ArtFM Radio hour: March 5.2015 : Nettie Farris : Matthew Haughton : Jonathan Wood

Tune in HERE this Thursday 1pm EST

Readings and Q&A with Nettie Farris and Matthew Haughton

stand_in_stillness-2CoverforCommunion-2

Musical interludes by Jonathan Wood

When you dig it:  You can then see them collaborate LIVE at Subterranean Phrases

on March 11 @ Decca [812 e. market st ] EVENT PAGE HERE

Subterranean Phrases is a reading series that matches writers and musicians to perform unrehearsed collaborations creating interesting juxtapositions of verbal and musical phrases. It’s subterranean in the cellar lounge at Decca Restaurant.

Can’t wait until March 11th to hear some incredible local readings?  I don’t blame you. Fear not. the Portland Poetry Series happens on MONDAY, March 2ND @ McQuixote Books and Coffee with 4 FOUR outstanding writers. 

Amber Burns : Adam Day : Jeremy Clark : Yolantha Harrison-Pace

Epiphany 

EVENT PAGE HERE 

All bios below


Nettie Farris is the author of Communion (Accents Publishing, 2013). She teaches writing as an adjunct instructor and has earned a Distinguished Teaching Award from the College of Arts and Sciences University of Louisville. She has won first place prizes in both Graduate Poetry and Graduate Research from the Metroversity Writing Contest. In 2011 she received the Kudzu Poetry Prize. Her poetry has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She lives in Floyds Knobs, Indiana. Her chapbook, Fat Crayons, is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press.

Matthew Haughton’s latest book of poetry is “Stand in the Stillness of Woods” (WordTech Editions). His chapbook, “Bee-coursing Box” (Accents Publications) was nominated for the Weatherford Award for Appalachian Poetry Book of the Year. His poems have appeared in many journals including Appalachian Heritage, The Four Way Review, Still, Border Crossing, and The Louisville Review. He is currently a student at the Bread Loaf School of English, where he is on a generous fellowship from the C.E. and S. Foundation. Haughton works as a school teacher in his native Kentucky.

http://jonathanglenwood.bandcamp.com/

From songwriter to improviser, Jonathan Glen Wood answers creativity’s call with openness and honesty, seeking clarity on an important inner journey. Whether performing with Old Baby, Jaye Jayle, Lowe Sutherland or Catherine Irwin, Wood strives to find new modes of creative expression, which lead to new musical possibilities. After a wide range of solo releases in 2014 ultimately uniting folk songwriting and synthesizer tones, he’s started 2015 by releasing, “On Remembering,” a wholly instrumental ambient synthesizer affair.


Amber Burns was born and raised in Louisville, KY. She earned her BA in English and Pan-African Studies from the University of Louisville. Amber first began performing her poetry in 2008 as a member of the feminist choreo-poetry troupe, S.H.E.! (Solidifying Her Evolution). She is now a seasoned poet and uses the stage as a platform to discuss the intersections of race, class, gender and sexuality. Amber is the Assistant Director of New Roots, Inc., a Louisville based non-profit working to make fresh local food affordable for those who need it most.

Jeremy Clark was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky. He recently graduated from the University of Louisville with a degree in Pan-African Studies. In 2014, he was chosen to attend the Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop, and his work is forthcoming in PLUCK! and Callaloo.

Adam Day’s forthcoming collection is Model of City in Civil War (Sarabande Books, April 2015). He is the recipient of a Poetry Society of America Chapbook Fellowship for Badger, Apocrypha, and of a PEN Emerging Writers Award. His work has appeared in the Boston Review, American Poetry Review, Poetry London, The Iowa Review, and elsewhere. He coordinates The Baltic Writing Residency in Latvia, Scotland, and Bernheim Arboretum & Research Forest.

Yolantha Harrison-Pace was born in Tacoma, Washington, but lived her early childhood in Amarillo, Texas during segregation until her family moved to Champaign, Illinois in 1966. There integration became a part of her everyday life, often just because her family of 7 attended an event or she and one of her 4 brothers were the only African American student in the classroom. This unique legacy of having lived on both sides of the track, segregation and integration, has been influential in her love for and artistic portrayals of her precious home, America. Pace uses her art forms as tools and strategies for supporting her platform of unity through the pursuit of cultural excellence. Her focus group emphasis is underserved populations in America and beyond. Yolantha is an advocate for abused family members, especially concerning hate crimes against women and children. She has been a Children’s Ambassador for Haiti since the year 2000. She is a teaching artist, playwright, poet and author and has had her play THE WHOLE SKY premier at Berea College. Her multitude of writings have gleaned her such honors as Poet of the Year, Book of Poetry of the Year, and won her the personal accolade of Humanitarian Author of the year. Her works have gone international through her postings as an adjunct writer for University of Southern California’s Art Institute for Genetic Medicine. In addition, as an Urban Folk Artist, Pace’s primitive Angel dolls are owned by collectors around the world. Her newest release: UNCLE THAXTER is a children’s book celebrating friends and family of wounded warriors.

