Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Spirit of Black Mountain College ... coming right up

This weekend brings the Spirit of Black Mountain College festival at Lenoir-Rhyne College in Hickory. The festival, celebrating the 75th anniversary of Black Mountain College's founding, kicks off Thursday evening with a reception and a reading by Galway Kinnell, and runs through Saturday. Along the way, a mix of events, a melange of dance, music, visual arts and, of course, poetry. It's really a treat to be joining Lee Ann Brown, Thomas Meyer, Michael Rumaker (who'll actually read as a poet, though he's best known as a novelist and memoirist), Lisa Jarnot, Thomas Rain Crowe, Ted Pope, and the rest of the large company for all the brouhaha.

Here's my schedule, if you'd like to catch up with me or check out my work while you're there:


10:15 am in Belk Centrum: Weekend overview with all performers

2:00 pm in Belk Centrum: Reading/Performance with Thomas Meyer and Lisa Jarnot. (This looks to be my main reading)

3:00 pm in Belk Centrum: I'll be the facilitator for a panel discussion: "The Poets of Black Mountain College". Is form nothing more than the extension of content?

5:00 pm at the Lenoir-Rhyne dining hall: Ed Dorn's Gunslinger Book I (a readers theater performance with Thomas Meyer, Lee Ann Brown, Lisa Jarnot, Thomas Rain Crowe, et al.)

6:00 pm at the Hickory Museum of Art: Opening reception

8:00 pm at Hickory Museum of Art: Introduction of Poets


11:00 am at Hickory Museum of Art: Workshop (this is still billed in the online schedule as a reading, so I'm not quite sure which it is - but I'll be there either way).

2:00 pm in Belk Centrum: "Remembering Jonathan Williams (1921-2008): A Tribute". Thomas Meyer is coordinating this; I'll read a couple of Jonathan's poems, and speak from my memories of him.

And then I become an audience member, and spectator, hopping between shows and events. There will be some wonderful performances, I'm sure, and the exhibits will include some great pieces; much of the Black Mountain College Museum +Art Center's collection, for example, will be on display. If you're within range, do try to catch some of the festivities.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Happy birthday, William Carlos Williams

William Carlos Williams, born this day in 1883. He bought much more to American modernism than a red wheelbarrow, though that may be what he's now best remembered for. For me, he's still one of the essential poets, in all the variety, and all the periods, of his work.

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Hawks writes on recent human evolution, and comes up with a metaphor

Paleoanthropologist John Hawks reviews research into recent evolution , via an evaluation of a profile of geneticist David Goldstein, and questions the assumptions Goldstein makes regarding the evolution of intelligence. His conclusion:

The assumption here that I find the most troubling is that intelligence is somehow the purpose of recent human evolution -- so much so that populations could not be anything but identical. But nothing could refute that assumption more eloquently than the scans for recent selection. Yes, the brain is represented on those lists, but so are the testes. And the blood. And the gut. We know from functional genomics and gene expression that brain, gut, bone, and blood are often influenced by the same genes. Recent human evolution is not progress toward a pinnacle. The human population is a snowdrift where ten thousand trade-offs have blown together, mostly by the luck of mutations. [his emphasis]

"... a snowdrift where ten thousand trade-offs have blown together." I think he shows promise.

Hawks is almost always worth reading, so go give him an eye or two.

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Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Wordplay welcomes Thomas Meyer ...

Not actually, mind you; he didn't drive all the way over from Scaly Mountain to sit down in the studio this past Sunday. But he didn't have to, since I'd recorded several of his readings in recent years, and had sat down with him in another studio back in 2006 to talk about (among other things) his translation of the classic Chinese text daode jing.

Tom's a terrific poet, of course, so it was great fun to revisit the occasions I'd recorded. Those readings included one from September 30, 2005 at the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center, in which he gave, I thought, a really good overview of his work, from the poems collected in At Dusk Iridescent, to the long poem Coromandel (on line at the link), to his translation of the dao, which was then unpublished. He came back to the Center in March, 2006, though, after the dao's publication by Flood Editions, to present the text in full, so I used that recording for the show, as well as a snip from that interview we'd done the same day, rather than the excerpts from the previous fall.

When Hillsborough poet Jeffery Beam visited Asheville in July, he brought along several tapes featuring readings by, or interviews with, Jonathan Williams. One of those tapes, from a midsummer, 1994, reading at The Literary Institute, Muker, Swansdale, Yorkshire, Great Britain, also included a brief reading by Tom; I opened the show with it, since Tom hadn't featured its material in the 2005 foray back into his earlier work. Thanks, Jeffery.

