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

 

 

Video: Traveling Bonfires poetry reading at Malaprop’s

Here’s a video of Pasckie Pascua from last week’s Traveling Bonfires poetry reading at Malaprop’s Bookstore/Café.

Always be prepared to read your poems

When I mentioned earlier today that you should join the Traveling Bonfires tonight at Malaprop’s, you really were invited to join the reading. Two of the three poets were unable to show up for tonight’s reading. The emcee of the poetry reading and founder of the Traveling Bonfires invited anyone in the audience to read poems. He asked me to read my poems as well.

I wasn’t prepared to read; only to listen. But no one else came prepared to read. So, I frantically dug into my old messenger bag and found two poetry chapbook manuscripts by other poets. For a brief moment I thought I would read from their manuscripts, but I didn’t want to read poems that weren’t ready for the public. Sandwiched between loose papers and a copy of Selected Cantos of Ezra Pound and Narrow Road to the Interior was my red notebook containing poem sketches and revisions. I had half of a thought to read selections from Pound and Basho, but in my notebook I found six poem sketches and revisions to test in front of an audience.

The moral of the story is this: always be prepared to read your poems and if you’re a poet in the Asheville area (or if you’re a poet traveling near the Asheville area) contact me or the Traveling Bonfires (travelingbonfires@yahoo.com) and we’ll find a space and a mic and a crowd of listeners.

Bonfires at Pritchard Park

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Feel free to download a full-size poster I designed for The Traveling Bonfires.
(measures: 11″x17″, resolution: 200 dpi, file size: 631kb):
[Download Poster Here]

Bonfires for Peace at Pritchard Park

Saturday, Aug 6, 2005
3pm to 10pm
Downtown Asheville, NC

Featuring:
Dashvara, Large Lewis, Phuncle Sam, Sunshine