Wednesday, June 26, 2019

The Sound of Flutes ...

...does go way back, as I began to discover (with the rest of the world) over a decade ago. Live Science posted an article in May of 2012 citing the discovery of several 40,000-year-old bone flutes from the Swabian caves system in southern Germany; this discovery is not even controversial, given that those who crafted the flutes were likely early modern humans, rather than Neanderthals. Music has been with us for much longer than 40,000 years, I'm sure; it's a fundamental part of our human journey.

(First post in a long time, yes, and posts may continue to be rare in this era of social media. We'll see!)

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Sunday, July 14, 2013

Wordplay Today ... and the Altamont Tomorrow Night

Wordplay last Sunday featured great readings by poets Gyorgyi Voros and Katherine Soniat. It's still available from the program page, or at

Today's show brings Lee Ann Brown and L. Lamar Wilson to the airwaves. They'll also be reading at the Altamont, 18 Church Steet, tomorrow, Monday evening, July 15th. Doors open at 7:00, and the reading starts at 7:30.

Lee Ann was born in Japan, grew up in Charlotte, and now lives in New York City and Marshall, NC. She's the author of Polyverse, The Sleep That Changed Everything, and In the Laurels, Caught. Her new collection, Crowns of Charlotte, celebrates the city of her rearing and some of the characters it brought into her world.

L. Lamar Wilson's Sacrelegion, just out from Carolina Wren Press, is a stunning reinvention of the memoir poem. Lee Ann says that it "chants new songlines of the sacred and profane, radiating legions of regions we must all negotiate together. Love, life, identity and language wrestle and riff here with pure expressive power." He's currently pursuing a doctorate in African-American studies at UNC Chapel Hill.
Tune in at 5:00 on

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Monday, January 09, 2012

So Far: The Catalog of the Wordplay Archive

Wordplay in in the midst of its seventh season. The program airs at AshevilleFM at 5:00 PM on Sundays. 

A few new shows are now up, others will be going up shortly - especially if I can recruit an intern who'd like to learn a little something about audio editing and using an FTP client.  

I'll also be uploading some older shows that never found their way through the clouds to ibiblio, home of the Wordplay Archive. Most of 2008's and 2009's shows are now up, and many of 2007's, but there are raw recordings of many from 2006 as well, and a few from 2005, so I'll edit those into podcasts as time allows.

As of now, the shows below are available in the Archive; the shows' dates
serve as the links to the recordings.


(Note: 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 note, though, will also contain the original link to the program on the station's server; shows stayed on that server for only two weeks, so those links have long since been broken.)

Enjoy, and thanks for listening.


November 13, 2005 Stephanie Biziewski, one of the original Wordplay team, invited Cathy Smith Bowers in for a show in the very first season of Wordplay; Gillian Coats and Lori Horvitz engineered and produced, respectively (production note).


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


January 28, 2007 Sebastian Matthews, Laura Hope-Gill and I were co-hosting the show, and we invited Cathy Smith Bowers back a little over a year after her first appearance.

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 poet 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.

September 2, 2007 featured Thomas Rain Crowe, and includes recordings of Crowe with his band, The Boatrockers.

September 9, 2007 featured poet Joanna Cooper.

September 16, 2007 featured a reading by Glenis Redmond at the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center.

September 23, 2007 brought Steve Godwin into the studio, and Steve, Sebastian and I talked over poems we enjoyed, from recent work by Van Jordan (Sebastian) to an HD piece from 1921 (me). Music included tracks from Neil Young and Steve Kimock.

September 30, 2007 highlighted the work of poet Audrey Hope Rinehart.

October 14, 2007 featured Gary Hawkins.

October 21, 2007 found then-Marshall poet Rose McLarney in the studio for her annual near-birthday reading of new work.

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

November 4, 2007 featured Buffalo poet Jessica Smith (production note).

November 11, 2007 featured recordings of William Matthews.