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KY Writers Steven Michael Carr and Dean McClain 1pm today!

Steven Michael Carr works as a Staffing Coordinator and an Independent Community Facilitator in Louisville, Kentucky. He writes on the side. He is currently editing his first novel and working on too many other things at the same time. Steven received a degree in English from Bellarmine University and plans on one day obtaining an MFA in Creative Writing.

Dean McClain is a Shelbyville native and University of the Cumberlands alumnus. Dean is the author of two chapbooks of poetry “Splitsville…” and “Exit, Netherville”. Dean McClain has won awards for his poems and has also appeared on “The Viking Hillbilly” CD with Ron Whitehead.

Expect a variety of regional themes spanning genres today on Keep Louisville Literary on ARTxFM Louisville !

Today 10/31 on KLL RADIO Merle Bachman!

Rachel Short will host poet/prof Merle Bachman to talk about the Spalding BFA in creative writing, the new local literary magazine Word Hotel, Merle’s poetry and her upcoming Subterranean Phrases December reading TODAY 1pm on http://www.artxfm.com

click over and tune into streaming arts radio!

(photo credit Micheal Jackman, http://www.mjfreelance.com)

Jerry Deaton on KLL radio tomorrow 10/24

Jerry Deaton, author of Appalachian Ghost Stories and director of The Feuds of Bloody Breathitt, joins me tomorrow at 1pm on http://www.artxfm.com !

http://www.jerrydeaton.com

Ellen Beirkett Morris on KLL Radio 8-22

I’m happy to announce that Thursday’s guest will be local author Ellen Birkett Morris.

We will discuss her latest book, talk literature, and Ellen will fill us in on some exciting new community programs happening this fall. Tune in Thursday at 1pm to http://www.artxfm.com to hear the broadcast!

 

Ellen’s biographical info:

“Ellen Birkett Morris writes poetry, fiction and short plays from her home in Louisville, Kentucky. Her fiction is forthcoming in Antioch Review, and has appeared in South Carolina Review, Notre Dame Review, and Santa Fe Literary Review. Her story, “The Cycle of Life and Other Incidentals,” was selected as a finalist in the Glimmer Train Press Family Matters short story competition. Her ten-minute play, “Lost Girls,” was a finalist for the 2008 Heideman Award given by Actors Theatre of Louisville and was given a staged reading at the Arnoff Center in Cincinnati. Morris is the author of Surrender, a poetry chapbook from Finishing Line Press. Her poetry is forthcoming in Thin Air Magazine and Clackamas Literary Review, and has appeared in journals including Alimentum, Juked, Inscape, and Gastronomica. Her work won top poetry prize in The Binnacle Ultra-Short Edition in 2008 and was Semi-finalist for Rita Dove Poetry Award. Her poem, Origins, was nominated for the 2006 Pushcart Prize. Morris has received grants from the Elizabeth George Foundation, Kentucky Foundation for Women and Kentucky Arts Council. She is a recipient of a 2013 Al Smith Fellowship for her fiction given by the Kentucky Arts Council.”

Literary Event and KLL radio!

Next weeks guest on Keep Louisville Literary (7-18 at 1p on ARTxFM) will be award winning poet and UK instructor Adam Day who’ll talk with us about his time in NYU’s MFA program in Creative Writing, and working toward a better literary community with Louisville Literary Arts!

July 19th from 6-8p Homegrown Art, Music and Spoken word will feature poet W. “Bill” Loren Smith. Event hosted by Bobbi Buchanan of the New Southerner journal. Cedar Grove Coffee House 142 Buffalo Run Rd. Shepardsville, KY

July 28th at 5:30p Stone Soup returns to The Bards Town (1801 Bardstown Rd. 40205) with poets Mark Webb, Devin Payne, and Robin Bensinger.

BOTH EVENTS BEGIN WITH AN OPEN MIC, sign ups 30min before show time.

