Tuesday, July 25, 2006


While I was on the road last week, I managed to spend a couple of days at the Charles Olson Research Collection at the University of Connecticut in Storrs - an amazing experience, if you have an interest in Olson's work. I'll be posting more about Olson and the archives going forward, no doubt (there's a project in the works), but for now I'd just like to thank Melissa Watterworth, the collection's curator, and the other staff at Dodd for making my work there so enjoyable.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Dizzy at 35 Below

The production of four one-act plays I mentioned a few posts ago ( here) is now officially titled "Dizzy." If you see or hear references to "Dizzy" in arts calendars, etc., that's it.

Also, the Rapid River print version of the story mentioned that it was at "35 Below on Wall Street," an error neither I nor my editors caught before the magazine went to print. 35 Below is part of the ACT complex at the intersection of Market and Walnut streets, a few blocks east of Wall Street. My apologies to anyone who might have tried to find it on Wall Street.

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Thursday, July 13, 2006

Black Mountain College Show Amazes Philly

Poet CA Conrad has a note up at PhillySound about the opening of "Greetings from Black Mountain College" at the Bridgette Mayer Gallery in Philadelphia, which I mentioned here. CA says it was "an amazing event;" I don't doubt it at all.

PLEASE, YOU MUST MUST MUST MUST MUST GET YOURSELVES OVER TO THE GALLERY AS SOON AS POSSIBLE! It's FILLED with Black Mountain artists' work, from Jonathan Williams, to Robert Motherwell and Elaine de Kooning. What an exciting show it is!


It really would be silly to miss this one!

The enthusiastic caps are from the original post. It sounds like Michael Rumaker was in great form for his reading, too.

If you're in Philadelphia this summer (the show's up until August 19th), take CA's advice.


Photo of the Studies Building at Black Mountain College (now Camp Rockmont) borrowed from PhillySound.


Monday, July 10, 2006

Tom Meyer on the Airwaves

When Tom Meyer came to Asheville in March to read his new translation of the daode jing at the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center, I managed to record an interview with him across the street at WCQS. Today part of it aired on WPVM; it'll be broadcast again Tuesday at 6:00 PM and Wednesday at 7:00 AM, and is available as an internet stream from the station website.

It's also available as a download this week; just use the "Archive" link and scroll down to "WordPlay."



The photo of Thomas Meyer is by Reuben Cox.

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Saturday, July 08, 2006

Michael Rumaker Brings Geetings from Black Mountain College

If I were in Philadelphia tonight, I'd head over to the Bridgette Mayer Gallery on Walnut Street to catch novelist and poet Michael Rumaker reading from Black Mountain Days, his extraordinary memoir of his student years at Black Mountain College.

The Gallery is hosting "Greetings from Black Mountain College," featuring work by students and faculty at the college, including Josef Albers, Elaine de Kooning, Joseph Fiore, Ray Johnson, Leo Krikorian, Gregory Masurovsky, Robert Motherwell, Kenneth Noland, Jonathan Williams, and others. Given the transformation in American art these folks helped create over the last sixty years, it should be an amazing exhibit. The Gallery's page on the exhibit has images of some really striking pieces. Artist Robert Godfrey curated the show for the Gallery.

Michael will be reading at 7:00.

The show runs through August 19th. I do plan a trip north, so perhaps I'll get a chance to see it before it comes down.


The photograph (by Alice Sebrell, if recollection serves) captures Michael at the reception for the publication of Black Mountain Days held at the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center. The Center, incidentally, loaned many of the pieces in the show at the Gallery.

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Thursday, July 06, 2006

Updated: The Reading at Osondu ...

... starts early, at 6:00. I was uncertain myself, and so called them, since I figured I ought, you know, to be there for it. So it's 6:00.

No mention of the reading on Osondu's site, but, then, they don't seem to mention much there; I'd guess web presence isn't a focus for them.

The store is at 184 North Main Street in Waynesville, which sounds like it's right downtown. The store's telephone 828.456.8062, in case you need directions.

See some of you there, I hope.

