Stone Soup @The Bards Town, 5:30p tonight!

From the facebook invite:

“Drop by The Bard’s Town for this month’s line-up of poets,
April Fallon, Darlene Campbell and John James.
Be ready to hear the most unique voices of these talented poets, who will amaze and astound with stories that will linger in your thoughts for a very long time.
And don’t forget to sign up for open-mic. These spots fill up fast, so get there early to sign up.
Doors open at 5:00pm.”

Click on over to John James’ WordPress page to read poems, etc. He’s also one of the minds behind Speak Social.

Jimmy Besseck Gives the Low Down on Megaphone Jones and “The Freaky Shit”

Jimmy Besseck is the author of three chapbooks, two of poetry: The Lead Standard (Goodwill Zine) and Stand in the Street Part One: Can’t Shut Off Neon Moon (on Besseck’s self-run “Official Bootlegs”) as well as a collection of short stories titled Bus Boy Moments (Official Bootlegs). Jimmy is currently working on Bus Boy Moments 2 and will be reading this weekend along with Conyer Clayton, Mike James, and William Freeman at an event titled “Megaphone Jones Concluded” @ Quills Coffee (327 Cardinal Blvd. Louisville, KY) 7pm Saturday night (w/music by Alex Glasnovic). Besseck will be releasing his Megaphone Jones spoken word cassette, which includes readings from all three chapbooks. Keep Louisville Literary shook Jimmy down for the secrets to his comedic/poetic success:

Keep Louisville Literary:  Since your short stories relay the more morbidly entertaining parts of your history, we won’t pry. But how did you get started with writing?

JB: I was interested in writing early-on. In high school, ninth grade, I took a creative writing course. But when I moved from Berea to Louisville, I had a vague aspiration to do theater. That faded away… and then I found “Louisville Speak Easy” at Carly Rae’s. My material went over well that first time, and then immediately Divinity Rose asked me to be a featured reader; that series became Sub Rosa. The crowd response pushed me forward.

KLL: Did you consider collecting your poems before June Leffler and company (of the sadly departed Goodwill Zine) approached you?

JB: Sure, I’d thought about it. When June approached me in December of 2010 I had a [manuscript] that I was considering submitting to Sarabande [Books]. But Goodwill Zine said they would publish my chapbook for sure, and Sarabande [had] a contest with a reading fee. Also, I didn’t have enough material for a full length to send [to the contest].

KLL: Your poems and stories really take shape at readings; it may even be safe to say that your writing becomes script for your performance on the microphone. Did that spontaneously happen as you got used to reading or is it premeditated?

JB: To a degree… I really don’t think of the poems as performance pieces. I’m surprised to hear that; people have said that to me [before]. I’m actually holding back; trying not to do a [one-man] story telling act. If voices are necessary, I will let them happen, but it’s not my intent.

KLL: Anyone can come to a reading, slip you a few bucks under the table, and pick up a chapbook, but give us the low-down on your spoken word tape, Megaphone Jones. Are you charging rock-star prices on this thing? Are you selling tape decks? Can we expect a digital download to be available at some point?

JB: The cassettes will be $5; [it’s a] limited to of thirty with a digital download included. Just the download will cost $2.

KLL: There’s an alleged rumor that you took elocution lessons to overcome your southern accent. Care to comment? [KLL disclaimer: This question was meant as a lark, but the answer was surprising and interesting. In one of his poems, Besseck is questioned about his lack of accent.]

JB: Throughout high school I lost the southern accent [gradually], partially due to theatre. I was born in Georgia then moved to Appalachia. Kids in Virginia made fun of me; not all southern accents are equal. Their making fun of me had something to do with it.

KLL: Finally, tell our readers everything you know about self-publishing.

JB: I’m still learning a lot myself at this point. The idea came in stages. It started when I started writing Busboy Moments. I came up with James Whitney Best as a pen name. My first self publishing endeavor was a pamphlet of my short story “The Freaky Shit”. It was two pages sliced then stapled at the corner. It was kind of an experiment of an avatar in real-time. I left those in public places and waited for e-mail on my James Whitney Best account.