November 18, 2007 featured Robert Morgan (production note), author of Gap Creek, Boone, and Terroir, among many other prose and poetry titles.

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), another Black Mountain College poet, author of the classic Gunslinger and Recollections of Gran Apacheria, among other titles.

January 20, 2008 featured Katherine Min, author of Secondhand World.

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 the great 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  - and, now, 2012, also Requiem by Fire.

June 15, 2008 featured archival recordings of poet Robert Creeley, including some recorded at Black Mountain College, where he taught with Charles Olson. 

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 writer Chall Gray, now proprietor of the Magnetic Field performance space.

July 20, 2008 featured Jeffery Beam (production note).

August 3, 2008 featured Ken Rumble (production note).

August 10, 2008 Columbia, S.C., novelist Janna 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 ever been played at WPVM (now MAIN-FM) or AshevilleFM . 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 poet Thomas Meyer (production note).

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

September 28, 2008 Sebastian Matthews again hosted.

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

October 12, 2008 Poet 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 Brown 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 Robert 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).


January 11, 2009 Tim Peeler surprised me by bringing the one-of-a-kind mythogeographer Ted Pope along, and we had a hoot talking about ancient Egypt, Antarctica, and baseball (production note).

February 15, 2009 featured Jargonaut Thomas Meyer reading his elegy for Jonathan Williams, part of which has now been published as Kintsugi (production note).

March 1, 2009 Asheville novelist Wayne Caldwell returned to share parts of Cataloochee and his then unpublished new novel, Requiem By Fire, which Random House brought out in February, 2010.

March 8, 2009 Hendersonville storyteller Karen Eve Bayne graced the show with her stories and stories about her stories, and made a pitch, too, for the Do Tell Festival of poetry and stories held on July 11th, 2009, in Hendersonville.

March 22, 2009 featured Hickory poet Scott Owens.

March 29, 2009 New Hampshire poet Mimi White, down south to fly-fish in the Davidson River, dropped by the studio to share her work, and to talk about poets, dogs, and other complex life forms.

April 5, 2009 Landon Godfrey, Gary Hawkins, Steve Samuels and I all weighed into a discussion of "nature" and what that term might mean for poetry, and read some "nature" poems by poets from Wordsworth to Frank O'Hara.

April 19, 2009, our Easter show, featured a reading by the late Sage of Scaly Mountain, Jonathan Williams, from 1981 (production note).

April 26, 2009 Performance poet Patricia Smith visited the studio to discuss her work with Glenis Redmond, Sebastian Matthews, and me, just a few hours before her reading at Wordfest 2008 (production note).

May 17, 2009 The last show for Wordplay at its old home featured great Canadian/New American poet Robin Blaser reading in 1965 and 2004, and discussing his work in a BBC interview from 1994 (production note).

September 27, 2009 brought the very literate (she cringes a bit when so described, but only a very literate chanteuse could title a song "Mary Shelly's Hair") singer-songwriter Angela Faye Martin to the studio at AshevilleFM, Wordplay's new home, to debut her new CD, Pictures From Home, produced by Sparklehorse's Mark Linkous, who died this past March. We listened to some of the CD, and Angela also sang live in the studio.

October 18, 2009 A few weeks later poet/microfictionalsit/playwright John Crutchfield visited the studio, and brought his banjo to boot. His Songs of Robert had just been selected as "Outstanding Solo Show" at the New York Fringe Festival, and he was in high spirits.

He's since had several new productions  open at the new Magnetic Field performance space in Asheville's River Arts District, including Ruth and The Labyrinth. A new play, Solstice, opens this month (January, 2012).

(Here's his previous Wordplay appearance from February, 2007. )

November 15, 2009 brought Tryon poet Cathy Smith Bowers, long-time Poet-in-Residence at Queens University in Charlotte, into the studio to celebrate her birthday. We listened to George Jones, Nina Simone, and Leonard Cohen, and she read from her most recent volume, The Candle I Hold Up to See You.

