Literary events in Louisville this week! (Beginning TODAY 1/23/13)

Hello readers!

We have several great events coming up soon:

TONIGHT 1/23, 6-9p (readings 7pm) LEO literary awards with readings from winners, a Jazz trio, cash bar, and the winning photographs will also be on display. Spalding University Egan Center 901 S. 4th st.

Tomorrow: 1/24 at 7:30pm Daniel Khalastchi and Craig Morgan Teicher will read for Sarabande’s 21c Reading Series

Friday: Speak Social @ Java Bardstown (1707 Bardstown Rd) Martha Greenwald and Dave Harrity will read from recent collections 7:30pm. Note: Java serves coffee, tea, crepes, pastries, beer and wine.

Sunday: Stone Soup lives with Jimmy Besseck now at the helm! 5:30pm at The Bards Town (1801 Bardstown Rd) Readings from Thomas Olges (short SF/horror, and poetry; I’ve been pressuring this guy to send his work out for years now!), Mary Alice Endicott and William Freeman. Note: The Bards Town serves up a delicious, diverse dinner menu, beer, wine and full-bar.

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Literary updates 1/12/13 (and a reading today!)

Tonight 5pm at The Bard’s Town (1801 Bardstown rd.) join literary journal New Southerner for readings by their 2012 literary prize winners: Amy Tudor- poetry; Richard Hague- nonfiction; plus poet Wanda Fries and several short readings by runners-up (no open mic).

Speak Social is back at Java Bardstown (1707 Bardstown rd) this month on Friday the 25th at 7pm. Locals Dave Harrity and Martha Greenwald will read, four open mic spots to start.
NOTE: this event is the 25th, not the 19th as previously stated.

A New Year, New Authors, Lists and a look back at KLL: the first 5 months

Well, I don’t know if I’m spearheading a literary revolution, but I’ve had damn good time doing this blog. I started in late August 2012 and set out to change the dynamics of our local Lit. scene by co-mingling crowds and attempting to generate public/community interest in new and resurfacing authors via interview. Since no “year-in/year-end” blog posting is complete without them, I’m going to all the awesome people I’ve interviewed this year (which you can still check out!), some of the inspiring books I’ve read, and the people I have slated and in-mind for interviews this spring.

Past interviews: John James, Hannah Gamble, Joe Brashear, Makalani Bandele, Ada Limón, Jessica Farquhar, Erin Keane (and her questions answered by me, Brandon Stettenbenz), Sean Patrick Hill, Jennifer Woods (Typecast Publishing), Nettie Farris, Jimmy Besseck, Kiki Petrosino, Sheri Wright, and Rachel Short. I’m sure this wasn’t the highlight of the year for any reader or interviewee, but I hope everyone had fun!

Recommended reads for the year: Ada Limón’s Sharks in the Rivers, Sean Patrick Hill’s Interstitual, Hannah Gamble’s Your Invitation to a Moderate Breakfast, Kiki Petrosino’s Fort Red Border, Jimmy Besseck’s Bus Boy Moments, Sheri Wright’s The Feast of Erasure, Erin Keane’s Death Defying Acts, Dean Young’s Fall Higher, Charles Simic’s That Little Something, Richard Taylor’s Fading Into BoliviaW. Loran Smith’s Night Train, M. Bartley Seigel’s This is What They Say, and many more than I can list or remember.

Reading list 2012 (So far): Dorthea Lasky’s Thunderbird, Dean Young’s Bender: New and Selected poems, Sean Patrick Hill’s Hibernaculum, William Carlos William’s Paterson, Mary Ruefle’s Selected Poems, and so forth and SF books no one cares about.

Slated & possible authors/publishers to interview: Adam Day, Jeriod Avant, Meg Bowden (Sarabande Books), The White Squirrel (UofL) staff, Thomas Olges (later this mo.), Eric Sutherland (Holler Poets, Lexington, KY), Chris Mattingly, Matt Hart, Lynnell Edwards (LLA, InKY, Poet), Brian Leung (LLA, Inky, Novelist) and hopefully many more interesting persons.

I’ve had a decent year personally, and an excellent five months with this blog. I’m hoping that 2013 will bring the Louisville Lit. scene closer together than ever before (we are the only support we have folks!), and I look forward to seeing great readings and interviewing/meeting interesting writers.

Keep Louisville Literary in 2013!

Best wishes to all,

Brandon Stettenbenz

p.s. If you curate, edit or are otherwise part of literary events, magazines/journals, workshops or festivals anywhere in the region, I’d love to collaborate with you for this blog! My goal is not an insular one; enriching any literary community also means connecting with other literary communities and traveling writers! Its a two way, mutually beneficial endeavor.

Discussing the Experimental and Pastoral with John James

John James (co-curator of Speak Social) will read this coming Wednesday, January 9th, 2013 @Decca (812 E. Market St. Louisville, KY) for Subterranean Phrases, 9pm with accompaniment by fellow poet and improvisational guitarist Misha Feigin. Note: This event is late, but starts promptly whenever possible. There are also 5ish open-mic spots to open and 5 spots after the featured set.

