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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

Started by Rob Neufeld in Local History Aug 25, 2017.

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Connie Regan-Blake posted events
Thursday
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Intermission

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

Coalescence

Coalescence (part of  Living Poem)by Rob Neufeld Intro 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, disabling our power.) Distractions are good, puzzles that teaseAnd please and fill the main scene,…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
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Explore the Landscapes of Story and Telling at Lenoir-Rhyne Center for Graduate Studies

January 23, 2019 at 10am to February 27, 2019 at 12pm
A Storytelling Offering in Asheville, NCWednesday Mornings 10am-12pmJanuary 23 – February 27, 2019 This winter Connie is excited to offer a learning opportunity to warm-up your storytelling voice and creativity!  Join her in Asheville, NC at Lenoir-Rhyne University for six story-work sessions with a weekly format that allows for skills to grow over time while encouraging a consistency in discovering, revisiting and refining your stories. During these weekly sessions participants are invited…See More
Nov 6, 2018
Connie Regan-Blake posted an event
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Explore the Landscapes of Story & Telling at Lenoir-Rhyne Center for Graduate Studies

January 23, 2019 at 10am to February 27, 2019 at 12pm
A Storytelling Offering in Asheville, NCWednesday Mornings 10am-12pmJanuary 23 – February 27, 2019 This winter Connie is excited to offer a learning opportunity to warm-up your storytelling voice and creativity!  Join her in Asheville, NC at Lenoir-Rhyne University for six story-work sessions with a weekly format that allows for skills to grow over time while encouraging a consistency in discovering, revisiting and refining your stories. During these weekly sessions participants are invited…See More
Oct 28, 2018
Connie Regan-Blake updated an event
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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
Connie Regan-Blake updated an event
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Connie Regan-Blake's Taking Your Story to the Stage Workshop at StoryWindow Productions

April 5, 2019 to April 7, 2019
The focus of this “Taking Your Story to the Stage” 3-day workshop is on storytelling performance. Each participant is asked to come with a story that is almost “stage-ready.” Set in Connie’s home tucked in the beautiful mountains surrounding Asheville, NC, this workshop provides a supportive, affirming…See More
Oct 28, 2018
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Let’s say every word is precious

Let’s say every word is precious (Part of Living Poem) Let’s say every word is precious.Say every word is precious.Every word is precious.Every word precious.Every word.Word.--Rob Neufeld, Oct. 16, 2018See More
Oct 17, 2018
Rob Neufeld posted discussions
Oct 12, 2018
Nancy Sutton replied to Rob Neufeld's discussion Metamorphoses
"Poignant in so many ways!   "
Oct 3, 2018
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Metamorphoses

Metamorphoses (Part of Living Poem)Hear audio: Metamorphoses%20181004_0192.MP3 So Apollo committed the first rape.He’d come back from exterminating Python,The Bane of Humanity, now his arrow-victim,And stopped to mock…See More
Oct 2, 2018
Joan Henehan replied to Joan Henehan's discussion on Reading Living Poem
"Fantastic, that will be very helpful."
Sep 22, 2018

Portrait of a local bookstore: Firestorm

by Rob Neufeld

 

PHOTO CAPTION: Joey Kasanke, Libertie Valance, and Jaime Theophilos (l to r), collective members of Firestorm Books, stand at the entrance to their co-op bookstore.

            Seven months ago, Firestorm Books and Coffee moved from downtown Asheville to 610 Haywood Road in West Asheville, inaugurating a new era in the evolving cooperative’s history.

            Now, it is a general bookstore—West Asheville’s only—as well as a one-of-a-kind, go-to place for exploring millennial views of alternative history.

            By “alternative history,” I don’t mean science fiction about what our future would look like if some key event in the past had gone differently—though Firestorm is rich in such titles.  I mean what our present time looks like as a new generation of idealists and activists turn away from what they see as failed policies.

            I love independent bookstores.  Each store’s entire inventory, and not just its staff picks, reflects independent choices; and the shop expresses a personality that makes it a destination location.

            Let’s go on a tour of Firestorm.

 

First insight

 

            “Staff Picks” is on the right as you come in the door.  I see that Joey has featured Jamaica Kincaid’s travel essay, “A Small Place,” about Antigua, and I’m glad for that.  I want to read it now.

            And Mary Beth, who oversees the café, has on her shelf, “The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Eastern North America.”  She got a degree in Environmental Studies at UNC Asheville; and carries a beat-up bird book (a Peterson guide) in her back pocket.  “I love guide books that encourage people to interact with the natural world,” she says.

            The café is vegan; I had a latte with almond milk.