A few months later, of course, she became North Carolina's Poet Laureate, and then co-hosted Wordplay once a month from February, 2010, through February, 2011.


January 10, 2010 featured Lucy Tobin, who explores a middle ground between lyric and narrative in her very interesting work. Music by Allison Kraus, the Mountain Goats, and Heretic Pride.

January 3, 2010 celebrated the publication of Thomas Rain Crowe's Blue Rose of Venice. The archiving system dropped part of the show, but what survived is worth a listen. Caleb Beissert sat in, and shared his translations of Neruda. An earlier note on the show is below, here.

January 17, 2010 brought Graham Hackett, director of Catalyst Poetix, into the studios for an interview and extraordinary performance. Really, if he was reading from anything, it must have been glued to the back of his eyelids. After serving as Acting Director of the Asheville Area Arts Council in 2011, Graham is now back with Catalyst Poetics.

February 21, 2010 Cathy Smith Bowers launched the Laureate's Radio Hour series by talking about the impact the laureateship had already had on her life, and discussing her intentions and hopes for the duration of her tenure - including featuring poets once a month on Wordplay. Musical cuts by Nina Simone and her daughter, Lisa Simone.

March 21, 2010, Cathy Smith Bowers, co-hosting once again for the Laureate's Radio Hour, welcomed her former student Stephanie Biziewski to the show, and work-shopped a poem Stephanie had underway with her.

April 18, 2010 Cathy welcomed the very versatile Michael Beadle to the show, and he read texts that ranged in voice from the personal/lyrical, through the historical, to the performative.

May 29, 2010 This time around the laureate turned the tables on the host, and wrangled me into reading some of my own work, poems from Natures and some mostly unpublished pieces (so far) I plan to include in a second book. In a fit of what must have been borderline insanity, I even threw in a few very recent pieces that prove conclusively that a sixty-five year old man can still write idiotic, jejune love poetry. Music from Pierre Bensusan, the Grateful Dead, the Allman Brothers, and the Steve Kimock Band.

July 18, 2010 For this Laureate's Radio Hour, Cathy hosted poet Katherine Soniat, author of Alluvial, A Shared Life, Notes of Departure, and other titles, including the The Swing Girl, published in 2011 by the LSU Press.

July 25, 2010 The summer brought poet Landon Godfrey to the microphone to share some of her work, including some of the poems which would be gathered in her first book, Second-Skin Rhinestone-Spangled Nude Soufflé Chiffon Gown, published early 2011. It was selected by David St. John for the Cider Press book award.

Listeners may remember that Landon's been on Wordplay several times before, back on July 6, 2008, and, with Gary Hawkins, her husband and fellow poet, on January 27, 2008, and April 5, 2009. Here's the original program note for the July '08 appearance (remember the link to the program in that note has long since expired). And she can come back any time!

August 22, 2010 Sebastian Matthews joined Cathy and me to share some of the work of his father, the poet William Matthews, and to treat us to some of his own new poems. Musical breaks by Charlie Mingus, Bill Evans, and McCoy Tyner. Another Laureate's Radio Hour.

September 19, 2010 brought a couple of Wordplay veterans, Thomas Rain Crowe and Nan Watkins, back to AshevilleFM as guests of Poet Laureate Cathy Smith Bowers, for another of her Laureate's Radio Hours. Cathy particularly wanted to celebrate their translation of Yvan and Claire Goll's 10,000 Dawns on this outing, and Crowe and Watkins were happy to oblige. Music included tracks by Paris' Swing-Era guitar masters Oscar Aleman and Django Rinehardt, and composers Maurice Ravel and Claude Debussy

Crowe, an old friend, has been a frequent character here at Natures. Program Notes for two of his appearances on Wordplay can be found here (noting his show this January) and here (celebrating his Rare Birds).

Notes on Watkins' previous appearances, both featuring her work translating the poetry of Yvan Goll, can be found here and here.