Maurice Manning Discusses His Dark and Lively Valley, “Fog Town Holler”

Long-time Kentucky poet Maurice Manning will read with fellow poet Makalani Bandele Friday, May 24th for Speak Social at Java Brewing (1707 Bardstown Rd. Louisville, KY).

I recently contacted Maurice to talk about his fifth book of poetry, published last month, The Gone and the Going Away (2013 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).

Brandon Stettenbenz: As the narrator in your book (the unnamed observer of “Fog Town Holler” and its denizens) recollects/dreams tales which are generally raucous or silly, and at times sobering, we get a broad swath of earthy characters from a past gone if not far removed. Did you set out to capture some impression of historical charm or community tradition you see fading from Kentucky?

Maurice Manning:  It is always a process, of course.  As I was nearing the end of my last book, The Common Man, I realized that the world I was writing about was nearly gone.  I was thinking of a small Kentucky town, a community with its own integrity, history, and ties, a distinct place with distinctive people living in it.  Rather than bemoan the loss of our small communities in my next book, I decided to imagine a small community and fill it with imagined characters, perhaps to suggest what we have lost.

BS: I personally felt the themes of family, heritage, and belonging continuously reinforced throughout this book in passages such as, “And so, / I suffer and love it still, and drag / my father with me, knowing it came / from him, from being here…” Here we see the narrator tied explicitly through his heritage to the land. What connection, if any, does this book have with your own history or that of your kin?

MM:  The poem you quote is called “The Debt.”  It is a true poem.  My father grew up on a farm along the border of Clay County and Jackson County.  The landscape in my mind is a combination of that region of eastern Kentucky, the knobs outside of Danville where I grew up, and the farm where we live in Washington County.

BS: There’s something in “Fog Town Holler” of the mystic and mysterious natural world—the people there seem closer to their origins, closer to the earth, and whether skeptics, preachers, or spirit “slain” parishioners, perhaps closer or more curious about the nature of being (alive) and the spiritual nature of their living world. Could you discuss for us this reverence for everyday beauty and nature evident in these poems?

MM:  Well, I think you’ve put it as well as I can.  I admire people who are closer to the earth and closer to their origins.  Such people have roots and a history of being in one place.  I think belonging to a place is important—to feel known and claimed by the place.  Rather than us making a place our own, I prefer the notion of allowing a place to make us its own.  That puts us more properly I think in a subordinate position.

BS: That reverence is also evident no only in the character’s ruminations upon life and the land, but also in your rendering of the landscape:

“and fog / rising from the ribbon of river / unstrung and loose below the hills / which fetched up like a row of knee / poked into the rosy sky”

Imagery is the primary mode used to immerse a reader into a place and sometimes into the mind of role of the speaker. However, your living pictures of “Fog Town Holler”, like the candor of its people, are rendered using colloquial modes of speech. Please tell us about the importance of writing in this way, of this place.

MM:  I think the colloquial is something I can’t avoid, because my experience with language starts with listening to it.  I love the natural rhythms of our local talk, but a local language also has a role in what is observed or thought or expressed.  One of my duties is to point out that local language can be intelligent.

BS: This is certainly the funniest, most colorful elegy I’ve ever read. I would even venture to say that humor lures the reader into this half-dreamed, half-remembered holler by endearing them to the long-gone (but perhaps not lost) characters of this fading memory/place. Could you discuss the role of humor in this book?

MM:  I enjoy humor is the short answer.  In The Gone and the Going Away I think some of the humor is there to provide comic relief.  There are a number of heavy poems in the book as well.  Humor is also neighborly—my neighbors are always stopping by to share a tall tale or tell a little joke or share something funny.  I often think I’m writing to a neighbor.

BS: Speaking of sing-song, there are many short, funny poems throughout this book, interspersed between longer dream sequences which seem to skirt the border of fable and parable. Do these song-poems stem from a regional tradition?

MM:  The short poems are described by a friend of mine as “honky tanka”.  I call this a stanza, since there are a few poems in the book composed of several of these stanzas.  The stanza is 30 words: 5 words to the line and 6 lines.  Odd-numbered lines begin with an iambic foot and even-numbered lines begin with a trochaic foot.  I believe each stanza has three rhetorical moves.  The stanza is like a little math problem.  I like the description of “song-poem.”  This is a case where the form had a real role in generating the poem.  Once I wrote one of these I wanted to write another one.  And so forth.

BS: The longer, dream-like poems in this book seem to reach or search for some wisdom, lesson or knowledge perhaps once known and lost. Did you have traditional fables or Christian parables in mind when you wrote these pieces?