I decided to buy the binding machine when I was in the paper store buying a paper cutter. I knew I would save up to buy it when I saw it. I taught myself how to use it; the instructions were lacking. I watched YouTube videos. Every step in the binding process is a chance to destroy what you’re making. But I want to make improvements. I want to look into other forms of book making. As frustrating as the process is, it’s also fun. I look [at my chapbooks] and know I could make something aesthetically better and also more functional.
Bring some cash with you to “Megaphone Jones Concluded” @ Quills Coffee (327 Cardinal Blvd. Louisville, KY) 7pm Sat. 9/29 if you want to grab a textual or audio copy of Besseck’s journey into the hilariously strange yet familiar.

KY Poet Laureate Maureen Morehead @UofL’s Ekstrom Library Tonight!

Current KY poet laureate and UofL alumnus Maureen Morehead will read tonight in the UofL Ekstrom Library Chao Auditorium at 7:30pm. This is a FREE event.

Maureen Morehead is the author of four poetry collections: In a Yellow Room, Our Brothers’ War, A Sense of Time Left and A Melancholy Teacher. She also holds a doctorate in English from UofL and has been published in a plethora of literary journals and magazines.

Readings in and around Louisville this week!

Tonight (9/26) you can catch a wicked open-mic at Haymarket Whiskey bar (311 E. Market st. Louisville, KY) at 8pm or head over to Headliners music hall (1386 Lexington Rd. Louisville, KY) at 7pm and bring a story (or just your ears) for the Moth storySLAM; theme: “Unintended”.

Tomorrow (9/27) at Al’s Bar (601 N. Limestone, Lexington, KY) Lynelle Edwards and Kasia Pater will read at Holler Poetry Series #52 with musical guest Egon Danielson. 8pm. I’m pretty sure there’s an open-mic to start.

Saturday (9/29) at 7pm @ Quills coffee (327 W. Cardinal Blvd. Louisville, KY) Jimmy Besseck will conclude his three-part reading series with the release of the Megaphone Jones spoken word cassette. As always, the self-made man-poet will be selling his “Official Bootleg” brand chapbooks under the table, for cheap. Conyer Clayton, Mark James, and William Freeman will also read. Music by Alex Glasnovic.

Sunday (9/30) at 5:30pm head over to The Bards Town (1801 Bardstown Rd. Louisville, KY) for Stone Soup, hosted by Sheri Wright. This month features John James, April Fallon, and Darlene Campbell. Get there early if you want to read or perform on the open-mic.

IUS Faculty Readers @ Java Bardstown, Oct. 6th. 7pm.

is proud to reach over the river and bring you talented readers from Indiana University Southeast!

Jack Ramey
(author of “The Future Past” and “Death Sings in the Choir of Light”)
Nettie Farris
(pub. in Journal of Kentucky Studies, Louisville Review, and Appalachian Heritage)
Michael Jackman
(pub. in New Southerner, etc.)
Sarah White-Thielmeier
(pub. in Merge and Pisgah Review)
Steve Bowman
(pub. in The Review, The Legacy, & Amarillo Bay)

October 6th at 7pm
Java Brewing Co. 1707 Bardstown Rd. Louisville, KY 40205   PH: 502-384-3555

All events @JavaBardstown feature a $5 wine special: $5 glasses, $5 off bottles. Java Brewing also server locally roasted artisan coffee drinks, crêpes, pastries and beer.

Poet Kiki Petrosino on “Fort Red Border” + her forthcoming “Hymn for the Black Terrific”

Kiki Petrosino will read with fellow poet Kyle Thompson next Friday, Sept. 21st @JavaBrewing (1707 Bardstown Rd.) as part of the Speak Social reading series. Keep Louisville Literary contacted Ms. Petrosino to discuss her debut collection Fort Red Border (published locally by Sarabande Books in 2009) and recent projects:

Keep Louisville Literary: The title sequence of your book Fort Red Border, places Robert Redford (the name  of which your book title is an anagram) as the paramour of the narrator. I imagine that you chose him, rather than Sean Connery or another distinguished elder actor, as your subject for specific reasons.

Kiki Petrosino: The Redford figure emerged as a kind of “cure” for the loneliness of my particular speaker. In the simplest terms, imagination is a way for her to conjure up some company. In the series, “her” Redford takes on varying shades of reality and unreality, kind of flickering there, between those two states.