Since we were beginning the show in Yorkshire, I used Ralph Vaughan Williams' "Fantasia on Greensleeves" for the show's opening theme, and honored the multivoiced Coromadel from 2005 with "Taboehgan" by the Balinese Gamelan Semar Pegulingan (recorded in 1941, and available on Music for the Gods from the Library of Congress). Tom had said he loved Bollywood soundtracks, but I didn't have any handy, so I closed with Ali Akbar Khan's "Blessings of the Heart, Part 2", from 1993's Garden of Dreams. Khan has composed for film scores throughout his long career, after all, and I bet a few were Bollywood productions.

Oh, you might notice that the show that's now available from the WPVM archive is several minutes longer than Worplay's hour, so I should confess that it's not the show that aired. If you happened to be listening live, you had an experience that the station's rickety archiving system failed to record. When I came back to the station Sunday evening to re-produce the show, I included a little more of the music than I could squeeze into our live slot.

Give it a listen.


15 September update: The show's now up on the ibiblio archive, here.
And here's a catalog of other Wordplay programs.


Photo of Tom by Reuben Cox

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Two new shows: Laura Hope-Gill and Glenis Redmond

Now up on the Wordplay archive, August shows with Laura Hope-Gill and Glenis Redmond, both former members of the Wordplay crew. Laura read from her upcoming title, The Soul Tree, and Glenis celebrated her new book, Under the Sun, just out from Main Street Rag:

August 24, 2008, featuring Laura Hope-Gill

August 31, 2008, featuring Glenis Redmond

Photo: Laura and Glenis just before a reading at the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center, May, 2006.

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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The ever-expanding Wordplay Archive ...

As of now, the following shows are available at ibiblio.org. Before 2008, shows were thirty minutes long; shows broadcast in
2008 and after are an hour long. Clicking on the date will take you to the .mp3 file for the specified show, clicking on "(production note)", where that's an option, will take you to the original Natures note about the show, where you'll often find information about the music used and other bits of incidental intelligence. The notes also contain links to the original locations of the programs on the station's server; shows stay on that server for only two weeks, though, so those links have long since been broken.



September 3, 2006, featured Laura Hope-Gill and Sebastian Matthews


February 11,2007 featured John Crutchfield

March 18, 2007 featured Laura Hope-Gill discussing her work with alchemy.

April 29, 2007 Laura Hope-Gill and I read and discussed the work of Robert Bly

May 27, 2007 featured Samuel Adams

June 10, 2007 featured Robert Bly reading at UNCA (production note)

June 17, 2007 featured Keith Flynn

July 1, 2007 featured Allan Wolf

October 14, 2007 featured Gary Hawkins

October 28, 2007 featured archival recordings of Walt Whitman, Alfred Tennyson, and other old masters

November 4, 2008 featured Buffalo poet Jessica Smith (production note)

November 11, 2007 featured recordings of William Matthews

November 18, 2007 featured Robert Morgan (production note)

December 2, 2007 featured Laura Hope-Gill

December 9, 2007 featured Nan Watkins presenting her translations of Yvan Goll (production note)

December 16, 2007 featured Mara Simmons

December 23, 2007 featured Laura Hope-Gill reading "A Child's Christmas in Wales"


January 13, 2008 featured Ed Dorn (production note)

January 20, 2008 featured Katherine Min

January 27, 2008 featured Gary Hawkins and Landon Godfrey

February 3, 2008 featured Sebastian Matthews and Dick Barnes

February 17, 2008, featured my April, 2006 reading for the publication of Natures

February 24, 2008 featured the very literate singer-songwriter Angela Faye Martin

March 2, 2008 featured Thomas Rain Crowe reading from Radiogenesis, and young poet Blaise Ellery

March 9, 2008 featured Chattanooga poet Chad Prevost (production note)

March 23, 2008 featured Jonathan Williams reading at Sylva's City Lights Books in May of 2005 (production note)

April 7, 2008 featured Galway Kinnell reading at Breadloaf in 2002

April 13, 2008 featured Laura Hope-Gill reading new work and pitching on the pledge drive show

May 25, 2008 featured Ross Gay in an interview with Joanna Cooper, and reading at Asheville's Malaprops Books (production note)

June 1, 2008 featured Coleman Barks performing at the Fine Arts Theater in April, 2008 (production note)

June 8, 2008 featured Wayne Caldwell, author of Cataloochee

June 15, 2008 featured archival recordings of Robert Creeley, including some recorded at Black Mountain College.