MM:  To some extent I would say a parable is a form I often think about.  In my own life I respond to what I call spiritual confirmation.  Some of the longer poems are attempts to seek such confirmation and to enter into all of the paradoxes that accompany any sense of faith.

BS: Oral traditions have always influenced and sustained literature and storytelling; poetry is no exception. In the aforementioned short poems, I noticed some exaltation declared in a Whitman-like candor: “O—I’ve been dizzy too!” I also see some imagist influence reminiscent of William Carlos Williams—the way he dealt intimate glimpses of his native Rutherford/Patterson, sharing his elation for the place by inviting the reader into the complex simplicities of his home and his neighbors. Please tell us a bit about the influence of both storytelling traditions and other poetic forms on your work.

MM:  Storytelling is the beginning for me.  I was lucky to have known my great-grandmothers and other elders who were wonderful storytellers.  The stories were informal and usually incomplete, because the occasion usually wasn’t an official story.  If my grandmother told me about the time she stayed with cousins in Paint Lick and a train derailed, I would have been fascinated by the fragment of the story, but I would also have known what my grandmother was thinking about years later.  Those kinds of stories don’t come from an overt desire to tell; instead I think they reveal what someone is wondering about.  That usually means the story doesn’t have a “lesson,” or even an end.  That sense of wonder and ambiguity suit poetry very well.  Beyond hearing stories in my head, I’ve been drawn to Wordsworth and Coleridge and their pioneering belief that landscape can be the genesis of the poem.

BS: Dear Readers, Carmichael’s Bookstore will be on hand Friday during Speak Social to sell The Gone and Going Away, and Maurice will no doubt be happy to speak with you about the book and sign copies.

Author’s Bio (taken from The Gone and the Going Away):

“Maurice Manning is the author of four previous books of poems. His most recent book, The Common Man, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. A winner of the Yale Younger Poets Prize and a Guiggenheim fellowship, he teaches at Transylvania University in Lexington, KY.”

Exciting week of literary events starts tonight! 5/18

Tonight 5/17: First installment of the Homegrown Art, Music, and Spoken Word series hosted by Bobbi Buchanan
At Cedar Grove Coffee House 142 buffalo run road shepardsville, KY 40165. https://m.facebook.com/#!/events/306641226132694

Spalding university’s Festival of Contemporary Writing feat. Faculty and guests including Greg Pape, Kirby Gann, Maureen Morehead and many more starts tomorrow! 5/18
http://spalding.edu/festival-of-contemporary-writing-is-may-18-25/

The KY Women’s Bookfest runs tomorrow 5/18 from 9:30am until 3pm at UofL’s Ekstrom Library. Affrilachian poet Bianca Spriggs, WFPL’s Erin Keane, Sheri Wright, Judith C. Owens-LaLude, and Sarah Garland will speak

Monday 5/20 Sarabande hosts Mary Jo Bang and Kazim Ali at hotel 21c 7:30pm

Friday 5/24 Maurice Manning and Makalani Bandele read at Java Bardstown (1707 Bardstown rd) for Speak Social at 7:30pm
Look midweek for my interview with former Guggenheim fellow Maurice Manning (with audio!)

Holler poets’ Papa, Eric Scott Sutherland on His Baby’s 5th B-day, KY Literature, and His Forthcoming Collection “pendulum”

Eric Scott Sutherland is the creator, curator, and host of Holler Poets, a reading series held in Lexington, KY @ Al’s Bar (601 N Limestone St.) at 8pm, usually on the last Wednesday of each month. The series will celebrate its fifth anniversary at Holler 60 on May 29th with readings by Kentucky’s new poet Laureate Frank X Walker and fellow Affrilachain poet Mitchell Douglas. Musical segment by JustMe. Eric is also the author of three collections of poetry and his fourth, pendulum, is due out soon from Accents Publishing.

[Note: “regional literary scene” refers to literary happenings in Lexington, Louisville, Frankfort and surrounding areas.]

BS: Frank X Walker, our new poet laureate here in the commonwealth, is your featured reader for Holler’s fifth anniversary (May 29th). Aside from starting the Affrilachian poets and teaching, I’m sure Mr. Walker has more than earned his honors. I’m unfortunately less-than familiar with his involvement in the regional literary community…so could you perhaps tell us about the man, his work as a writer, and his contributions?

ESS:  Frank has been a tireless promoter of poetry in Kentucky and beyond our borders. His work has helped enlarge our story, adding an Affrilachian point of view to our incredible literary heritage. Frank opened the door, no, kicked it in with kindness and persistence for many to walk through. Throw in his positive presence and you have Kentucky’s first African American Poet Laureate. He’s also the youngest and so deserving of this honor. In several conversations at his historic induction ceremony in Frankfort, the consensus was that he has been doing the work of Poet Laureate for years.

