Post Writer’s Block meets Jesse James

If you’re like me, and took in as much Writer’s Block goodness as you had time for, you may still be drunk on language Or enjoying a slight verbiage hangover. This is a good thing.  A feeling that you packed so many words into your day from other writer’s ideas that your dreams may be different, dimensionally, from your usual REM stomping grounds.  You may also have jotted several inspirations on your writer’s block handbill that are barely legible because you were listening. Because having ideas and listening is like trying to drink and breathe at the same time.  So, if you’re like me, you might still be drunk on Writer’s block or slightly in a haze of egregious swirling inspiration.

Writer’s Block is not for the faint of heart. It takes a serious literati to commit to all events encompassing the day.  I had to take a lunch and dinner break. And still my thoughts were pre-occupied to what possible nuggets of truth were falling on the ears of others that I was not available to hear as well.

However, if you did miss the annual InKY extension, the 2014 Writer’s Block, I will be playing excerpts from what I was able to attend on the radio hour- artxfm.com– on Thursday, November 20, at 1pm EST.  Including: Ben Tanzer, Isiah Fish, Tasha Cotter, Sean Patrick Hill, Matt Hart, Chris Mattingly, and Joy Priest.

A full day of readings, panels, workshops, walking, and 40 degree weather might not be your style.  Maybe you prefer your experiences with writers to be more bite size.  Louisville rarely fails to deliver. This week, it’s Jesse James.

McQuixote books and Coffee : We are excited to host Eric F. James, author of Jesse James Soul Liberty, an authorized historical biography of the family of Frank & Jesse James, drawn from primary family sources. Eric will lead a talk on the book and a signing afterwards. Join us for a coffee and a night with an engaging storyteller speaking on this notorious American icon and his family.

ERIC F. JAMES co-founded the James Preservation Trust with Judge James R. Ross, Jesse’s great grandson.
Eric also is the archivist of the Joan Beamis Research Archive that produced the first genealogy of the Jesse James family, Background of a Bandit, published by the Kentucky Historical Society.
Recently, Eric supervised the exhumation of Jesse’s twin children, Gould & Montgomery James, reuniting them with their parents per the wishes of their mother, Zee Mimms-James.
Since 1997, Eric writes & publishes the official web site for the Jesse James family, Stray Leaves and the family blog, Leaves of Gas.

Saturday November 22, 6pm

McQuixote Books & Coffee

1512 Portland Ave Suite #1, Louisville, Kentucky 40203

 

Or, if you’re in the Lexington area, the Holler Poets Series is still going strong.  One of the features is the LLA’s very own, Lynnell Edwards.

“Holler 78 features the return of the King of Pine Mountain, Jim Webb, author of Get In, Jesus and Lynnell Edwards, whose latest is Kings of the Rock n’ Roll Hot Shop (Or, What Breaks). Providing the music is Lexpatriate Sheri Streeter. Open mic begins and ends the show with signups beginning at 645pm. As usual, the Holler bucket will be available so you can support the artists. Support your local arts! See y’all there.”
While the Axton Reading Series has concluded for the year,  the LLA has InKY readings throughout the year at The Bardstown.
Other readings throughout the year include: Speak Social, hosted by Sarah Maddox and John James, and  Subterranean Phrases, hosted by Rachel Short @ Decca.
McQuixote Books and Coffee has also started booking several readings and has a scheduled open mic.
Stayed tuned to Keep Louisville Literary for continuing info regarding all things Literary Louisville.
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Four events this Friday. FOUR. How will you choose? Also this week: Subterranean Phrases and Cynthia Arrieu-King on the radio hour [8.14.14]

You read it correctly, that’s right, there are four readings in this city on Friday August 15th, FOUR.  How will you choose?  By venue?  Proximity to home? Best chance to get some time on the mic? Potential after party? You could choose by the scheduled feature reading or the host.  Coffee shop or bar?  Tacos?  Money?

Overwhelmed yet?  Let me help you break it down.