Update: The reading really is at 6:00, since Osondu advertised it for that time. Unfortunately, the WNCW arts calendar and various other media have publicized it for 7:30, the time I originally had it scheduled for as well. Okay ... It's occasions like this one that persuaded me back in the 70s that there just might be something to astrology, even if it did drive my secular materialist friends into apoplectic states when I'd venture to talk about it. Mercury, you see, messenger of the gods, master of communication, just went retrograde; during his apparently backward motion, things he rules are likely to be a bit, shall we say, trouble prone. If you do come out tomorrow night, be a little more vigilant than otherwise on the road.

And if enough people show up at 7:30, what the hell, we'll have another reading.

Update 2: And I see my Blogiversary has rolled around, though that first post was mostly a matter of seeing if this Blogger thing worked. It did.

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Monday, July 03, 2006

The Play's the Thing

Poets have been tempted by the theater ever since Thespis, Greek singer of dithyrambs, donned his masks and dared to portray, as an actor, characters outside the chorus, thus, the determining legend has it, creating drama. The story is no doubt more complex; neolithic shamans portrayed animal spirits and wore masks, and ancient religions involved the elements of what we would call dramatic performance. But there’s no doubt that since his era, some 534 years BCE, some of the best of the west’s poets have felt the pull of the stage, the power of language in character, and the mask it provides.

This month two of Asheville’s most interesting young writers, Chall Gray and Devin Walsh, continue that long procession and make their leap to the stage: July 14 they open four original one act plays at 35 Below. Two of the plays are theirs, and the other two are by local poets; David Hopes penned one and Jaye Bartell the other. Gray says his and Walsh’s goal is to create a theater company different from others in the area, many of which provide fine performances, and to “show people that there’s also great playwriting” in town.

Gray and Walsh got to know one another at a meeting of the Asheville chapter of Toastmasters International, the non-profit that helps people of all backgrounds become, as they say, better and more confident speakers. Walsh’s dad had been a member for twenty-five years, so he’d grown up with the organization, and found for himself that its practice helped when he had to address the public. He and Gray were both writers and both active in creating literary publications, Metabolism for Walsh, an online and published “literary salon for the intellectually curious,” funded by UNCA, and Blue Elephant, which Gray helped create at AB Tech. While Walsh had published fiction and flash fiction (he and Gray both have had work up at the Flasheville site, he felt stymied when it came to playwriting. “Then”, he says, “Chall stepped in.” By last spring they had created Metabolism Productions and undertaken the development of the project that hits the boards on the 14th.

The plays … well, don’t be thinking Tennessee Williams, be thinking more along the lines of Samuel Beckett, but (if the work of Walsh’s that I’ve heard is any guide) funnier. His “Rochester and Pennyboil” has two middle-aged playwrights drinking and bemoaning their failures, with “vocabularies unleashed and lots of elevated wordplay”. Gray’s “Love from A to Z” is a love story in, of course, twenty-six parts. Hopes’ “Piss”, a “quirky, funny play,” Walsh says, features five characters “extensively versed in art history” in conversation. Jaye Bartell’s “Recalling Paradise” features a man who videotapes himself when he’s sleeping just to make sure he still exists in that state, and the dreams he has as he sleeps of two women without mirrors trying to convey to one another what they look like.

All the plays are fully cast, but as of a week ago Gray and Walsh were still interested in hearing from folks with theater experience, especially on the technical side; you can write them at metabolismproductions@gmail.com.

Metabolism plans to stage three productions a year; their second offering, now in the planning stage, should hit the boards in early November. It will feature plays by women playwrights.

Time will tell if these works catch the conscience of the king, or of the age, but I’ll wish all involved a good “break a leg” (that’s a way to appease the spirit of Thespis, who still lurks behind the scenes, they say, creating mischief), and see them on the stage.

When: July 14, 15, 8 pm, July 16 2:00 pm. July 20, 21, 22 8 pm, July 23, 2:00 pm.

Tickets can be prepurchased at ACT Box Office, Malaprops, and The Reader's Corner beginning Monday, July 3. Chall says "Seating is limited so we recommend that people get tickets early."

Admission: $5 for students, $10 for the public otherwise.


Updated with corrected show times. And I made Devin a poet; he claims not to be one.
Updated also to fix the link to Metabolism.

This post appeared in somewhat different form in
Rapid River Magazine's July issue.

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