post the notes I scribbled into my notebook. Yeah, if you were there, I was the one with my head buried in a notebook frantically writing. Blame it on my ADD tendencies. Apart from running spell check these notes are as they generally appear in my notebook–complete with poor punctuation, abbreviated thoughts and for some odd reason attention poets’ fashion. Right on … here I go …

Chall Gray

Chall Gray
Breaks the ice nicely with a humorous poem about furniture and contrasts it with a poem about a brother and a sister who observe but do not talk about things. He wears a black long-sleeved button down shirt rolled up to the elbow–blue jeans–hair dark, pulled back into tight short ponytail. He ends with a moving homage to his departed father by asking “why.”

Ingrid Carson

Ingrid Carson
Begins with a poem asking what color is the American dream. “What Now” is read second. She wears a black top, wavy brown hair pulled back, framing her face. “What am I going to do now?” she asks and ends; “What am I going to do now?” Her last poem is in two parts; “Still Life” and “My Hands.” She reads, “a violence of flowers…” She reads with purpose and poise and through delicate lips and intense blue eyes as if to say, I know something you don’t know and I have the floor for a few more lines. “You have pushed the mind to the limits…” She concludes that beauty is found in the ugliest of things.

Thomas Rain Crowe

Thomas Rain Crowe
Wearing all black–he tunes up a wooden flute–poet is participant–reads a letter to the editor of a local newspaper in Jackson county–admits he spent a lot of time writing editors. He reads of beauty and uses metaphor–King Kong movie cements his argument to turn corporate development back to nature’s beauty. He next reads an extended haiku written for Steve Earl for some event last year. “What profit? What Price?” he asks. “We can do better than this,” he concludes the poem powerfully. His poem “Peace Will Come” is accompanied by the evening’s featured keyboardist, Steve Davidowski. “Peace will come one day” is lifted over the ambient keyboard harmonics–his reading intensifies. “When peace comes to stay” ends his poem. He steps back, places the flute to his lips and plays–the keyboardist joins the melody which concludes that session.

Emoke B'Racz

Emoke B’Racz
First poem is recited in Hungarian. “Fragmented Life” is about her father who she says is bigger than life–sometimes everyday. “Try not to talk about the time,” she reads. She reads about her father’s internment camp experience: “Now take that.” She shares of the hard life of the punished young men in those camps. “Silently he left.. to give your youth for democracy…taken…” She wears a white blouse, gold necklace with pendant, black suit jacket–1965–“Poets Among Each Other” translated and published in 1970-something (’76?). “This is how we stand my brothers,” she reads her translation. It’s a short work. She rolls her tongue across her lower lip from right to left frequently before saying “I could use some water” then reads her last poem of the evening.

15-minute intermission

Will Hubbard
Reads several poems–long brown hair wrapped behind his ears–as he gazes down upon his papers it rests on his shoulders like a hood–he reads a poem called “Porn” with cynical tones of humor and wry sensibility. “5 for 5 for 3 Straight” is his last poem “and one learns where to leave off” he reads. His left hand casually in his pants pocket, his right hand holds his loose-leaf manuscript. “Saying it how it was originally said…” He reads as one might read a tele marketer’s script.

Rose McLarney

Rose McLarney
She reads a collection of poems concerning the over development of Madison county–lose of land to corporate contractors–overgrowth of urban/suburban sprawl. “Shouldn’t fight … farms let them go,” she reads. Her thin lips clip her words nervously as if she is unaccustomed to public reading. She wears a black sleeveless top with flowing flowery patterned skirt–hair pulled back, leaving dark curls to cascade down the back of her neck. Her last poem: “… the peace of the American South.”

Laura Hope Gill

Laura Hope Gill
She tells of her BMC connections–reads “Ponco” with an eruption of words and demands social justice “when she was the question” referring to the dead old woman under a poncho many Americans saw after Hurricane Katrina–The image of a woman who died waiting for medical assistance in the aftermath of the hurricane that destroyed New Orleans. She wears hoop earrings, thin gold necklace upon her chest, low-cut white blouse and black sweater. She reads several poems of childhood witness “we slept in our bunk beds … spelled out in silk.” She reads about a stallion. She reads with proficiency and like Ingrid has a smile and sparkle in her eyes suggesting a joke that only she knows the punch line. Her speech skills draw several people forward in their seats. Or maybe its the hard wooden seats we all endure. “The wind of their grandfather’s song… ” she reads.

Glenis Redmond

Glenis Redmond
“Enter through the door of war…” she begins after adjusting the microphone. “Grief is an uttering tongue.” She begins with a powerful recitation. She is a performer–practiced in public settings. Her second poem is “Lifting” about the Kenilworth slave cemetery near her neighborhood. “Bid us ride,” she reads. By far she is the most charismatic poet of the evening. “Looking back to the land where courage was born.” Due to the lateness of the evening she says she’ll only read three poems. Her next poem is about Nina Simone: “bitter aint born black.” Her final poem is a recitation: “Every time I hear King speak I feel a rumble…” she starts and concludes, “We shall.”