 

The new guyNight of the Chupacabra hosted by John Beechem, KeepLouLit former co-host and editor of AmericanFantastic.com 

Venue: Taco Punk [736 e market]  –that’s right, ‘Tacos?’ was not just an attention grabbing ploy, this is actually happening.

Featured sets: Words-John Beechem, Music-Maplex Monk with Dr. Rockwell & DJ Mythos of artxFM.com

Open Mic: Yes

After Party: Yes

Bonus Features: art for sale to benefit American Fantastic (and the artists, of course)

Friday August 15, 6-9 pm —EVENT PAGE nightofthechupacabra

The Cash $$ giveaway: Homegrown Music, Art, and Spoken Word, hosted by Bobbi Buchanan, editor of the New Sou:herner, and Austin Whitely

Venue: Cedar Grove Coffee House, 142 Buffalo Run Road, Shepardsville, KY

Featured sets: Words- Lance Newman & Music- David A. Patrick

Open Mic: Yes, get there early bc this place is always packed.

After Party: No

Bonus Featuressign up for the open mic, stay within the time, and you’re eligible to win Cash $25

Friday, August 15, 6-8pm–EVENT PAGE

Welcome Back: Speak Social hosted by John James, Assistant Poetry Editor at Phantom Limb Press and Adjunct Professor at Bellarmine University, & Sarah Maddix 

Venue: Seidenfaden’s 1134 e Breckenridge Ln 

(Formerly this event was at Java on Bardstown Rd)

Featured Sets Cynthia Arrieu-King, all the way from Philadelphia; Eric Scott Sutherland, from Lexington; and Louisville’s own Marie Coma-Thompson 

Open Mic: no

After Party: In the past, John and Sarah have hosted an after party. They’re parents now, so to my knowledge, no. However, This event takes place at a bar, so party on, Garth, party on.

Bonus Features: I’ll be chatting with CYNTHIA ARRIEU-KING on the radio hour Thursday on artFM, 1pm. Cindy teaches at Stockton College in New Jersey and is a former Kundiman fellow. Her books are People are Tiny in Paintings of China (Octopus Books 2010) and Manifest (Switchback Books 2013). She is a community and educational advocate for poetry through the Dodge Foundation teacher meetings. Her interviews with contemporary poets can be heard on The Conversant, part of The Volta on-line Magazine. Her poems will appear this year in Fence, The Kenyon Review, and Sink Review. She feels like a citizen of the planet and enjoys the connections between major religions and all that unless you ask where she’s from and she’ll say Louisville, Kentucky and from then on, will never let you forget that it is the best place on earth.

Friday, August 15, 7:30–EVENT PAGE 

Under the radar: Charles Dodd White, who’s judging New Southerner’s fiction contest this year, will be in Kentucky this weekend reading from his new novel. You can catch him in Louisville at Carmichael’s this Friday, Aug. 15, at 7 p.m. or in Lexington at the Morris Bookshop on Saturday, Aug. 16, at 2 p.m.

I haven’t seen an event page for this and wouldn’t have known of it’s existence had the New Southerner not made a post.  I’m assuming you need to go to the Carmichael’s on Frankfort ave for this one.

————————————-

I know Friday night is a great night to go out and maybe that’s why all of these hosts have chosen the same day of the month, but there is NO way you can attend all of these event’s, you’ll have to choose, unfortunately.  To ease the pain, you can attend Subterranean Phrases on Wednesday to double down on readings this week.

Hump Day: Subterranean Phrases hosted by Rachel Short 

Venue: Decca cellar lounge. 812 e. Market st. 

Featured Set: Tony Brewer and his performance troop from Bloomington presenting a radio adaptation of William S. Burroughs, A Junky’s Christmas.  Opening- Leesa Cross-Smith, reading from ‘Every Kiss A War’

Open Mic: Yes 

After Party: not planned 

Bonus Features: Shakespeares Monkey, performance troop from Evansville

Wednesday, August 13, 8p (doors) —EVENT PAGE

 

 thanks for tuning in and 

write on,

Rachel 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poet and Short Fiction Mix-master Kyle Thompson 2/13!

