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Interview with Gail Godwin about Grief Cottage

Started by Rob Neufeld in AC-T Book Reviews Aug 3, 2017.

Ellington in Asheville--a survey

Started by Rob Neufeld in Local History Oct 6, 2017.

Dave Minneman, heroic portrait

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Latest Activity

Connie Regan-Blake posted an event

Connie Regan-Blake’s 14th Annual Summer Storytelling Retreat & Adventure at StoryWindow Productions

July 14, 2019 at 10am to July 20, 2019 at 4pm
Come to the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Asheville for 7 days of story-listening & story-telling along with coaching, community & supportive exploration. This 14th annual workshop welcomes all levels of expertise, from beginner to experienced teller. Participants discover ways of being in the world that nurture your creative flow while developing skills to: Find, create, learn, and polish storiesEffectively integrate voice with image,…See More
Mar 2
Sue Diehl shared their event on Facebook
Feb 8
Sue Diehl posted an event

Montreat College Friends of the Library Celebrate National Library Week at Graham Chapel, Gaither Hall, Montreat College, Montreat, NC

April 9, 2019 from 3pm to 5pm
Patti Callahan, author of the recent novel Becoming Mrs. Lewis, and Don W. King author of Out of My Bone: the Letters of Joy Davidman, A Naked Tree: Love Sonnets to C. S. Lewis, and Yet One More Spring: a Critical Study of Joy Davidman, will co-present on their works about Joy and her husband C.S. Lewis.  The event is free and open to the public on April 9, 2019 in Graham Chapel, Gaither Hall, Montreat College.Reception and Book signing to followSee More
Feb 8
William Roy Pipes posted a discussion


I have, just released two Appalachian Novels.OUT OF THE SHADOWS, begins deep in the Appalachian Mountains of in WNC. It is partly a true story about a young man who ran away from home at the age of fifteen. He meets another runaway, and they fall in love.A journey where he faced adversaries, but also success as he walked, hitchhiked, and made his way across the country.GONE LIKE A CANDLE IN THE WIND, is a story of three young people growing up in a farming community in the Appalachian…See More
Jan 28
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

The Main Show

The Main Show: a story-poem stage presentation(part of  Living Poem)Program Notes (A program note reader comes out to read from the program notes.) Reader: Don’t listen, children, and do not hear.(A monster is coming and there’s no escapeWithin this story, and no good way to tell it, Except to gaze at the horror as at a flower,A disaster streaming off extremes it breedsEverywhere and in our minds,…See More
Jan 26
Don Talley posted a discussion

Hollywood Pictures Inc in Fairview

In the 1920's it seemed the whole country was caught up in excitement about films and Hollywood.    Asheville and Western North Carolina were well aware of the hoopla of Hollywood.   In fact, Hollywood (or at least filmmaking) was already beginning to come to Western NC.I recently stumble across an article from the Jun 6 1926 issue of The Asheville Citizen Times which mentions that Hollywood Pictures Inc, was planning to film just south of Asheville, near Fairview.  But....was this really…See More
Jan 23
Connie Regan-Blake posted events
Jan 16
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion


IntermissionHear audio by clicking mp3 attachment!(Part of poem, "Coalescence") I thought I might take a break at this point to look around,Now that I’m in the business of making things resound.It’s so nice to have the luxury of being carefree. If you stop and sit back and try to take in everything,It stuns you and you can’t focus on anythingUntil something crops up, and what…See More
Jan 16
Joan Henehan replied to Rob Neufeld's discussion Coalescence
"It's an odyssey..."
Jan 8
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion


The Main Show: A Story Poem Cycle(formerly, Coalescence) (part of  Living Poem)The Main Show  Program Notes (A program note reader comes out to read from the program notes.) Don’t listen, children, and do not hear.(A monster is coming and there’s no escapeWithin this story, and no good way to tell it, Except to gaze at the horror as at a flower,A disaster streaming off extremes it breedsEverywhere and…See More
Dec 11, 2018
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

The Sultan's Dream

The Sultan’s Dream (Part of Living Poem) When it comes to walking, the jig’s up.No more fit lad sitting at the pub.No more flim-flam smiling with a limp. See how the legs totter and the torso leans.Do you know what a lame sultan dreams?Of reclining on a divan wearing pantaloons, Comparing his plight to a mountaineer’sNegotiating an icy bluff in a fierce wind,And then lounging in a tent to unwind. Which…See More
Nov 15, 2018
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