KLL: Movie stars often take on characteristics of or seem to embody their most famous roles.  Considering all the dangerous/charming characters Mr. Redford has played, what is the function of his presence in your poems? Is his role in your poem supposed to solicit the collective cultural impression of him?

KP: Actually, that collective familiarity was a constraint that I worked against in writing this series. Rather than rely on the reader to supply what they might already know about “Redford,” I wanted to give this interlocutor characteristics that would speak to the specific condition of my speaker. She’s really the star of that series. It’s her desire to speak, the urgency of her loneliness that gives rise to the poems.

KLL:   Your work consistently references daily modern life in a light hearted banter, even when contemplating broad social concerns and broad swaths of human emotion and experience. Can you tell us about this unique approach?

KP: Daily life is often absurd, strange, and hilarious. There has to be room to express some of that in poetry. I tend to produce poems that leave room for laughter, even when I’m not intending to be funny. When I try to be too serious, I just end up tripping over my clown shoes. 

KLL: In some of your poems, the narrator’s search for answers often begins with an explication of someone else’s emotions. Is this done with the intention to prepare the reader for climax or catharsis, or are you insinuating a history to add depth to the story-in-progress?

KP: I don’t know. It could be that my speakers have a (Good? Bad?) habit of comparing their stories to those of others as a way of processing and/or framing their own emotions. In many ways, the speakers of my poems are outsiders. They feel distanced from the world we might describe as “normal” or “mainstream.” What they know about love and loss comes from their own experiences, yes, but also from listening to other people’s stories.  

KLL: You are a graduate of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop; arguably the largest and most well known MFA program in the U.S. Could you tell us how working in that setting, with so many prestigious teachers and talented peers, shaped Fort Red Border?

KP: I wrote many of the poems in my first book while a student at the Workshop. It was an amazing experience from beginning to end, principally because the Workshop brought me into the global community of writers. The years I spent as a graduate student—and, later, as a program assistant at the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program—were formative of my poetic sensibilities. But living in Iowa City also taught me a lot about what it means to be a supportive member of an artistic community. Now that I’m an assistant professor at the U of L, I try to emulate the community-building values I learned in Iowa so that my students can also benefit. 

KKL: Finally, can you tell us anything about your collection due out next year from Sarabande?

KP: My new book, Hymn for the Black Terrific, explores the dangers of obsession, particularly those which focus on the female body. The book contains three series of poems that alternately meditate on artistic identity; on issues of race; and on food &eating.

Kiki Petrosino is an Assistant Professor at the University of Louisville, where she teaches literature and creative writing.  Author of a poetry chapbook The Dark is Here (Forklift, Ohio, 2011), and a collection of poems, Fort Red Border (Sarabande Books, 2009), she holds an M.A. from the University of Chicago and an M.F.A. from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.  Kiki also co-edits the electronic poetry journal Transom. You can find her work in Tin House, The Harvard Review, The New York Times and elsewhere.

Speak Social progenitors speak up about their reading series!

“Speak Social” is the newest reading series in Louisville, KY. Co-curated by John James and Sarah Maddix, the series features local writers, two per event, as well as an up-and-coming local musician. These events take place at Java Brewing Co. or “Java Bardstown” (1707 Bardstown Rd.), are open to the public, and best of all free! Keep Louisville Literary corresponded with John and Sarah to discover the origins of Speak Social, where the series is headed, and  a little bit about its progenitors.

KLL: What are your personal backgrounds concerning spoken word events and/or literature, and how does this shape Speak Social?

John James: Before we started Speak Social, I had just moved back to Louisville from Brooklyn, New York, where I completed my [MFA]and hosted a reading series called Metro Rhythm. [It] was quite similar to [Speak Social], but instead of an open-mic we featured M.F.A. candidates. Being in NYC, where there are several topnotch programs, there was never a dearth of talented young readers. Plus, being at the center of America’s literary culture, we were able to attract some really amazing “headlining” readers—Mark Strand, Mary Jo Bang, and Timothy Donnelly, to name a few. It was sad to give up the series when I left, but it’s in good hands and is going on its fourth season this year. So I’d say it was primarily that experience that’s shaped Speak Social for me. It taught me how to host a reading, how to promote it, what problems to anticipate, and how to contact [potential] readers. I’d wanted to start something similar to that here, where I perceived a lack of such literary events, but didn’t find the motivation until Sarah contacted me about it.