Join me Thursday for brief Q&A and a gnarly journey via Kyle Thompson’s mad-science of language where prose and poetry clash and couple to create joy/fury/mystery! Kyle will also perform the following day, Friday 2/14 (V-DAY KIDDOS!) at the InKY reading series 7pm at The Bard’s Town restaurant and theater (1801 Bardstown Rd. Louisville, KY 40205)

As always, tune in for local literary culture Thursdays @ 1pm on www.artxfm.com

 

Kyle is an author of short fiction and poetry. He has published in AGNI, Seneca Review, Hotel Amerika, Antioch Review, Quarterly West, [PANK], Indiana Review and elsewhere. Kyle has also taught at UofL and previously held the Axton Fellowship position there. [click links for work by Kyle]

Thursday 8-1 KLL Radio welcomes Sean Patrick Hill!

Thursday I’m welcoming Sean Patrick Hill to the studio. The show streams as always, 1pm on http://www.artxfm.com. Sean is the author of three books of poetry Interstitial (Blazevox, 2012), The Imagined Field (Paper Kite, 2010), and Hibernaculum (Slash Pine Press, 2013); he is also a journalist and non-fiction writer. You can read about his recent pubs and books here.

Sean read at Holler Poets last week, Speak Social last fall, Chicago, Chattanooga, Pittsburg, Raleigh, and elsewhere in the last sixth months. He’s hard-working poet, father, and educator with a profound interest in and reverence for his literary idols.

We will talk about his new book, his recent experience graduating from Warren Wilson’s MFA in creative writing, and hear poems old and new. I’ll also be announcing upcoming regional and local contests, readings, and other opportunities to get involved with literary culture in Louisville, KY and nearby!

Now that @KeepLouLit has international listeners

Seriously, Germans and other international people are tuning into ARTxFM! We have so many talented writers here in Louisville, and we all know language and literature are universal. So how can this blog better expose authors to the world at large? I’m researching interconnectivity in the blogosphere and more…but multiple brains are better than one. And this blog is a community, so SPEAK UP ya’ll! Comment below with thoughts, ideas, encouragement or anything else you’d care to share.

P .s. Thanks for being an active, important part of the amazing literary community sprawled throughout KY and elsewhere!

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.”

The sMarch weather isn’t so lousy, and neither are the literary events

You (and I) may have missed InKY, and Speak Social may be taking the month off, but you need not despair, there are still a few literary events still going on in and around Louisville. They will, obviously, not coincide (where avoidable) with the NCAA schedule.

TOMORROW, March 13th at 9pm. Join Rachel Short and crew in Decca’s swank stone cellar/lounge for Subterranean Phrases! This month’s reader is Thomas Olges, local teacher, poet, satirist and fiction writer. I personally guarantee evocative, weird, uncomfortably poignant satire/thematic out of this guy. He’ll be accompanied by Ryan Conroy on various instruments.

March 21. Render After Party: A Benefit for Holler Poets Series (will follow Rebecca Gayle Howell’s official release of “Render / An Apocolypse” winner of the 2012 Cleveland State University First Book Prize, selected and with a foreword by Nick Flynn, at the Carnegie Center for Literacy)
Music by Matt Duncan with guest appearances from Katerina Stoykova- Klemer, Eric Scott Sutherland, Maurice Manning, and Marianne Worthington. 9:00 p.m. | Al’s Bar, 601 North Limestone Street $5 cover & donations accepted to benefit The Holler Poets Series.

March 27th, Holler returns for its 58th installment. Tina Andry (celebrating the release of Ransom Notes from Accents Publishing), and Jeremy Paden (celebrating the release of Broken Tulips, also from Accents) will read; Chris Sullivan will play some Tunes. As always, Holler gets loud at Al’s Bar in Lexington.