The Tale of Ononis

The Tale of Ononis by Rob Neufeld Part 1: The Making of a Celebrity ❧  Hare Begins His Tale  Ononis was my region’s name.People now call it Never-the-same.I’ll start with the day a delivery came. The package I got was a devil’s dare,Swaddled and knotted in Swamp Bloat hairAnd bearing, in red, one word: “Beware!” Bloats are creatures from the Land of Mud Pies,Wallowing in waste with tightly closed eyesUntil fears bring tears and the bleary bloats rise.   ❧  Hare’s Colleagues  I asked my boss,…See More
Nov 9, 2018
Connie Regan-Blake posted an event

Drop Your Troubles: A Solo Storytelling Performance with Connie Regan-Blake at Black Mountain Center for the Arts

December 1, 2018 from 7:30pm to 9pm
Join this internationally renowned storyteller, Connie Regan-Blake, as she transforms a packed theater into an intimate circle of friends with old-timey charm, wisdom, and humor. We’ll also welcome the Singer of  Stories, Donna Marie Todd, who will perform her original story, “The Amazing Zicafoose Sisters.” Connie’s last two shows at BMCA have sold…See More
Nov 6, 2018
Connie Regan-Blake updated an event

Connie Regan-Blake presents A Slice of Life: An Evening of Stories at Black Mountain Center for the Arts

April 6, 2019 from 7:30pm to 9pm
Join nationally celebrated storyteller, Connie Regan-Blake, as she hosts her workshop participants in an enchanting evening of storytelling in “A Slice of Life: An Evening of Stories.” The event will be hosted by the Black Mountain Center for the Arts, just a short drive from Asheville nestled in the picturesque mountains surrounding the area. Call the Center for advance tickets (828) 669-0930 or order…See More
Oct 28, 2018

The Main Show: A Story Poem Cycle

(formerly, Coalescence)

 (part of  Living Poem)

The Main Show 


Program Notes


(A program note reader comes out to read from the program notes.)


Don’t listen, children, and do not hear.

(A monster is coming and there’s no escape

Within this story, and no good way to tell it,


Except to gaze at the horror as at a flower,

A disaster streaming off extremes it breeds

Everywhere and in our minds, disabling our power.)


Distractions are good, puzzles that tease

And please and fill the main scene, which

Includes thinking about certain things.


What are sound reasons for optimism or

Romanticism, the will to believe that a quest

For virtue is not just its own reward, but more?


Why strive?  To feel more alive?

To answer another’s need and achieve rapport?

To align with forces important to support?


First off, let’s turn to the universe,

Coming at us as swirls within swirls, and invest

In the evidence of something larger than ourselves.


Although one’s life presents just one of countless views,

The complexity, integrity, and connectivity

Of any one experience is more than enough news


To fill time, as we see in the life-dream-envelope

Developing now at hand, a loop to the reel

Of fantasies that had captured last century’s youth.


Movies entered villages, screens, and experience.

American mythology reached its zenith.

Other influences curled around the era.


A nameless dread, banned from thoughts in bed,

Blew through the minds of the walking dead

As they sleep-walked through history.


The temperature-evaporation-salinity spiral

Measured in oceans on a government dial

Tended toward the vector of suicidal.


Let’s not talk about that, let’s talk about

“Havenglade Glen,” just now coming out

With its ready-for-prime-time title.



Track 1: Prologue


(A character comes on stage and makes this speech.)


The world’s out of control.  Syndromes rule

Whirlpools of climate, hysteria, disease. 


(An image shows up on a screen.)


How might one take action to achieve peace? 

We must go somewhere mythic, naturally

To the era of greatest confidence, the 1950s,

Where spirits who’d waited numerous centuries

For an opportunity to blast past history

Produced the ghosts that have come to roost

In our current stage near the end of our spool.


(An image of a rocket ship appears on the screen, and then, curtains open on a scene above which a banner reads, Havenglade Glen. The program reader reads:


Curtains retract on a scene we regard

With close attention and a steady heart

As icons from various haunts take refuge

In Havenglade Glen, where they’ll induce

Revelations that will bring us to our knees.)



Track 2: The Setting


(The author or the director comes on stage to narrate the setting, aided by audio-visuals, or left up to the imagination.)


The Yucca flats and the planet Mars coalesce

In the minds of those from the era of missiles.


In radioactive zones, anomalies multiply

Like planets where laws of reality dont apply.


There was gel in the hair and an apple in the box,

While at the back door a night thought knocked.


