If you’re interested in a little Friday night poetry, please check out one of these streams. Karen Head (Birthday Girl!) and I are reading tonight at 8 p.m. ET.
Last night, Poetry Atlanta and Georgia Center for the Book, in cooperation with the Decatur Public Library, put on a virtual poetry reading featuring Mike James, Julie E. Bloemeke, and yours truly. It was a really cool experience. I actually didn’t suffer stage fright for once, so I count that as a win. Because I couldn’t see the audience it was like I was reading to myself.
I read poems from What Magick May Not Alter (gotta plug the book!), and kept my set short and sweet (only 13 minutes) so that I’d be leaving the audience wanting more. And hopefully they wanted so much more they went to the Madville Publishing website or Amazon and ordered the book. 😉
- “Summer Portrait, 1912”
- “They Say”
- “Elegy for Cole”
- “Bonham Ferry Comes to Call”
- “Caddo Lake Elixir”
- “Buck Moon”
- “Harvest Moon”
If you missed the reading and would like to see it, please click on the link below. My reading begins at 37:37, but of course you’d miss Mike’s and Julie’s readings, and you wouldn’t want to do that. (Julie is reading from her first full-length collection Slide to Unlock.)
Today’s poem from What Magick May Not Alter is about love, longing, and hope. It centers on the dreams of the eldest Sibley daughter, Maggie, as she participates in the ritual of planting a daffodil at Old Wives’ Oak in the hopes her true love will be made known to her in Spring. I like this poem because I love how both Maggie and Vidalia believe in romance and the magick of the process of planting a bulb, and Lulah could care less.
I hope you enjoy it!
Since all poetry readings are canceled for the foreseeable future, I thought I would take the opportunity to read a few poems over the next several days from my new book What Magick May Not Alter.
This poem called “Catfish Moon,” named after the full moon in August (which is technically the Sturgeon Moon, but this is poetry, and we take liberties).
(Also, the picture looked backwards when I was filming it, but it’s correct when you watch the video, so forget my little “backwards” comment.)
If you like the video, or this blog, please feel free to share it near and far!
I mentioned a few blog posts ago that I decided to forego reading any poems from my manuscript at the Decatur Book Festival, because it’s really hard to excerpt pieces from a narrative–let’s be honest, the book is a verse novel, and so many of the poems are interdependent (except maybe the Moon Poems in it), that even reading sevearal in narrative-arc-order wouldn’t make much sense. How do you get invested in characters without hearing the WHOLE THING? I don’t think it’s possible. (I suppose, if I ever get it published, I will really have to figure out how to present the poems in a way that makes sense for poetry readings. But that’s just not an issue right now, so it’s clearly on the back burner.)
Anyway, at DBF, I read a handful of prose poems as I planned to. I’ve been writing a number of them in the last year or so, along with the pieces of flash fiction and flash nonfiction. (Actually, writing the prose poems might have been the catalyst for getting serious about fiction and nonfiction, now that I think about it.)
I’m not sure why prose poems are resonating with me so much–when I read them, I respond to their “quirky sensibility,” and the fact that they tend often towards absurdity and repetition (as well as the other things we expect in poetry, like sound and image and metaphor), and I like when I can write with a little bit of abandon, and try to tap into writing on the lighter (nuttier?) side. Maybe that’s just my state of mind in the last year or so! I’ve certainly gone out of my way to read a lot of prose poetry this past year, and I like what happens when I try writing it.
As promised…the Set List! (You can find links to many of these on my Online Poems & Writing Page.)
- This Is Not a Poem About a Blank Page
- Weed ’em and Reap
- How to Mend a Broken Heart
- When the Wolf Bit Off the Fingers of My Left Hand
Regarding readings, I was once described (by someone with excellent poetic delivery) as being a “diffident wise-ass,” and told that my performance tended to be sly and snarky between my poems, undercutting the presentation of the poems themselves. I personally don’t mind being considered a diffident wise-ass–despite the fact that a body could argue that the definitions of both words would seem to cancel each other out–because it’s an accurate critique of my whole personality, and anyway, I’m nothing if not a contradiction.
But since he said that to me, I’ve tried to give my poems the gravitas they deserve, and not be so snarky in my delivery. I think I mostly succeeded this past Saturday at the DBF, but I’m sure I said a few snarky asides. No one’s perfect…and anyway, I can’t help myself. No one would recognize me if I was perfectly serious.
Finally…as for the photos… well, I forgot to bring my camera and had to settle with using the phone, and I often get blurry pics on it. I apologize to the photo subjects, who are all much more beautiful than they appear here!