Brandon Stettenbenz: Holler Poets has welcomed over 80 writers and dozens of musicians over the last five years. Man, I wish I’d heard of it sooner. Could you tell us the origin story of Holler, and perhaps a few of your favorite Holler moments?

Eric Scott Sutherland:  [In] February 2008, everybody I knew was drained of significant life force after enduring two [presidential] terms of George W. Bush, to the point of depression. The Iraq invasion had become an all out debacle and was closing in on the five year anniversary. I had been writing about the invasion and war in general for years, which in the wake of September 11th only escalated. I had marched on Washington with 200,000 other fellow human beings of all faiths and nationalities the fall of 2002, before it all began. Back home, I had performed at protest events, held signs and chanted slogans at rallies, and published a collection of poems in response, [titled] incommunicado, but somehow I [still] felt like there weren’t enough [voices] being heard. One night I was sitting in Al’s Bar, my favorite neighborhood hangout, where I have [now] been appointed, Poet Laureate, belly up to the worn bar, having some beers on a crowded rock n’ roll night. The bar was full of conversation, artists and activists and others who don’t fit into the manufactured box of modern society.  All of us [were] pioneers in [this] poor part of town: men and women of action, artists and entrepreneurs reclaiming what had been in decline for years; the abandoned communal spaces and cultural spaces. My friend Chuck Clenney and I were getting into the deep end of U.S. foreign policy and venting a desire to speak out against the runaway war machine. Chuck is a poet, as well and his work always speaks to the climate of the times. No holds barred.  We are certainly brothers in word when it came to matters of [U.S.] politics. By the time we’d finished our beers, we’d cooked up a poetry event to be held around the time of the fifth anniversary [of the U.S. invasion of Iraq]. The idea being, poets would speak out in a public forum and address our country’s role in [both] the creation of war and the maintenance of peace. It was a segment of the population we both felt was being shut out of the conversation by mainstream media. This was a way to become more actively involved. Poets for Peace was born.

We went our separate ways that evening with the idea that we’d be in touch. I left inspired and promptly began assembling names and thoughts as to how it would go down. Within a few days I had secured eight commitments (myself among them) to perform, including the [then] current Poet Laureate of Kentucky, Jane Gentry Vance. My friends Jeremy Midkiff and John Ferguson would perform as The Joybombs. When I spoke with Chuck, I told him it was all set and he was blown away by how fast it came together. He volunteered to handle the poster and we were off. Sunday evening March 30th we packed Al’s to capacity and then some. The crowd buzzed in anticipation. Folks mingled as the place became packed, adding an electric charge to the air. The stage was set for a night of catharsis, free speech and collective action for peace. Chuck Clenney, Affrilachian Poets Bianca Spriggs, Jude McPherson and Mitchell Douglas, Leatha Kendrick, George Ella Lyon, Jane Gentry and I all delivered impassioned readings of our work. The audience, in a gospel-like call and
response mood, surged with each poem and shouted out when they felt compelled to do so. It was such a special moment, to bring these writers of different pedigree together, to speak out against the war and the strange silence and complacency that had swept the nation. 

At the end of the show, Lester Miller, one of the owners of Al’s and a north side neighbor, approached me with handshakes and congratulations. He was as energized as the crowd. He told me that was the kind of thing he wanted to see happening in his bar. He also wanted to know if I was interested in doing something like this on the regular. I told him I was interested, but only monthly.  He said let me know when you come up with a date but Wednesdays would be great for us. And thus, holler was born.

As far as memorable moments, several come to mind:  Whitney Baker beginning his feature by the bar, which was loud and not paying attention.  After gathering their attention, he returned to the stage and blew the crowd away earning a rare standing ovation in the process. Maurice Manning’s second feature brought the house down. Silas House, Marianne Worthington, Daniel Martin Moore and Joan Shelley putting together a seamless hour and a half masterpiece.  Ron Whitehead’s wild rant-a-thon when he ripped the UK banner off the wall behind the stage, later licking a shot of Patron off the stage. Nikky Finney’s riveting feature six months before her National Book Award. The July 2010 Holler when there were so many literary luminaries in the audience I quipped from the stage that if the powers that be wanted to wipe out modern Kentucky literary history all they’d need to do was bomb Al’s bar.  Just a few weeks ago, Ross Gay’s amazing debut just a week after he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship.  And to be honest, each month’s show is so unique to itself that they are all memorable in their own special way.