Stone Soup didn’t want to compete with chocolate…I mean Jesus…so there will be no Stone Soup for Easter. In April, Jimmy will welcome Divinity Rose, Norman Buzz Minnick, and Jay Sizemore.

There are also several author signings and readings at Carmichael’s Bookstore, which I will “share” on FB.

Enjoy the Madness and the (slowly improving) weather!

Interview with Tireless Artist Matt Hart: poet, teacher, Typecast Publishing and H_NGM_N author, and punk rocker

Speak Social Presents: Matt Hart & Patrick Wensink

Poet Matt Hart will be reading with novelist Patrick Wensink @Java Bardstown for the February 22nd installment of Speak Social at 7:30pm. I haven’t spoken with Patrick Wensink—who’s readings have been known to become drinking games as Erin Keane will tell you here, and who also had “four  days of (internet) fame” after receiving the world’s “nicest cease and desist letter” from Jack Daniels whiskey— but I was fortunate to catch up with Matt (busy poet, father, educator, and musician) to try and dig up some insight for those of you who may not already be aware of this prolific, regional powerhouse of written and spoken verse.

Brandon Stettenbenz: Let’s clear the air. This interview is not going to be as awesome as the one you did with BookSlut (it’s really worth a read!); of course that was a few years back… Since then, you’ve put out a book with Typecast Publishing here in Louisville, called “Sermons and Lectures Both Blank and Relentless.” Your band, Travel, also did an album inspired by the book. Can you fill us in on that experience?

Matt Hart: I’ve been a big fan of Lumberyard (the print magazine that Typecast publishes) almost since the beginning. I think it’s really exciting what they do with typography, exploding the poems, reconfiguring and re-contextualizing the various moving parts of the lines and stanzas, emphasizing the visual, material, and sculptural (not to mention, wooden and concrete) qualities of language. There’s something radical and radicalizing about their vision, and the DIY nature of the thing is something that really resonates with me and with my background, both with Forklift, Ohio (the magazine I co-founded and edit) and in punk rock.

With that in mind, I was only maybe a third of the way into the poems that became Sermons and Lectures, when I started thinking that Typecast would be the perfect publisher for that book. The poems are so full of fracture and speed, and the material quality of the language that comes through in the collage technique is a prevalent mode of the book’s poems. Of course, there are also numerous references to early punk rock and the idea that everything might fall apart at any second.  It seemed to me to that the book had a lot in common with the Typecast aesthetic and vision, so I approached Jen Woods about it, and she liked the manuscript and took it on. I don’t remember exactly when in the process I got the idea to do a new Travel record using cut-up versions of the Sermons and Lectures poems as lyrics, but it all sort of came together right around the same time. The resulting record, Blank Sermons…Relentless Lectures, is one of Travel’s best, I think; full of noise and skronkiness that actually ends up sounding like music. Go figure.

Working with Typecast, and with Jen in particular, was truly a wonderful experience. She really helped me with ordering the manuscript, but more than that she’s a really careful editor, and I think she understands my aesthetic sometimes better than I do. I hope I get to work with her and Typecast again at some point. But regardless, I know that we’re friends for the long haul. She really is my Weird Sister.

Note: (Typecast Publishing is an immeasurable asset to our literary scene here in Louisville, and a growing force among American small presses. You can check out their impressive catalogue here, including Lumberyard magazine #10 featuring Mary Ruefle, Maurice Manning and more)

BS: I’ve read and heard mostly the poems from Sermons, but in older and more recent journals I’ve observed that your voice has remained loud; there’s really no other way to describe it whether in print or in person. Do your see this as a product of your punk/rock n’ roll roots and/or an intrinsic personal trait?