Sarah Maddix: Though I’m not an aspiring writer, I adore poetry, and enjoy attending all sorts of literary events… I’ve found that there’s a bit of disconnect between academia, aspiring writers and those who just enjoy literature. It’s a shame, for example, that the same few people will frequent either Sarabande (book’s reading series at hotel 21c) or [the InKY series]—two established series that I love attending—and there’s not much overlap between them. So my interest in starting Speak Social grew from a desire to see Louisville’s literary scene become a bit more inclusive. John and I strive to make Speak Social an inviting space that will nurture community and make literature accessible to all kinds of folks.

KLL: How do you think Speak Social fits with other, older Louisville reading series such as InKY or Sarabande’s series at 21c?

SM: First of all, I really enjoy them both. InKY was the first reading series in Louisville that I ever attended (and still do) and we even used their event structure—an open mic, featured readers, and music—as a guide in developing Speak Social. And I have Sarabande’s series at 21c to thank for my recent discovery of Ada Limón, an amazing poet. Because we have such respect for these series, John and I have no interest in trying to compete with them for an audience. Rather, we want to create some intermingling between these two established series, [and others] such as Subterranean Phrases and Stone Soup. Our goal is to see Louisville develop a vibrant arts scene that encourages creativity, diversity, and community.

KLL: Are there any differences that make Speak Social unique?

JJ: Yes and no. In terms of atmosphere, we’ve tried to model Speak Social after the Holler Poets Series in Lexington. If you’ve ever been, you know that Holler always draws a huge crowd. But more importantly, these people laugh, they cry, they yell out loud. It’s a lot of fun! Most readings aren’t like that at all, which is where I think we differ from your average poetry event. I’ve been to so many readings, especially in NYC, where I just wanted to fall asleep. I’d find myself working my way to the bottom of my glass rather than listening to the readers. Sarah and I want to avoid that at all costs. What we’ve aimed to do with this series is to play up the social aspect of poetry readings—hence the title, “Speak Social.” We encourage our audience to shout, clap, and hoot. However the work strikes them, we want to see that emotion. We also host a party following every reading, at which we hope to foster conversation about the work, but also about class, race, philosophy, and aesthetics—all the social and intellectual concerns that encompass the writing we’ve heard that night.

KLL: Tell me a bit about your upcoming readers for September and why you chose them.

JJ: In September we’re featuring Kyle Thompson and Kiki Petrosino, with music by Mike James of the Louisville band “Been to the Gallows”. I’ve known Kyle for some time, first as a poet, and only later as a person, but he’s never failed to intrigue me. His poems are so strange, often experimental, and yet they usually offer a narrative. He has one, an older one now, called “Fable of the Snails,” which was published in AGNI. That one does tell a story, but it’s more of a slanted glimpse into human history than an actual story about snails… He read at the Writer’s Block festival last fall, but I was out of town, so asking him to read was my way of getting to hear a poet I’ve always wanted to hear.

SM: I’ve been interested in having Kiki read for Speak Social since coming across her first book, Fort Red Border. I love this collection because it fuses together everything I love about poetry; it is both cerebral and imaginative (the first section, for example, explores a fanciful relationship with Robert Redford), but her style is often conversational, making the poems tangible to the reader. I’m particularly fond of the last section, a set of ten poems all titled “Valentine.” She has a new collection due out from Sarabande next year, so I’m really excited to hear what she’s been working on recently.

JJ: I’m probably a little bit biased about Mike—he’s my brother. But he’s also a super-talented musician… I remember watching him sound out early tunes by Green Day when he was about eight years old. It was amazing to me then. He’s played in different bands over the years, but recently started playing with this group Been to the Gallows. They just put out an album called A Knock at the Door, and have been playing shows all over town. This show will be different, though, as it features Mike playing solo and acoustic (they’re usually a very loud, electric duo). If nothing else, having the focus solely on Mike, coupled with the acoustic set, will provide a unique experience for followers of his work.

KLL: Do you envision Speak Social as a continuing series? If so, who might we expect to see next season (and when does this season end)?

