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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

Not the evening news: Asheville Poetry Review’s latest offering

by Rob Neufeld

 

            What has always been impressive about “Asheville Poetry Review,” now offering its 23rd issue in 20 years, is its variety and balance.

            It’s got its authors of the region, and its national and international contributors; it’s got lyrical, narrative, philosophical, and experimental works.  Vets and still-wets.  Interviews, reviews, and news that stays news (as Ezra Pound liked to call poetry).

            Let me give you a few examples from Vol. 20, no. 1.

 

That’s a sonnet?

 

            Robert West’s poem, “Sonnet,” contains 14 lines—and only 12 words.  It abandons the traditional meter, but sticks to a rhyme scheme, ending with “on-/ ly/ Thou,/ own/ me/ now.”

            Yes, West likes to play, and also pray, as is evident, too, in his first poem in the volume, “Nadir,” which goes:

            “Each morning you’d recite, Let there be light,/ and face the day repeating that refrain. / Whatever terrors chased you through the night, / each morning you’d recite, Let there be light.”

            The poem continues using rhyme and repetition to create a circular feeling.

            Turn the book over, flip pages from the back, and you come to Philip Belcher’s “Gentle Slaughter,” a very different twist.

            Belcher, Vice President of Programs at the Community Foundation of WNC, takes us to a local scene and engages in purposeful anti-lyricism.

            “The women and liberated men thumping melons/ at Whole Foods this year,” he begins, “require chickens labeled gently slaughtered…”

            He continues his specific report with a visit to Syglenda (Syglenda Smith Saziru, farmer at John Smith’s Hill Harm), whom he observes closely as she goes to a shed “where the birds are gassed before uncrating,/ before exsanguination.”  The scientific word works very well in its drawn out anti-poetry.

            And it supports Belcher’s point.  You may love gentleness, but survival and industry are raw.  Belcher gives us three images: Tyson’s painful mechanized process; Syglenda’s mother’s lullaby-singing prelude to the instant kill; and her father, picking up a wing-shot dove and “slapping its head/ against his heel to be sure that it was dead.”

            That may not be Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “bird thou never wert”; but it is imagery.

 

Gauntlet tossed

           

            So, what’s happening with American poetry—involved as it is in a Golden Age of productivity, seriousness, and variety; but in a slump in terms of general popularity?

            “Asheville Poetry Review” is one of the best places to find out.

            The new issue contains a pertinent interview (conducted by Vermont poet Chard deNiord) with one of contemporary America’s greatest poets, Jack Gilbert, who died in Nov. 2012.

            “If a poem is abstract it’s not human and therefore can’t have an emotional impact,” Gilbert said.

            deNiord asked Gilbert about what has happened with contemporary poets, many of whom, Gilbert explained, had to get experimental to break away from their predecessors, those of the great Eliot, Williams, Stevens, and Pound generation.

            “Much of postmodern poetry has no significance at all,” Gilbert elaborated.  “Unless you like puzzles…It’s nice, but it’s not going to change your life.”

            The gauntlet has been thrown down to poets.  Dig deep.  Change our lives.

 

Backwaters of the future

 

            Let’s apply the challenge to “New Songs,” a poem that APR received from Thomas P. Feeny, an N.C. State Foreign Languages professor, who translates the immortal Federico Garcia Lorca, whose poem begins: “The afternoon says: I am thirsty for shade!” 

The thirst then extends to a wish for “new songs…A morning song that startles the air/ at the tranquil backwaters/ of the future.  And fills with hope/ their ripples and their silty depths.”

            The poet restates his theme in various and exciting ways, putting Gilbert’s prosaic entreaty into—as the title indicates—song.

            Is it a weakness that the poem is abstract—not only in that it has no historical context, but also that it uses such words as “hope,” “sadness,” and “soul”? 

No.  It just goes to show that abstractions such as “Don’t be abstract,” have problems.  Gilbert meant scientific abstractions, not emotional ones.

 

Ticket to ride

 

            Universal versus specific—we see the same division in pop songs: Beatles versus Springsteen (though the Beatles did produce “A Day in the Life” and “Eleanor Rigby”).

            It some ways, it’s a false distinction.  The main trick is to give a reader or an audience member something on which to hitch a ride, whether it’s an archetype or a Friday night.

            I say, “Friday night,” because that’s the turning point in “Meanwhile,” a poem by Melissa Crowe of Asheville.

            “In the gypsy language, the word for tomorrow/ is the same as the word for today,” she begins; and then, like Garcia Lorca, repeats her theme in interesting new ways.  “I long and am lit up,” she writes.

            She also writes, “Once the phrase a Friday night/ wracked me with cries—there are only so many/ and we don’t know when we’re having the last…”

            I love this.  The poet gets our attention because she’s crying over a phrase.  “Friday night,” a specific experience shared by contemporary Americans becomes a universal thing.

 

Latent power

 

            Gaylord Brewer, a poet and professor from Middle Tennessee, contributes “More Honored in the Breach: The Long Departure”—a pumped-up title for an elegantly subversive poem.

            His touchpoint is a man—that one, there, out of sight of the singing crone—who believes he’s the archangel of “The Great Deity of Faithlessness.”

            Is he a street person?  We are asked to “follow as he approaches/ a last time the dark men congregated/ in the door of the village bar.”

            Gilbert said in his interview that we don’t want puzzles, but we do want riddles, especially ones that are puzzling enough to spark interpretation, but not discourage it.

            Brewer’s “holy man” is about to have his “last morning,” his passage—to homeless death?—marked by the raging sun he’d prophesized.  “And thus/ the cold clouds of heaven descended./  I tell you, such is his terrible power.”

            The irony and pathos in that last line is a killer.  A wretch does have the power to mythologize his or her fate.

            There are a lot of other discoveries to be made in this latest APR—William Wright’s memoir-like, “Boyhood Trapped Behind the Eyelids,” a feast of sounds and images; Katherine Soniat’s “Flash Karmas,” visions, prompted by 11 key words, of the kinds of things that end up being memorable; Douglas Rutledge’s review of Steven Haven’s book of poems, “The Last Sacred Place in North America.”

            Haven leads off, Rutledge immediately notes, with the line, “They failed to show it on the evening news,” which Rutledge connects to “a failure of a method of thinking.”

            Here, the two writers share a faith common among poets, going back to Ralph Waldo Emerson, who said, “Things are in the saddle and they ride mankind.”  We need a revolution of consciousness; but whom do we trust?

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