MH: Well, okay, I get that. But I think of my more recent work, especially the post Sermons and Lectures stuff that’s been appearing here and there, as really domestic, romantic, nearly pastoral in some of its tonalities and urgency toward melody/rhapsody/narrative. In fact, if I could have my way, with my new book Debacle Debacle, I would whisper the poems to one listener at a time. Sadly, that doesn’t usually fly so well against the backdrop of espresso machines and clinking beer bottles.  It’s hard at most readings to be desperately, energetically, and personally low volume—almost no one would be able to hear the poems!—even though that’s often how I hear them in my head, and certainly the way I read them out loud to myself as I’m writing them. It’s the way I imagine someone else reading them too.

I should say also that just reading poems in a monotone is so incredibly awful to my ear that I just can’t allow myself to do it. Poems are alive. They have their own peculiar voices. At a reading I’m not trying to read them the way a reader would/should read them. That’s a thing done in the privacy of one’s mind, one’s mouth, one’s soul—if we’re lucky. Poets need to realize when they’re reading in public that they’re performing. There’s an audience in front of you, and they deserve a thing delivered, a call for their response. But also the poems deserve to be inhabited and brought to life.

That said, I always try pretty hard to create something of a dynamic range in the work—all one volume all the time gets kind of boring. With Sermons and Lectures, which takes a lot of its inspiration from punk rock and hellfire and brimstone preaching there’s certainly a lot of “loud,” but that’s contrasted with very modulated quiet passages. The final sequence “Blood Brothers and Weird Sisters” has a much different tonality than a lot of the rest of the book. It’s a denouement and a finality—a last gasp—and is the result of a kind of necessary exhaustion, a gradual fade out. It is true that often at readings I like to try and build momentum (which itself often comes with increasing the volume, either incrementally or radically)—to make poems ramp up with a fever, to press their bewildered faces against the infinite—whatever that is. I definitely think that this desire for a dynamic range in the work comes from my background in music. The “louds” I want to be really loud, but the “quiets” should be barely audible, so that people have to lean in and stop breathing.

BS: The other unique thing your poems have impressed upon me is a feeling of constant work, struggle, striving, experimentation, and change that seems to extend through absurd, metaphysical, political, and historic landscapes that are ultimately examining your own past and present. What I see more than anything in your work is a tenacious drive to examine and expose the self, to unearth and divulge your own thoughts (in this instance I’m assuming the narrator of your work is most often yourself as opposed to a generalized “the self”). Do you see poetry in general or at least your own as a mode of growth, self examination, perhaps therapy or necessary release from the pressures we all face;  an exorcism/meditation if you will?

MH: I think I believe that artists always get to the universal via the personal (which is a paraphrase of something the painter Robert Motherwell said). But I don’t think of the poems as therapy. I’m not solving mental problems; I’m blasting off with joy or being awe struck or playing (which is a very serious thing). My poems are mostly exploratory, [meaning that] they point back to the process of their making and/or are demonstrations of a particular way of paying attention (my way of paying attention)— which I hope is something recognizable to other people, something they can connect with/to [via similarities] they find between my way and their way. I want my poems to open a window in the reader/listener’s life—from me to you, from you to me, and back again, forever. In other words (with other worlds), to create and court experiences of empathy is ultimately what I’m after.  Empathy is (and this is a paraphrase of something Dean Young has said) the imaginative act of putting yourself (figuratively, metaphorically) so entirely and intensely in someone else’s shoes that you feel what they feel. For me, empathy is a kind of visceral entanglement of the self with the other—one that’s entirely based in the notion that we are a lot more similar than we are different.  But it’s also those similarities which are the basis for appreciating and celebrating difference.

Of course, first and foremost, and whatever the aims, the poems have to be the best poems—as poems—that I can make, and I try to do that any way I can. I don’t want to limit possibility. I want to delimit it. My books are all really different from each other by design, because I am always trying to find new opportunities in the language—both in its form and its content—to reach out, to shock and be shocked and get a charge from our common humanity. I’m not worried about establishing a voice. I have faith that a voice will emerge from the activity of ranging far and wide wherever my interests and attention take me.