June 29, 2008 featured Nan Watkins presenting her translations of Yvan Goll - the extended edition (production note)

July 6, 2008 featured Landon Godfrey (production note)

July 13, 2008 featured Chall Gray

July 20, 2008 featured Jeffery Beam (production note)

August 3, 2008 featured Ken Rumble (production note)

August 10, 2008 Columbia, S.C., novelist Jenna McMahan visited Wordplay to discuss and read from her fun, insightful coming-of-age novel Calling Home . The show featured tunes by Van Halen and even Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird" - probably the only time that song has been played at WPVM. What can I say? Are there any coming-of-age stories set after 1960 in which sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll don't play a major part? They certainly do in this one.

August 17, 2008 Long-time co-host Sebastian Matthews returned to host a show that featured recent work and recent reading.

August 24, 2008, featured Laura Hope-Gill (production note)

August 31, 2008, featured Glenis Redmond (production note)

September 7, 2008, featured Thomas Meyer (production note).

September 14, 2008 Asheville poet Pat Riviere-Seel dropped by to share recent work and read from her upcoming book, The Serial Killer's Daughter. A Little-Known Fact: Pat was on the original enormous Wordplay production team.

September 28, 2008 Sebastian Matthews again hosted.

October 5, 2008 Wordplay regular Rose McClarney returned to share recent work and discuss her adventures in and out of creative writing programs.

October 12, 2008 Lee Ann Brown returned to Wordplay to give us a look at her recent work. Another Little-Known Fact: Lee Ann was the "guest" on the demo of Wordplay submitted to WPVM's Programming Committee way back when (production note)

November 2, 2008 Lee Ann returned with British Columbia poet Peter Culley, who was completing a residency at Marshall's French Broad Institute of Time and the River.

November 9, 2008 This show featured a reading Peter Culley gave in Marshall a few days before, and some archival recordings of the modernist great, Ezra Pound (production note)

November 16, 2008 Sebastian Matthews, Landon Godfrey, Laura Hope-Gill, Glenis Redmond and I celebrated the women of Black Mountain College, including poet Denise Levertov.

November 23, 2008 Bob and Arlene Winkler dropped by to discuss their RiverSculpture project, and to introduce the Asheville reading by poet Mark Strand that they'd sponsored (production note)

December 14, 2008 North Carolina Poet-Laureate Kay Byer, featured in a reading from early 2008 at the Asheville Art Museum (production note)

December 21, 2008 The extraordinary Robert Bly reading -... er, performing would be more accurate - at the Diana Wortham Theater with the Asheville world-music trio Free Planet Radio, and discussing his translations of Hafez, his trip to Iran with Coleman Barks, and other wonders. (production note)

December 28, 2008 Laura Hope-Gill, Sebastian Matthews, and Glenis Redmond dropped in for a lively show featuring their own work, the upcoming WordFest, and Sebastian's new plan for his magazine Rivendell (production note)

As always, more to come ...

Updated 9 September, 2008, and again on 3 February, 2009, with additional shows.

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Now on the Archive ...

Doing Wordplay, which consists, on one level, just of getting together to talk with a poet (or two or three) each Sunday for an hour, has often been a delight, even the high point of the week. And sometimes, when technical problems have whacked the show, it's also been frustrating. We've worked with WPVM's staff and our fellow volunteers at the station to resolve issues as they've come up, though, and things have indeed gotten better; we've upgraded some equipment and figured out workarounds for other issues.

One issue that we couldn't address at the station itself, given the storage capacity and bandwidth it would require, was our need for a permanent archive for past shows. After all, it's not like a reading by, say (just to pick a few whose files I've rounded up in the last few days), Jonathan Williams, Robert Bly, Ken Rumble, or Ross Gay merits attention for just a week.

Thanks to the good folks at Chapel Hill's ibiblio.org, though, we've now got that archive. We don't yet have an index page at ibiblio, but I'll post links here, and work towards creating a directory there down the road.

For now,
January's show featuring Ed Dorn's 1974 Buffalo reading of La Gran Apacheria is available from the new Wordplay Archive:

Ed Dorn, January 13, 2008.

More to come ...

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