            The thing that really grabbed my attention on the Staff Picks shelves was the collection of books on anarchism—a term that demands a better understanding than what the media generally allows us, if understanding what’s going on today matters to us.

            “There isn’t one anarchism,” store co-founder Libertie Valance says.  Anarchism “is an umbrella term for a family of philosophies that take as their root...the desirability of a society free of coercion.”

 

Not granddad’s rad

 

            I am ready to be educated because I still hear the echoes of fear coming from the anarchist scare of the 1910s, when one branch of anti-capitalist, anti-government dissidents had set off bombs to make their points.

            That was also the time of horrific workplace abuses, such as the Triangle Shirtwaist Company fire, so our view may be skewed by the news-making violence of the era.

            By World War II, Andrew Cornell writes in his brand new book, “Unruly Equality,” “a new generation of anarchists looked to radical pacifism,” and developed a philosophy “that advocated (that) individuals focus on living their own lives in a fashion that resembled their ideals as closely as possible.”

            Today, Cindy Milstein writes in her pocket-sized primer, “Anarchism and Its Aspirations,” “the world is increasingly messy.”  That’s a gentle way of putting it.  “Rather than retreating,” she says, “it’s imperative that we advance toward an egalitarian community of communities.”

            So, what we have in today’s anarchist movement is something that’s remarkably utopian—no hierarchies!—and also willing to be pragmatic, acknowledging that achieving a world society that operates as a federation of small, democratic, trusting councils is going to take time and trials.

            Demonstrating this self-awareness, there’s a bookstore favorite, “Come Hell or High Water: A Handbook of Collective Process Gone Awry” by Delfina Vannucci and Richard Singer.  It includes stick-figure cartoons, such as the one in which a youth points at a devil figure and says, “Look out!  It’s the process tyrant!”  And the tyrant roars, “Obey every radical norm!”

            Firestorm follows its principles in its business practices: decision by consensus; shared profits; politically-themed events, but no electoral ones; and ecological policies.  It has also adapted to situations by, for instance, creating a division of labor when it decided to manage its café separately from its bookstore.       

 

More of the tour

 

            The minds behind the philosophical practice section of Firestorm, now also showcasing fiction, have provided an exciting selection.

            On the “New Arrivals” table and among the 3,000 fiction and non-fiction titles shelved along four long aisles behind it, some special books emerge from my buyer’s blind spot.

            Among prominent novels such as Salman Rushdie’s latest, “Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights” (he’s at UNC Asheville, Feb. 18), and classics, such as a strong collection of English Romantic poets, there are the following works that get a boost from the new Zeitgeist.

            “The Automobile Club of Egypt” by Alaa Al Aswany reveals a family caught up in the Egyptian Revolution of 1952, giving us a workers’ perspective with many suspenseful cliff-hangers.

            “Welcome to Night Vale” turns a popular podcast into a novel that combines the spirit and style of two previous eras’ cult favorites, “The Twilight Zone” TV show and Douglas Adams’ “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.”

            “The Gap of Time” by Jeanette Winterson modernizes Shakespeare’s “The Winter’s Tale” by portraying the banishment of a baby daughter by a London hedge fund manager; and by enlarging upon the personal and redemptive elements.

            Along the right-hand wall, a how-to section includes valuable guides to home-building, forest-harvesting, food preparation, and the like, thanks to a crew of consultants drawn from local patrons.

            On the left, on the way to the café, the zine collection thrives with publications so homemade, I got stabbed by a staple binding “It’s Down to This,” reflections and critiques about community and sexual violence.  The great discovery was the Doris series, in which the author keeps a narrative journal that exhibits a wonderfully wry, innocent, contemporary, non-mainstream voice.

            In back is a decent children’s section, which includes, “3 Sleeps,” gorgeously illustrated by West Asheville resident, Shannon Capezzali. 

            I should also note that, as I was sampling Firestorm’s offerings, and commenting on various things, staff members sometimes came over to recommend titles in a non-intrusive, informed way.  This wasn’t the disinterested hipster mode you sometimes experience in cool commissaries.  These people mean business in the best customer-service sense.

FIRESTORM EVENTS

 

History professor David Gilbert conducts a discussion of his book, “The Product of Our Souls: Ragtime, Race, and the Birth of the Manhattan Musical Marketplace,” today, 5 to 7 p.m., at Firestorm Cafe & Books, 610 Haywood Rd., West Asheville (255-8115).

 

Matissa Kent-White, author, and Shannon Capezzali, illustrator, present their new children’s book, “3 Sleeps,” and give a bilingual reading, 11 a.m., Feb. 27.

 

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