All you need to do is look at the back door screen.

How can you not?  You know what I mean.


If you look, its an entrance to a haunting plot,

A 20th century romance with greed and glut


Ore had been the big score for power-mongers

Whose engines were huge and egos humongous.


It was easy to tell bad guys from good, except for

Spies and aliens who could be anywhere.


Even good-guy spies, John le Carre showed,

Had to be double agents to be any good.


It was a world of shadows from above and behind,

And from below the complacency of the mind.


Geniuses were curried as essential ingredients

In an existential fantasy of scientific dominance.


What print hangs on the wall?  Einstein?  Teller?

A Manifest Destiny wagon turned interstellar?


Narcotics, gadgets, incubus-homes,

Robotics, spaceships, tricked-out genomes,

A science gospel with a martial mission

All form the backdrop of this exposition.


What is the point of technological dominion?

To defeat nature and obliviously lock in oblivion?



Track 3: Author Comment


I popped up as a boy genius in our 1950s house

And took the position of never taking the crown.


The crown, my parents believed, was a dirty affair,

The poison milk, the gilt of a millionaire.


There was no allowance for the space, though little,

Provided the camel through the eye of the needle.


In a twilight zone with a sci-fi penumbra,

The Unknown approached with an ID number.


Now, let’s fade into the illuminated sheen

Of the story filling up the wide screen,


A wet dream ‘50s kids thought dope:

Rocket wars in Cinemascope.


Goddard invented the liquid fuel rocket

And now any madman has a silo to dock it.


See the proof here as paranoia in the air

Is ignited by a strike from, it seems, nowhere.



Track 4: Lost City


(A wide-eyed moviegoer of the 1950s comes on stage to narrate action represented in images, movies, dramatic enactments, or the imagination.  This is called the retell mode.)


A strange electric storm shocks a ship at sea.

Experts warn it augurs the end of humanity.


Flood tides and earthquakes mark the geographic

Center of the disturbance as central Africa.


“The resources of the nation are at your disposal,

Bruce,” men greet Bruce’s expedition proposal.


Deep in deepest Africa on a set built by crews

In Hollywood studios, natives ooh at news.


Murderous giants are on the loose; and at the gate,

White men come, led by Bruce the brazen


Who raises his head, eyes all lit, as he learns

Of Magnetic Mountain, where occult fire burns.


Bruce knows from his soil-mining instructor

That hes hit upon the equivalent of a gusher.


In the mountain’s core, an evil emperor’s set on

More and more power in the face of Armageddon.



Track 5: An Aside


(A gnomish figure comes on stage to perform a verse jig.)


Here’s where the epic writer’s mind starts to spin

Into a jig grinning a Strangelove grin.


The emperors scientist when quizzed,

“Why didn’t you warn us about this?”

Says, “I guess it was the hypnotist.”


Even when the dictator shook his fist,

Shouting, ‘The cosmic condenser, I insist!’?”

The scientist pleads, “I didn’t mean this.”


It’s like Dr. He, laboratory baby concoctor,

Who snipped and re-stitched genetic structure,

And quipped, “This has nothing to do with horror.”


And now we return to the main show.

We’re all on dope, on a yoyo,

On a rolling slope, groping for hope.



Track 6: Lost City, continued


Help!  The dictator uses magnetic waves

To turn thrashing natives into soldier-slaves.


How can someone with many ways to hurt you

Be defeated?  The secret answer is virtue,


Which blinds Bruce, who hears a damsel’s cries

And follows it to the Hut of the Mysterious Voice.


He and his pal fall through a trap to a fate

That ends with the movie, and so must wait


For a month while in the Chasm of Doubt

Bruce has exposed weaknesses to contemplate.



Track 7: Author Interjection


I’ll tell you what I am feeling in all of this.

Bruce’s claims on virtuous truth stir uneasiness.


But, man! Winner self-love feels good,

Whether you come from the mansion, mill, or hood

And super-power dreams are in your blood


And you share your dream with a new breed,

Needing only the flag of liberation to succeed

Once upon a winners time in Nod.


The problem is the angel of righteousness.

How does its goodness cause blight in us?

How does redemptive light un-enlighten us?


This is like Spencers The Faerie Queen,

In which the queen can be not-what-she-seems

And the hero walks a crazy rhyme scheme,


Which is like Bruce’s date with the oracle,

Except that his troubles are not metaphorical

And he has less hope of a miracle.


Designs with symbols and flashing colors,

Slow down, slow to a crawl like a tumbler

To reveal the next story number.