SM: We’d love for Speak Social to run as long as possible. We were toying with the idea of taking the holidays off after our October 19th event—featuring readers Lynnell Edwards and Sean Patrick Hill, with music by Alex Udis—but recently the literary magazine Catch-Up approached us about collaborating on a release party for their fall issue, and we just couldn’t turn down promoting such a unique new journal. The Catch-Up Release Party is set for November 2nd, which will wind down our 2012 season. However, we do have a party in the works for December to celebrate our season and thank everyone for their support, so keep your eyes peeled for that! We’ll resume in full swing in January with featured readers David Harrity and Martha Greenwald, though the exact dates haven’t been determined quite yet.

KLL: Do you have any long-term goals considering the direction, location, scale or format of Speak Social?

JJ: Personally, I’d like to bring in a few writers I know from New York, but that requires a lot of money. For one thing, I’d want to offer those people at least a small honorarium, but we’d also have to pay to fly them out here and put them up for a night or two. Sarabande is probably the only series around funded well enough to do something like that. Although, I’ve considered initiating a special fund called “Bring Timothy Donnelly to Speak Social” in order to raise that kind of money. Maybe it’s a little unrealistic, but not totally impossible.

SM: I’m a big fan of slam poetry and such spoken word poets as Sarah Kay and Saul Williams, so reaching outside the realm of academia and attracting some performance poets from the area is an interest of mine. And although it’s important to keep Speak Social relevant to Louisville folks, I too wouldn’t mind attracting some bigger names from outside the state… Overall, though, I’d love to see Speak Social become a driving force in a thriving arts scene in Louisville, while most importantly keeping the “social” atmosphere that we’re trying to achieve.

KLL: Are you actively seeking sponsors?

JJ: We are. Originally Java Brewing Company had funded honorariums for our readers, but it’s just unrealistic to think they can continue doing that. To raise money more immediately, Sarah and I [plan to start] a Kickstarter account. It’ll be online soon. [The] money would go to fund honorariums, create flyers, and if we have enough, to purchase a mic and P.A. system. Up until now, anything we’ve purchased for the series has come out of pocket, and we pretty much rely on our musicians for sound equipment. It’s been kind of a D.I.Y. operation. We’re also planning to apply for grants from the Kentucky Arts Council, South Arts, and the Center for Nonprofit Excellence, but that money—if we get it—wouldn’t come in until late next year.

KLL: Is there any other information readers and writers in the area should know about Speak Social?

SM: We’d love submissions! If you’re interested in reading, playing music, or finding out more information about Speak Social, you can contact John and me at You can also visit our website at Lastly, help spread the word and like us on Facebook at!

Featured readers at Speak Social have included poets Jeffrey Skinner, Adam Day, and Biancca Spriggs, as well as novelist Kirby Gann. On Sept. 21st poets Kiki Petrosino and Kyle Thompson will read at 7pm.

@InKYSeries         @JavaBardstown          @sarabandebooks

Subterranean Phrases

Subterranean Phrases celebrates it’s third event Wednesday @Decca  812 E. Market, Louisville, KY 40206.

This month will Feature writer Steve Smith with Improv and songs by Cellist: Jon Silpayamanant & possibly, a composition by your host [poet, musician, and composer Rachel Short; interviewed on this blog last month] combining the featured artists efforts.

OPEN mic before and after the featured set.

Facebook event for Subterranean Phrases

#poetry #music @rachelshort

Katerina Stoykova-Klemer @ Kentucky Book Fair

KY Book Fair

The Kentucky Book Fair in Frankfort, KY will run November 9-10. Accents Publishing captain and poet Katerina Stoykova-Klemer will be in attendance with other great Kentucky authors (from history to children’s stories).

Check out the link above for more info and author listings.

Speak Social KY presents Kiki Petrisino and Kyle Thompson @javabardstown

On Friday 9-21-12, Speak Social will present Kiki Petrisino and Kyle Thompson w/musical guest Mike James at Java Brewing (1707 Bardstown Rd.). Check out these great poets via the links provided below.

Did I mention events @javabardstown are always free? See you there!

Kiki Petrisino reading from her book Fort Red Border (Sarabande 2009)

(video by http://www.poetry.LA)

Work by Kyle Thompson in the Boston Review

Speak Social blog page

Java Bardstown on FB