BS: Now let’s talk about your poetry. Aside from being an outgoing, supportive literary community leader, you’re also an active writer with three books published and a forth coming soon from Accents Publishing. You also had a poem featured in Accents’ “Bigger Than They Appear” anthology, and its worth mentioning that Accents is, like your Holler series, a beacon of literature in the bluegrass. Tell us about Accents Publishing and your forthcoming collection pendulum.

ESS: Katerina Stoykova-Klemer is a dear friend; my poetic sister, if you will.  We are the same age and have brought our own unique energy to the current Kentucky literary scene. It has been a fulfilling, synergistic relationship where we support each other’s projects while raising up everyone in the community simultaneously. From Poezia to Accents the Radio show and Accents Publishing, Katerina has helped shine a wider light on the amazing powwow of talented writers in our region.  [Accents Publishing] has given voice to some of our best local poets. Her exquisite chapbooks are a steal at $5, but have helped make poetry more accessible for those who might be hesitant to purchase a book of poems for $20. I think what we both understand is that you have to develop appreciators of poetry. There are plenty of writers; we need more readers and listeners.

I am excited to have a full length collection being published by Accents.  Pendulum was inspired by my time running a café in Lexington’s Central Library. I was there for 8 years and met many memorable characters. Several of them will be immortalized in this book, though not every character in the book is an exact portrait of a real life person. I’ve also attempted to mystify the setting to keep it from being too literal. Those that know me the best will get it, but for those not familiar, they could read it and have a totally different idea of where the action unfolds in the book.

BS: You’ve also been published in more than a few journals over the past decade, including many regional journals such as Kudzu and Still: the journal (named after the late poet James Still). Your love for the land is also apparent in your poetry. Did you grow up in Appalachia? Could you tell us about your connection with Kentucky and the Appalachian region?

ESS:  I am not from Appalachia, though I do own some acreage in the Daniel Boone National Forest in Menifee County. I grew up in central Kentucky, Shelbyville to be exact. It’s not exactly Appalachia, but it is similar in a rural sense. On my grandparents farm I learned about the small wonders of nature along Rattlesnake Creek. It was this early exposure to the miracles of the woods that lead me to fall in love with Kentucky. Once I was old enough [I wanted] to move out west, like most of the people I knew, [but] I couldn’t escape the pull of this place. It was always home, a place to defend and cherish, calling me back like a Siren.

BS: I could say “I’ve seen Eric read and he’s a moving, sincere poet with a talent for conjuring the magic of Kentucky hills, valleys, and mountains” or “I’ve been to Holler, and it’s a raucous yet respectful vaudeville of poetic performance”, but I think readers want to hear your sentiments. What can we expect from your new collection, pendulum, and from the Holler fifth year anniversary event in May?

ESS: Pendulum is a departure from what I call my earth poems. Nature’s revelations recede in these poems to favor the psychological landscape of the cast who inhabit the book. I hope those who read it will be emotionally touched by each character and the stories unfolding in each poem. What happens in the dim rotunda and in its vicinity is a microcosm of the greater world, the struggle between light and darkness.

You can expect a literary celebration and a large, jubilant crowd for the fifth birthday event on May 29th.  Newly appointed Kentucky Poet Laureate Frank X Walker will be joined by fellow Affrilachian Poet Mitchell Douglas. Holler is always a monthly family reunion of writers with heaping helpings of words, but this one will be extra special.

Eric Scott Sutherland is the author of the chapbooks tall tales (1999), the psychonaut sails (2000), incommunicado (2007) and the forthcoming full length pendulum (2013). He lives, teaches, and curates/hosts the Holler Poets Series in Lexington, KY. You can find Holler Poets Series online via Facebook or his fan page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Eric-Sutherland/133556093940  and read some poems, check coming Holler dates, and keep up with Eric’s news and events at his website http://www.ericscottsutherland.com/.

Poet Chris Mattingly Talks Rural Roots and Kentucky Blues in His New Collection “Scuffletown” (Typecast Publishing, 2013)

Poet Chris Mattingly, whose new collection Scuffletown (pre-order here) is forthcoming this month from Louisville’s own Typecast Publishing, will read April 20th 7:30pm at Seidenfaden’s (1134 E Breckinridge St  Louisville, KY 40204) with fellow Typecast authors Amanda Smeltz (who’s coming down from Brooklyn, NYC just for us!) and Matt Hart— a line-up not for the faint-of-heart.