Oh, number what?  Another random inanity?

An analogy, you say, to humanity,

Clicked to the pitch of tick-tick insanity?



Track 8: Havenglade


(Retell mode)


In Havenglade, where the spotlight dwells,

Gods and changelings open themselves

To affairs of the heart.


One day, a godling arrives in the glen,

A soft-hearted naïf with an appetite

That sometimes rules in the end.


He brings mead and pours himself

A big cup, and you, half a demitasse.

He sluices his gulp.


Do not think this tale a comic strip

Of archetypes.  The icons are themed

With idiosyncrasies and multiple identities.


The godling, when an emblazoned babe,

Had once discovered that the suck

On his nectar feed was stuck.


This would not do.  The occult brew

Contained rising-from-ashes power

And he felt supernatural hunger.


It’s not fair to make a babe gargantuan,

No matter how soft the medium

Or clear the brassy tone.


The pap that lads lapped all over the map

Gave sweet dreams to babys nap

Like a sap sucker enraptured by sap.


Sprouts that survived history’s ash

Blossomed in America’s prosperous flush

And emitted a long held-back breath.


The potency of the dream scene, boosted

By fantasies on big screens, produced

Godlings, avatars of greatness.


(Stage lights off.  Curtains close.  A spotlight shines on group of figures.)


The birthplace of godlings suddenly goes dark.

Stage left, figures nurture a spark

In a pose like a commemorative landmark.


“Stagehand, please, will you now take the cue

To break the suspension that attaches to

The godling’s lair and usher in an oracle?”


(Bertolt Brecht crosses the stage to declare:

“We who wished to prepare the ground

For friendliness, could not ourselves


Be friendly, but you who come after,

When man’s no longer a wolf to man,

Remember us with forbearance.”)


Thus goes the love-song of parents

Whose lives have shed their naïve appearance

In exchange for making a difference.


But what if the sacrifice and suffering,

The nursed hurts and kindled faith,

Could not control the cycling dynamic?


(Curtains open.  The spotlight goes off.  Stage lights go on.)


Curtains re-open on the godlings turf,

With the gargantuan taking things unto himself,

Unmoored from that forgettable time


When his contract had been up, and he’d cried,

“Do not reduce me to clay, Creator,”

And the Creator complied.


Freed from history, the heroic golem

Wandered city streets with a nowhere problem

Until entering a home where he played a godling.


You’d be right to think this the end of the story,

But there’s a plot twist just beyond its boundary.

I saw the golem leave the godling’s body


And the godling’s now in his natural element,

Generous, patient, relishing every moment.

Then light flickers, and up shows another revenant.



Track 9: Nyoka, the Jungle Girl


(Retell mode)


“We must go to the Lair of the Eagles,

Then the Tunnel of Bubbling Death,”

Nyoka says, interpreting pictographs.


Searching and subbing for her absentee

Father, she shoots guns and swings from trees

As her skirt flounces above her knees.


“The Tunnel of Bubbling Death?”

“Yes.  Passing through this tunnel,

We will reach the Valley of the Tauregs.”


Wait, are you saying Tuaregs?

The ancient nomads of North Sahara,

Today, stateless migrant workers

And exotics wandering in Bamako?


What we hear at this point is a keening.

Does this wailing warrant interceding?

Someone lifts a lid on a proceeding

And it’s like a trance.


“We are here, the will-not-be-forgotten,

Traversing dunes, guided by the stars,

Humming the tune of the clumping camel

And praising Allah.”


Meanwhile, the women, matriarchal,

Laugh, and the blue-clad sisterhood

Follow their drums home to the desert

To deliver some news.


In the 1950s, when the overlords left,

They left behind a wickedness,

The division of slaves and a race of bosses,

Hatreds cloned and alliances cleft.


Onward!  Nyoka is reading the script.  Hidden away

In a cave (where, Chad?), lay

The Golden Tablets of Hippocrates


And a cure for cancer!  I recall

This story, or something like it, Apollo

Ripping from a woods-nymph his child,


Asclepius, future high priest of medicine.

It’s the dictator and the scientist again!

And the fatal obsession with cheating death.


“We must get the tablets first,” says Vultura,

Queen of the tribespeople.  Untold treasure

Lies buried beneath Africa Obscura.


Like the fraying rope of a bridge tether,

Or a fire pit over which fights teeter,

Nyoka’s luck proves a bottom feeder.