September 26, 2010 This summer brought novelist Sujatha Hampton to the mountains for readings at Marshall's French Broad Institute and Asheville's Malaprops Bookstore from her As It Was Written. The day after her Malaprops reading, Sujatha visited AshevilleFM for an interview that featured not only discussion of the book, but how she came to write it, and much more.

October 17, 2010 featured Western North Carolina poet Jeannette Cabanis-Brewin on a Laureate's Radio Hour.

November 21, 2010 had Cathy interviewing Charlotte writer Jim McGavran about his lovely deeply-felt memoir In the Shadow of the Bear for one of her Laureate's Radio Hours.

December 19, 2010 brought poet Susan Lefler to the studio for a preview of her upcoming book, Rendering the Bones, since published by Wind Publications. Another Laureate's Radio Hour.

January 16, 2011 - Eastern NC poet/musician Jim Clark made the trek to the mountains to join Cathy and me in the studio for a celebration of his CD "The Service of Song." This lovely CD provides Clark's musical settings of poems by Appalachian poet Byron Herbert Reece, "the bard of the North Georgia mountains," who died in 1958 at age 40. We listened to several cuts from the disc, and some tracks, as well, from one of Jim's other CDs, "The Buried Land." You'll find links to some mp3s from both over at Clark's website. A Laureate's Radio Hour.

February 13, 2011 - Our scheduled guest came down with the flu, so this Sunday found Cathy and me alone in the studio for what would prove to be our last show together. Since it was the day before Valentines Day, we talked, not about love poetry, but about poetry that we loved, poetry that had made us want to join the ranks of poets ourselves. You'll hear us read from the work of, and discuss, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Randall Jarrell, Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Creeley, Sylvia Plath, and Gary Snyder, with musical interludes by The Beatles. John Coltrane, Leonard Cohen, and the Grateful Dead. It's quite the mix! The final Laureate's Radio Hour.

And, as always, more to come ...

Friday, September 16, 2011

Asheville poets join 100,000 Poets for Change

Saturday a week, the 24th of September, a good group of poets will gather at Grateful Steps to raise their voices and read poems for the international poetry initiative 100,000 Poets for Change.

 (Click on the image for a readable version)

100,000 Poets for Change has certainly engaged a host of North Carolina poets, as the linked post notes, including former Poet Laureate Katherine Stripling Byer, Joseph Bathanti, Kathryn Kirkpatrick, Richard Krawiec, Dorianne Laux, Gail Peck, Chris Vitiello, Beth Browne, Valerie Nieman, Debra Kaufman, Tim Peeler, Scott Owen, and a host of others. All of them will be reading and performing other acts of poetry in places that span the state, from Wilmington to Sylva, and include venues in Charlotte, Durham, Greensboro, Hickory, Hillsborough, and Boone.

The Asheville event should be a fine occasion, so, if you're in these mountains, do put it on your calendar. And if you're not ... well, there's probably an event near you.

Big Doings in little Sylva

Coming up on September 23rd, quite a gathering of writers, among them Charles Frazier, Wayne Caldwell, Thomas Rain Crowe, Keith Flynn  ...

(You'll need to click twice to get a readable image,  once to open the image in a separate tab - or window, depending on how your browser's configured - and then again to enlarge it.)

Some of these folks (Frazier, for example) rarely make public appearances locally, so it'll be  a bit of a special night.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Wordplay: A new show with Rick Chess

A good show with UNCA's Rick Chess this past Sunday. We got a bit into his investigations into the Kabbalah, and he read for the first time some of the poems that had come out of that work, remarkable compressed pieces of real intensity, as well as poems written in more expansive modes. Claire Burson's lovely CD Silver and Ash provided our musical interludes. It's still on the station archive, accessible from the Wordplay Program page.