 

Brandon Stettenbenz: TYPECAST PUBLISHING (Louisville, KY) has a unique approach to publishing. They create one-of-a-kind books and assemble them by hand, ensuring that each collection has its due as an artifact worthy of ownership. Can we get any spoilers about the design, presentation, or packaging of Scuffletown?

Chris Mattingly: It’s the size of a Moleskine cahiers journal—which is what all of the poems from the book were drafted in—and the cover was letterpressed at The Firecracker Press in St. Louis.  In terms of the printing, the cover has a deep impression, some gritty noise, and nice shades of color that conjure river clay, in my mind.  The book feels good to touch.  It feels substantial.

BS: Matt Hart recently told me that Jen Woods is a “really careful editor”, and I read once that she told M. Bartley Seigel “this is going to hurt” before taking the red pen to his This is What They Say manuscript. Assuming that the recollections and ruminations in Scuffletown are hard-lived truth or nearly so, do you think developing this personal collection with an invested, supportive editor like Jen was easier or more difficult, than it would have been with a less intimate press?

CM: Easier.  The personal connection to the editor—well, to be clear, editors because Lindsey Alexander actually did the bulk of the hands-on editing with Scuffletown—was important to me as a poet and person.  To be honest, I wanted for this book to come out of this region in every way possible. This is almost [from a] political urge to grow and cultivate things—not just food—locally.  That said, I do want the book to achieve an audience larger than the local region!  This is where aesthetics comes in: For a long time, I’ve respected what Jen has done with the magazine (Lumberyard) and the work she’s done on Typecast Publishing’s previous collections of poetry.  So even though the book was created almost wholly on a local level, I believe Jen has created an audience that transcends place based on her aesthetics.

BS: Do you feel that the book ended up better because you were able to work locally with someone who, as a fellow Kentuckian, understands Scuffletown and the stories that emanate from that place (fictional perhaps in a similar way to Wendell Berry’s fictional “Port William” is an analog for his native Port Royal, KY)?

CM: Yes. Like I said, Lindsey Alexander was the editor of Scuffletown.  Lindsey, being from a Louisville family that has roots in Barren County, I fully trusted her ear.  Going back to the last question, it is important to note that we were able to cultivate trust through a personal connection based in part on both of us having deep family roots in rural Kentucky.  Also, because we were both in Louisville, we were able to sit face-to-face and talk about the book.  During these meetings, I was able to see the jubilance with which Lindsey approached the manuscript.  Seeing that joy eased any apprehension I may have had about someone putting hands on my art. For me, this trust would have been harder to achieve if I was working with a distant editor strictly through, say, email.

BS: Scuffletown contains confessions of realities beyond regret, and yet the speaker/narrator recalls his grim histories with an elegiac nostalgia. Talk a bit if you would, about the contradicting emotions that are captured so well, in my opinion, by the speaker’s raw, simply stated recollections.

CM: You’re right there is nostalgia, and that’s because it’s my childhood.  I am nostalgic about all sorts of elements of my childhood, not just the good.  I’m often equally nostalgic, or sentimental, about summer bike rides out to stripper pits as I am about sitting around the fire pit drinking whiskey with my mom after a domestic dispute.  The reason, however, is more complicated.  What I know is that in those moments, like in the poem “Bon Fire,” the mother and son connect in ways that many children never connect with their parents.  In that poem, the son becomes the parent to the mother, and in that, there is an opportunity to nurture, comfort, and even counsel the one who would traditionally be in that role.  I think there’s also something about healing and forgiveness that informs the tone you’re talking about.

BS: Getting through the collection can be difficult, not because of any tough abstractions or thick lexicon, but because of the emotional gravity involved. I have to admit, I’ve not shed tears in public for years, but as soon as I cracked the book (pg. 3) a poem titled Bonfire (mp3 here) took my knees out from under me. How would you foreword or foreworn Scuffletown to average poetry reader? To Kentuckians or others familiar with places with Scuffletown?

CM: Think of the poems in terms of the blues form.  We play the blues, we sing about hard times, sadness, and violence as a way of keeping it from having power over us.  This book is like that; it’s me singing, testifying.  I want it to be like the experience of hearing Skip James sing “Hard Time Killing Floor Blues”: no matter how down-low and rough [it] seems, in the end, you feel strangely empowered, maybe even connected to the speaker’s, or your own, experience a little more.  If so, maybe the work will be validated, the experience redeemed.