“The Tunnel of Bubbling Death,

Well-named,” quoth Nyoka’s lieutenant 

As she tumbles into a flaming froth.


Nyoka’s a good girl, Nancy Drew-curious,

Fay Wray re-wrapped as an Army nurse,

Dorothy of Oz with a Scout knife in her purse.


What would it be like if she occurred in

Scenes with Bruce the brazen or the godling

Or with other morphs or forces in the unraveling?


Stay tuned, though this journey may go nowhere

Except into flames and a thermonuclear

Erasure, but that’s not the popular wager.


Track 10: The Return of Bruce


(Retell mode)


Behind a row of brownstones, lying low,

There’s an infirmary where wasted heroes go.

No one talks about this.


The inmates rarely have anything to say,

But when they do, it’s as if a break

In a seal reveals a world beneath a lake.


A disturbance in the ward where Bruce lies prone

Has people hurrying to hear his moan

Turn into something intelligible.


Off to the side, a nurse named Joan

Sifts through papers.  “Who’s this one?”

Her aide calls out, adjusting a microphone.


Joan questions Bruce in a mysterious voice,

Something about one of his exploits,

He thinks, and tries to find the edges of his cell.


No?  Well, is there anything he has to tell?

And then he hears the tolling of a bell

In a church in a town in the scrub of a foothill.


Theyd smiled and called him the infidel,

Citing a term that they knew well,

Going back to Vasco da Gama.


Mr. Brazen, is there something you remember,

Joan asks, about your time in Kenya,

And encounters with the Maasai or Akamba?


Lokop, Bruce said.  What, lock-up?  Loikop,

What the chief says when I drive my truck up.

To his village. Hes waving and shouting, “Njoo!”


‘Come, come this way, quick!’ he says, leading

Me to a stick and mud hut and to the pleading

Eyes of a girl whos having trouble breathing.”


Joan dares not interrupt this recitation,

But notices she needs to get the patient

A cup for his prolonged expectoration.


Track 11: CSI: Cytoplasm


(Author speaks.)


I interrupt this program to report

That the agents assigned to halt the dying

Neurons in my gestalt are striking

Out, thus drawing attention again to cures.


As I lay me down to sleep,

I try imagining what’s happening

Deep down in my mystery disease,

And latch onto drifts of news

Of ALS riding the thought-stream.


(Author speaks in retell mode.)


Suddenly I’m on Neuron Street,

The “CSI: Cytoplasm” beat.

At the crime scene,

Up pops Mutant Gene

As the cops’ top guilty candidate.


Glossies spread.  There are stacks of

Shots of possible gene malefactors,

SOD1, TDP-43.

And FUS/TLS, three

Prime suspects on which to focus.


“Rob, have you a stake in this hustle,

Stalking the murderer of your muscle?”

“No, my jam’s not genetic

But may still be connected

With genes being complicit, not causal.”


The inspector has doubts about my angle

And my tendency to rephrase and wangle

Words into a pattern

Like a Japanese lantern

Or like a dung beetle’s tidy dung apple.


“This gene,” says the chief, “fabricates

The protein, super-oxide dismutase.”

“SOD! the enzyme

That prevents super-oxides

From shooting off ion-grenades.”


The inspector now points to a pile-up

Of proteins at the gates where cells dial-up

Instructions for actions

To embolden nerve axons.

“See here in this protein?  There’s the foul-up.


The observed malformation, D90A, is

The twist found in all kinds of cases

Of ALS, its fold

As genetically old

As the ascendance of Homo sapiens.


“900 generations ago, the chief said,

Is when D90A first appeared,”

Fred informs old Job

Whom he’d wheeled to the rope

At the crime scene and told what he’d heard.


“30,000 years ago,” Job recalls,

“That’s when humans wiped out Neanderthals.

The Biblical kill

Caused a mutant allele

To hide out in genetic materials.”


It is also possible, Fred opines,

The gene rode the tail of a bloodline

As Neanderthals fled

And conquerors bred

With Neanderthal campsite lag-behinds.”


In the meantime, the crime scene’s boring.

You have to sit while workers keep poring

Over scans and data

And chemical quanta

And everything except what theyre ignoring.


“This investigation,” says the detective,

“Also points to O-2 negative.

Excuse me, you guys,

Must I sensationalize

Ion exchange to make it even more electric?


“Why, this case is a clinical challenge

In which meaning hangs on a valence,

Electrons dangling,

Genetics jangling,

And transmitters angling off-balance.”

--Rob Neufeld, 2019

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