BS: Your new book from H_NGM_N Books (“Hangman” when you say it out loud) is called Debacle, Debacle. Folks can pre-order it here, an option that’s been up for only about a week. H_NGM_N also put out your last collection, so I assume you’ve forged a good working relationship with them. Could you tell us about the new book, your experiences working with H_NGM_N and a bit about them as a publisher?

MH: Well, just to be clear, H_NGM_N did my 2010 book WOLF FACE, but Typecast put out my last collection Sermons and Lectures Both Blank and Relentless in 2012. And in between those was a collection (mainly of several chapbooks) called Light-Headed that came out from BlazeVOX in 2011. My first book, Who’s Who Vivid, came out from Slope Editions in 2006—don’t wanna step on any editorial toes here.

As for Debacle Debacle, Nate Pritts, who founded, runs, and edits H_NGM_N, is a friend of mine from grad school. We’ve kept in close touch over the years, and all that time he’s been such an incredible champion of my work. I’m really grateful to Nate for his faith and trust in my process and poems. He’s truly my brother in more ways than one. As it turns out, many of the poems in Debacle Debacle respond directly to poems of Nate’s, or to ideas that we were both thinking about and discussing at the time the poems were written—ideas about friendship and the creative process, our respective domestic situations, my dumb (and very dumbly—I won’t go into it) broken foot. It’s funny, though, those poems seem to have all been written such a long time ago—2009-10 (a few in early 11). I’m two manuscripts beyond them now, but I’m excited that the book is finally coming out. I deliberately haven’t really read them anywhere, so that I can figure out how to do that when the book is in the world as a book. I just did one of those NEXT BIG THING interviews where I talk all about Debacle Debacle—its origin story. Anyone who’s interested can see it here. I’ve really loved working with all of the editors I’ve been fortunate enough to work with. Every one of them has been terrific and insightful. There aren’t many instances, I don’t think, where you get to work with your best friends, so I feel really lucky to get to do that.

BS: Another new accomplishment/change came in the form of a visiting Assistant

Professorship this past fall at the University of Texas, Austin. I’ve never been to Austin (unfortunately!), but I’ve spent plenty of time in Cincinnati. They must be very different places. I must admit, I’m completely in the dark about both schools, though I’ve heard and read a few things about UT’s Creative Writing MFA. How did you like Austin; was it a big adjustment? Did you find more enthusiastic students at UT than the Art Academy of Cincinnati, or perhaps a larger pool of creative writing students?

MH: I loved being at UT. The city of Austin’s great, but I was so busy that I didn’t really spend much time wandering around—though I did get to see Dinosaur Jr., Pianos Become the Teeth, La Dispute, and Willie Nelson w/ Asleep at the Wheel (not all on the same night, of course). The music scene’s intense. Anyway, the big difference between what I was doing in Texas and my usual gig at the Art Academy was that at UT I was teaching grad students, which I loved, in addition to undergrads. All the students at UT were awesome, but I found the grad students in particular to be wild and bewildering with brightness and all manner of full-throttle inspiration and anxiety (which can be an artist’s best friend). I adore them all—really. They made me such a better teacher and writer. I actually wrote about 75 poems while I was there and quite a lot of prose on poetry, too. It was poetry twenty-four seven, which is really different from my normal life. I’m married (14 years!) and I have a six year old daughter. My family couldn’t come with me to Texas, so in terms of that, I didn’t have the usual (very good—and very necessary for me) distractions of family life to contend with. Thus, I got even more work done than usual, but I was also missing my home life terribly. I loved being in Austin (where I have some amazing friends, in addition to the amazing students), but it’s also really good to be back home in Cinci.

As for the Art Academy, that’s a great gig too. It’s art-college—undergraduates—so all of my students are artists, my colleagues are artists, and there’s an incredibly high degree of interplay between visual and written expression.  The whole building smells like oil paint and words.  And I have some awesome poets that never cease to up the ante and challenge me as a teacher and a poet. I’ve been teaching there now for thirteen years, and I really do love it.  