Keep Louisville Literary: Your poems often embark on surrealistic journeys combining spiritualism and ritualism from several world religions. Please share where these inspirations stem from; what interests you about religions particularly?

John James: I wouldn’t say several world religions. In fact, I’m not a religious person at all. Anything “religious” in my poems, per se, has only to do with shedding the Catholicism of my youth, which really has more to do with the development of autonomous rational thought than with faith or doubt. As I’ve grown, the speakers of my poems tend to grow more critical of their environments, sloughing off religion in the process.

KLL: You implement a studied lexicon, by which I mean deliberate more than academic. Having many poems with naturalistic Kentucky themes, having grown up here in Louisville, and having completed your MFA at Columbia in NYC, how do you reconcile these seemingly disparate spheres of literary influence?

JJ: It’s always been a struggle for me. How do I reconcile the metropolitan with the provincial, the experimental with the conventional? The latter has been the most difficult struggle, actually. For a long time I felt, and sometimes still do feel, that I needed to write one uniform type of poem, that my work needed to fit into a mold, and that mold had to be either experimental or conventional, but not both. Once I started compiling poems into a manuscript, I realized that possessing some inclination toward experimentation, some toward convention, some toward playfulness and some more toward seriousness, actually enriched the book. The playful poems augmented the gravity of the serious ones, as hectic cityscapes contributed, by contrast, to the tranquility of the pastoral “Kentucky” setting. So actually, I reconcile disparate spheres by including and attempting to balance the very disparity that irks me.

KLL: I’ve noticed that, although your poetry is predominantly concerned with images and perception, you also muse on the ability of our language to capture memories and meaning. Could you expand upon your view of poetry’s role in framing our experiences or our living world?

JJ: My friend Kyle Thompson always says “the poem is a record of the poet experiencing the otherness of his/her consciousness,” and I think he’s right. There is the poem, and then there is the act of writing the poem. Writing is an active process, a brief time span during which the poet engages intensely with language and thought. For me, few other experiences are as pointed and intuitive as this one. All prior attempts to write are focused into that one experience of writing. In a sense, the poem is a sum of accumulated experience poured into a material product. Of course, that experience is transitory. The poem does “capture” memory and meaning, but it’s really just a memorial to the process of writing, a gravestone to an ephemeral state of knowing. At best, the poem is an object, a document; at worst, it’s a commodity.

KLL: Within the poems which take place on an unnamed Kentucky farm, we see extended observations which sprawl into hypotheses of events experienced by a lone person (i.e., “His Angels Especially Amaze the Birds”), or alternatively, swaths of memory recalled by a younger man or boy (i.e., “Years I’ve Slept Right Through”). To what extent are these poems autobiographical, or are they perhaps written based loosely on one or several persons you’ve known?

JJ: Actually, those poems aren’t autobiographical at all. In fact, almost none of my poems are, at least not in the sense that these events actually took place. They are autobiographical in the usual sense, in that I write what I know, and the landscape is definitely my own. The barn in “His Angels” and other poems was situated just behind a house I lived in for seven years, from seventh grade until I left for college. But the stories in those poems—the drug addict who doesn’t realize his lover is dead, for instance—didn’t necessarily happen. I did include some biographical elements here and there—the dog running circles in “Beneath the Trees at Ellingsworth,” or the goat with the splayed belly in “Kentucky, September”—but for the most part, I use narrative as a tool to explore some central idea in a piece, which is what I’m really after in those poems.

KLL: Your newer long poem, “from History of Sexuality”, is an experiment in which you’ve excerpted and collaged text from Michel Foucault’s The History of Sexuality. In my observation, this is far removed from your usual poetic. Beyond the endeavor of collage, this rolling treatise on power relationships and the comparison of navigating sexual experiences to the pitfalls of political arenas eschews both characters and visceral observation. What led you to venture into this particular experiment, so far removed from your particular “voice”?

JJ: I’ve been playing a lot with textual appropriation recently—actually, I‘ve been doing so for several years, but few of my early experiments made it past the workshop. There’s even one poem in the chapbook, “The Healers,” which forms a narrative around fragments of appropriated text from Che Guevara’s journals, but that project works on a different scale than “from History of Sexuality.” The movement to pure collage, the change in subject matter, it all emerged from reading Foucault’s text and locating fragments that piqued my interest. Lineating those fragments brought an element of sensuality to Foucault’s clinical tone, eroticizing the text in interesting ways. If you’re familiar with The History of Sexuality, you know that Foucault argues for the liberating possibilities of transgressive eroticism, so the mere act of lineating (and therefore, eroticizing) Foucault’s language lent a derisive element to the text, which in a way embodies Foucault’s argument, but at the same time, satirizes it.

John James holds an M.F.A. in poetry from Columbia University, where he received an Academy of American Poets Prize. His poems, essays, and reviews have appeared or are forthcoming in Boston Review, The Kenyon Review, DIAGRAM, Pleiades, and elsewhere.

Note: John James will also be appearing later this month in Lexington, KY @ Al’s Bar for Holler Poets #56 January 22nd, 2013 at 8pm. The regular Holler crowd very hospitable, and the event features ten open-mic spots (1 piece per reader) to open.