BS: Level of education and manner of speech are addressed repetitively in Scuffletown, and near the end the speaker even indicates that he’s lost some part of his identity by leaving words unique to his region of origin behind. Laying judgments like “genuine” and “truth” aside, why did you decide, after college, that you would continue or return to writing in form and dialogue befitting your Kentucky heritage (as opposed to adopting non-regional standard English and traditional narrative forms or classical forms)?

CM: That’s what this project called for.  I wanted the language to insinuate place.  The themes in this book aren’t just regional, they’re American, but I think each region has a different way of understanding and dealing with those themes.  One way this shows through is the language we use.  For example, one poem ends with: “Let me beat on your for a while.”  The idea, because of who the speaker is, is that she is basically saying, “I love you” in her own language.  The line comes from an actual experience:  One day, while fiddling around in the root garden, I overheard my neighbor say, “Git over here baby girl an’ let me beat on you fur a-while.”  Because I am a sucker for a good expression, I stood up smiling while I felt the chaos of language resonate through my body.  The little girl, 4 years old, was tickled, squirmed a little and simply said: “Naw, Mamaw.”  The expression, make no mistake about it, was one of affection and tenderness.  The old woman was basically saying let me love on you with pinches, squeezes, nibblin’s and rough ticklin’.  An idea conveyed in a language that insinuated place with all its intricate familial, regional, historical, and class workings churning through my head like so many gears.  Truth-be-told, I was moved by the way her expression entangled love and violence.  And I was startled by what murked the surface of the quirky words: the brutal truth and wisdom of love’s deeply textured experience.  The way pleasure is complicated by a hurting place peppered her tongue with subjective experience that burned like bourbon in my chest as I said the words over and over later that night.  And I was startled again by the way her words evoked a place beyond the backyard in Louisville, out past the hills of her East Kentucky upbringing, and into a psychic region in a league with, say, the bullfighters, gypsy flamenco guitarists, and death infused dancers of Garcia Lorca’s duende.  Or better, Blanch was like Feste, the jester in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, who imparts real depth of understanding beneath a sheen of comical ease.  But of course, she was just talking, being her own danged self in her own danged backyard.  She was not weighing each word or measuring each syllable, calibrating lines, and synching up sounds with meaning.  She was not trying to raise a place from out of the seasoned lumber of the written word.  The way we poets do.

BS: You hold an MFA in Creative Writing from Spalding University here in Louisville. Would you like to tell readers who may be unfamiliar with that program about the Spalding writing/academic community?

CM: It’s a close-knit community that also is very much linked to the larger Louisville community.   I think it feels linked to the wider community because during the residency—it is a brief-residency program—many of the readings and seminars are open to the public.  As far as the instruction, it was ideal for me because it is more of an apprenticeship experience.  While workshops are the backbone of the residency, the bulk of the semester is spent one-on-one under the guidance of a master.  I worked with three different poets, one poet twice, and I always like to liken my experience to that of the young poet who’s exchanging letters with Rilke in Letters to a Young Poet.

BS: Seidenfaden’s here in Louisville is a neighborhood bar, and you’re also performing for Holler Poets at Al’s Bar in Lexington on April 17th. Do you prefer to read your poetry, rife as it is with hard luck and hard drink, in a bar as opposed to a lecture hall, classroom, gallery or other formal setting?

CM: Not really.  In a way, it seems more important to read these poems in a formal setting, but I do feel at very much home in taverns.  When I was a teenager, my mom worked in a neighborhood tavern.  I used to go in there to watch her work and listen to the stories of the people at the bar.  Also, my uncles and dad went to neighborhood taverns, so I grew up going there with them, too.  As far as Seidenfaden’s goes, on quiet nights, it’s like home: I’ve done homework there; I’ve hung out with my dad there; I was hired for a job while hanging out there; my friends and I used to spar and shadow box inside on slow nights; I’ve watched the World Series there; I’ve walked down there from the house just to unwind; And the poems do seem to ideally fit into that context.

BS: I’m betting both readings will be rowdy and raucous. You won’t wanna miss the party, dear readers! Clean out your ears and wear your stompin’ shoes. Bourbon is optional but recommended; tip your bartender(s).

Chris Mattingly is the author of Ad Hoc and a translation of Anglo-Saxon riddles A Light for Your Beacon both from Q Avenue Press. Mattingly holds an MFA from Spalding University, cultivates a great big garden, plays banjo, sometimes travels ridiculous distances for burgoo and chess pie, and is the eighth-generation Mattingly to live in Kentucky. He currently resides in south-east Georgia where he teaches at East Georgia State College