BS: Cincinnati is just a stone’s throw away, so I assume you’ve read here before (apart from the sneak peak of Sermons you laid on us at the Writer’s Block open mic in 2011). Louisville is also a music-centric town, bar town, etc… has your (I’ll venture to say) distinct brand of exuberant reading been well received here, historically?

MH: Louisville’s a really fun city—a lot like Cincinnati actually—with its river life and little neighborhoods. People in Louisville have always been really warm and welcoming to me. I’m excited to be coming back. Of course, I’m always glad to get to see Jen Woods and her husband Bill, both of whom have become great friends and collaborators (not just with Sermons, but) in various kinds of mischief over the years. For me, a reading is always a time to reconnect with old friends one already knows and also to meet new people and potentially make new friends, not only in terms of the art, but on a personal level as well. These days I like readings more for who I get to see and meet than for anything having to do with people seeing me read—though reading is an incredibly invigorating and gratifying experience. It’s fun to share the work.

BS: Poetry in general, especially performed live can be a thing of energy, and you seem to plug right into it before cranking the gain up to eleven. Are you hoping to get the Speak Social crowd riled up on the 22nd?

MH: I’ll definitely bring a good energy supply—I do hereby promise. I have lots of new poems, and I’m excited for the opportunity to see how some of them fly in the air. Can’t wait. See you on the 22nd!

 

Bio (from the author’s own page):

Matt Hart is the author of four books of poems, Who’s Who Vivid (Slope Editions, 2006), Wolf Face (H_NGM_N BKS, 2010), Light-Headed (BlazeVOX, 2011), and Sermons and Lectures Both Blank and Relentless (Typecast Publishing, 2012), as well as several chapbooks. A fifth collection, Debacle Debacle, is forthcoming from H_NGM_N BKS in 2013. Additionally, his poems, reviews, and essays have appeared in numerous print and online journals, including Big Bell, Cincinnati Review, Coldfront, Columbia Poetry Review, H_NGM_N, Harvard Review, jubilat, Lungfull!, and Post Road, among others. His awards include a Pushcart Prize and fellowships from both the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and the Warren Wilson College MFA Program for Writers. A co-founder and the editor-in-chief of Forklift, Ohio: A Journal of Poetry, Cooking & Light Industrial Safety, he lives in Cincinnati where he teaches at the Art Academy of Cincinnati and plays in the band TRAVEL.

Louisville & Lexington Literary Events for February, 2013

note: ALL OF THESE EVENTS INCLUDE OPEN MIC OPPORTUNITIES.

Show up early, sign-up, share your work and become part of the literary community!

(TOMORROW) Feb 12th The Kentucky Great Writer’s Series @ Carnegie Center for Literacy. David King, National Bestselling Author of “Death in the City of Light”. George Ella Lyon, National Award Winning writer of “Holding On to Zoe”. Will Lavender, New York Times & International Bestselling Author of “Dominance”. 7pm

Feb 13th Subterranean Phrases feat. performance poetry troop: “Shakespeare’s Monkey” based in Evansville, IN: “This collection of Poets, Artists, and Musicians have been creating and performing together for over 20yrs. Lead by William Sovern, curator and host of the Poet House Emporium, this group has travelled far and wide; NYC, the beats live on.” @Decca (812 e. market, Lou, KY) in the downstairs lounge 9pm.

Feb. 20th Holler Poets #57 feat. Mischa Feigin and Matthew Haughton.Open-mic sign ups (1 poem please) at 7pm, event at 8pm. @ Al’s Bar of Lexington (601 N. Limestone)

Feb 22nd Speak Social with Matt Hart and Patrick Wensink 7:30PM  @ Java Bardstown (1707 Bardstown Rd. Lou, KY) p.s. Keep your eyes peeled for my interview with Matt Hart later this week!

Feb 24th Stone Soup with Angela Burton, Leigh Anne Hornfeldt, Matthew Haughton, And Robert L. Penick.         5:30pm @ The Bard’s Town (1801 Bardstown Rd. Lou, KY)

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.