Here are Tammy Foster Brewer, Robert Lee Brewer, and Andrea Jurjević (and Bob Wood in the foreground of Andrea’s photo).
Here are Kodac Harrison, Dan Veach, and Rupert Fike (listening to Andrea’s poetry with rapt attention).
Last, but not least, may I present “Still Life with Bob’s Hand.” 😉 Here he’s guarding his stack of copies of The Awkward Poses of Others, which, if you haven’t read, get thee to Amazon immediately and purchase a copy–especially if you like movies and art and ekphrastic poetry.
And with that, I’ve no more to say about the Decatur Book Festival. Until next September, that is.
I’m not sorry the Decatur Book Fest has been put to bed for another year. There, I’ve said it—excoriate me all you will, but after nearly ten years of participating in the Local Poet’s Stage, there’s really nothing new and energizing about it. It epitomizes the term de rigueur. Been there, done that, got the poetry chapbook.
Don’t get me wrong—I truly like listening to my fellow poets—I thought Tammy Foster Brewer’s work was especially good this time—and I know I have her book around here someplace and I really need to re-read it. Of course I enjoyed Robert Lee Brewer’s work too (I laughed out loud at the “Love Song of Lt. Commander Data”) and also Andrea Jurjević’s poetry—I like to hear them as writers and experience them as readers, which is why I always corral them for the 10 o’clock hour. I find something new every time I listen to them—and that’s great. And it’s amazing to listen to so many Atlanta poets just in general. There’s a wealth of poetry here, and we can all thank Kodac Harrison’s work with the Local Poet’s Stage for bringing it to such a lively audience.
I always want to stick around for the entire day, but it’s complicated by an uncooperative body. I did stay for the 11 o’clock hour, a medley of poets including Dan Veach and Karen Paul Holmes and Kodac (who, being a spoken-word/ performance poet recited both of his poems to the delight of the audience). One poet who read with whom I wasn’t familiar at all was Christopher Martin, who seemed like a good ol’ Georgia boy, but he had a real narrative sense to writing, which I always respond to. (I wish I had thought to buy one of his books. For once I was carrying cash.)
I started to linger for the 12 o’clock hour (with the goal of staying through at least 2 p.m., so I could hear Karen and Bob)… except suddenly I was feeling anxious and light-headed, and that spoon-scooping-out-my-eye pain (indicating an oncoming migraine) hit me, and I knew I had to leave.
After all these years, the post-DBF reading-migraine makes me think it’s like some kind of psychosomatic response…I know for sure I’ve gotten one the last 4 years I’ve done this. I don’t know what to attribute the migraine to—if it’s the venue, being outside on the patio, exposed to street noise (and let’s not forget Java Monkey has shitty coffee, though their frosted mint lemonade is terrific, I discovered), or if it’s the heat the longer the day gets (that’s always an issue, though the morning started cool enough), or if it’s just all the people who eventually fill in around me and I get antsy and hemmed in (actually, I’m almost sure that’s a main reason)—but SOMETHING kicks in, and makes me all Decatur Book Fest grrr-y/ angsty, and I have to GET OUT.
The problem with that DBF migraine is I missed a lot of local poets I’d have loved to hear. Of course, Collin and Karen are giving a reading on Sept. 30th (which, assuming I don’t have a tennis match on that day, I plan to attend), so missing them this past Saturday is less egregious than missing, say, Christine Swint, whom I generally only see at DBF. (And who I was so sorry to miss this time, because I’m sure she read poems that had to do with her Camino journey, and those I really wanted to hear.)
I suppose I should have taken a prophylactic Imitrex to head off the inevitable migraine (I get migraines ALOT, and I generally carry Imitrex with me just in case), but I didn’t think about it, and thus, just as all my friends were up to read, I had to go. But what can you do?
As far as my own reading went, I think it was fine. About eight people were in the audience when I went on—mostly friends of Tammy’s—though my former supervisor and now dear friend Shannon Dobranski showed up just to hear me (I know it was just to hear me, because she left right after I left the stage), and I can’t tell you how touched I was. It was so unexpected to see her in the audience, and it meant a lot that she showed up because at least I had someone to read to who wasn’t just there waiting in the queue to read after me. And Bob showed up half-way through, too, when before, he emailed that he wouldn’t be coming, so that was a nice surprise. I’m used to reading to an imaginary audience, so to have two friends there was two more than I’ve had before, and it was nice.
I’ll post the set list tomorrow, as well as some photos, as promised. I feel a lie-down calling to me now.