Rick also invited me to talk a bit about the class I'll be doing (hopefully) this summer for the Great Smokies Writing Program offered by UNCA. The class will work with procedures as part of the arsenal of tricks poets have available to them, and my real hope is that we'll use those procedures - some developed by Black Mountain poet Jonathan Williams, others by the members of the French Oulipo workshop - to get to the heart beyond the head. Lee Ann Brown tells a good story about a discussion she had with Rosmarie Waldrop, one of the foremost American procedural poets, who was at the time working with text cut out of articles from the New York Times. "You know," Waldrop said, "I may be working with cutout text, but I'm still writing about my mother." Whatever strategies we use, we'll be using them likewise to write about things that matter deeply to us, even if we do have some fun with language along the way.

If you're interested in exploring this territory - and I think you'll find it a fascinating trip, wherever you're coming from - please check out the Great Smokies site for more information, applications, and the like.

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Friday, May 06, 2011

Three poets tonight!

Wordfest is underway in Asheville, so souls who crave poetry have many options for the next few days. A note from the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center reminds me an event not part of Wordfest is among those options for today. Tonight at 8:00, North Carolina Poet Laureate Cathy Smith Bowers, Barbara Kremen, and Carole Boston Weatherford will be reading at the Center; notwithstanding the other fine possibilities for the evening, that's where I'll be. Hope to see you there.

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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Coming up this Sunday ...

(Well, I ought to do at least one post this month. Clearly, my current focus on writing otherwise has cut into the time I'm able to spend here. One of these days I'll be back - or find at least some middle territory between the near-silent now and the much more steady posting of yesteryear. In the meantime, there's this:)

Claire, Steve and I have been developing and rehearsing new material for much of the last month. Part of the text I've come up with is derived from the old Latin poem "Pervigilium Veneris," which I've loved for years. Though it seems to have been written quite late, during the era in which Rome had become largely Christian, at least officially, it feels like a real survivor from the happier pagan era. It's certainly a very proper celebration of Our Lady of Love!

Of course, I've added some new sections to it, one on bonobos and another on dopamine and the other fine neurotransmitters and hormones that do such a fine job of shaping our human experience of love ... or is that "love?"

As the poster says, we''ll be getting underway at 6:00 pm in downtown Marshall, at the French Broad Institute.

Hope to see you there!

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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Bob Herbert says goodbye

to the NY Times with one of his best columns.

Overwhelming imbalances in wealth and income inevitably result in enormous imbalances of political power. So the corporations and the very wealthy continue to do well. The employment crisis never gets addressed. The wars never end. And nation-building never gets a foothold here at home.

New ideas and new leadership have seldom been more urgently needed.

Amen to that.


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Last roundup for the Laureate's Radio Hour

The final shows (for now, at least) of the Laureate's Radio Hour are now up on the ibiblio archive.

January 16, 2011 - Eastern NC poet/musician Jim Clark made the trek to the mountains to join Cathy and me in the studio for a celebration of his CD "The Service of Song." This lovely CD provides Clark's musical settings of poems by Appalachian poet Byron Herbert Reece, "the bard of the North Georgia mountains," who died in 1958 at age 40. We listened to several cuts from the disc, and some tracks, as well, from one of Jim's other CDs, "The Buried Land." You'll find links to some mp3s from both over at Clark's website.

February 13, 2011 - Our scheduled guest came down with the flu, so this Sunday found Cathy and me alone in the studio for what would prove to be our last show together. Since it was the day before Valentines Day, we talked, not about love poetry, but about the love of poetry, about poetry that we loved, poetry that had made us want to join the ranks of poets ourselves. You'll hear us read from the work of, and discuss, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Randall Jarrell, Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Creeley, Sylvia Plath, and Gary Snyder, with musical interludes by The Beatles, John Coltrane, Leonard Cohen, and The Grateful Dead. As you might gather, it's quite the mix!

A special thanks to all our guests over the past year, and apologies to the poets whom we didn't get to shine a light on (to use one of Cathy's favorite phrases) - and special thanks, indeed, to Cathy Smith Bowers for a year of fine radio. I wish Cathy all the best as she continues to serve the people of North Carolina, with extraordinary dedication, as Poet Laureate.

That's all for now. And thanks, as always, for listening.

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