Archive for the ‘Writers In Performance Series’ Tag

Walt Whitman’s Birthday Party, May 1, 2008 — Revisited   2 comments

 

Last night the Montgomery County Literary Arts Council held its annual Walt Whitman Birthday Party Celebration. Having been part of the first Writers in Performance series Whitman Celebration, to say I miss not being there would be an understatement. So, I’ve gone back to my archives to share the celebration from ten years ago.

— kenne

Whitman’s Birthday Party Comes Early This Year (May 1, 2008)

What started with only a hand-full of people gathering at Barnes & Nobel bookstore each May 30th to read their favorite Walt Whitman poems and share a birthday cake, has now evolved into notably “the” Whitman birthday party. Yet many in our community who love Whitman’s poetry would not expect the Montgomery campus of Lone Star College and a small group of Parsons disciples, (the Montgomery County Literary Arts Council) to attract a notable list of Whitman experts and Houston area poets to present a symposium/birthday party on Whitman’s work and the man. Therefore, I was not surprised when after receiving information (Walt Whitman, 2008 Panel) sent to a friend on the May 1st event would reply, “. . . I’m impressed! You have people who were

Walt Whitman
Dave Parsons

part of the April 14th PBS American Experience on Walt Whitman — right here in

 Montgomery County, Texas? But then, if you know Dave Parsons, “Why not?”

Dave’s passion for Whitman, and poetry, in general, continue to be the driving force behind this annual event. So, no wonder this year’s party was unquestionably the best. As has been the practice the last few years, the event begins in the afternoon on the Lone Star College campus with a panel presentation and discussion, followed in the evening with the birthday party celebrating his poetry. This year the party took place at Cornelli’s Villa Italia restaurant on the square in Conroe. Continuing the tradition, over twenty published poets, creative writing professors and community literary leaders read their favorite Walt Whitman poems. Additionally, this year Dave arranged for the performance of Whitman’s favorite Opera selections. 

For the first time, to coordinate the event timing with the spring schedule, presenters, and the party location, the party event was moved ahead by almost a month. Although some may question moving the party to Cornelli’s Villa Italia from the Corner Pub, just down the street, all would agree, Walt would be at home at either location.

kenne

(Courier Article — whitmanpartyarticle)

See more photos here.

Billy Collins At The Tucson Festival Of Books, 2018   Leave a comment

One of my favorite living poets is Billy Collins, and no less than the Wall Street Journal has called him “America’s Favorite Poet.” If you were to do a search on this blog, you would find five references to Billy Collins.

This year’s festival is the 10th, and as usual, the two-day event was loaded with many great writers, and when it comes to poets, Collins is worthy of “rock-star” status. Let there were two poets I regret not being able to see and visit with: Sarah Cortez who has been a frequent reader at the annual Walt Whitman and Emily Dickenson birthday celebrations part of the Montgomery County Literary Arts Council “Writers In Performance Series” (One of the blogs I manage but have not updated since leaving Texas in 2010, is Writers In Performance); Juan Felipe Herrera a poet, performance artist and activist. Herrera is the son of migrant farm workers and was the U.S. Poet Laureate from 2015–2017. 

There is so much to do and see at this annual festival, which means there is so much to miss.

— kenne

Billy Collins blogBilly Collins at the Tucson Festival of Books, 2018 — Image by kenne

Billie Collins blogImage by Joy

 

Video — Billy Collins reading about goats fainting at the Tucson Festival of Books (March 10, 2018)

— Video by kenne

Edward Hirsch — “Green Couch”   1 comment

Ed Hirsch & Yard Photos  9008-collage blogEdward Hirsch Reading at Lone Star College – Montgomery, Writers In Performance Series (April, 2010) — Images and Video by kenne


GREEN COUCH

by Edward Hirsch

That was the year I left behind my marriage
of twenty-eight years, my faded philosophy books, and
the green couch I had inherited from my grandmother.

After she died, I drove it across the country
and carried it up three flights of crooked stairs
to a tiny apartment in west Philadelphia,

Ed Hirsch & Yard Photos  9007 sq blogand stored it in my in-laws’ basement in Bethesda,
and left it to molder in our garage in Detroit
(my friend Dennis rescued it for his living room),

and moved it to a second-floor study in Houston
and a fifth-floor apartment on the Upper West Side
where it will now be carted away to the dump.

All my difficult reading took place on that couch,
which was turning back into the color of nature
while I grappled with ethics and the law,

the reasons for Reason, Being and Nothingness,
existential dread and the death of God
(I’m still angry at Him for no longer existing).

That was the year that I finally mourned
for my two dead fathers, my sole marriage,
and the electric green couch of my past.

Darlings, I remember everything.
But now I try to speak the language of
the unconscious and study earth for secrets.

I go back and forth to work.
I walk in the botanical gardens on weekends
and take a narrow green path to the clearing.

Philip Levine — The Voice Of The Voiceless And That’s The Simple Truth   2 comments

WIPPhotosScanned36 Phillip Levain blog art frameSimple TruthPhilip Levine — Image by kenne

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Writers In Performance Series, Mid-1990’s — Images by Nancy Parsons

Voice of the Voiceless

Life,
life is simple,
we make it complicated —
that’s the simple truth.


Today,
I found myself reading
the poems of Philip Levine —
blessed with the gifts
of listening and observing;
enabling him to care,
he has called the
“voice of the voiceless”.

Above all,
Levine is a story-teller
of people decaying
in the spoils of the rich,
speaking directly
from the front lines,
bearing witness to
worker 
revolutions, faded.

By writing about work,
Levine writes about life.
Waiting,
waiting in the work line.
Waiting,
waiting in the assembly line.
Waiting,
waiting for the next task —
not changed from the last.

I, too,
worked an assembly line.
I, too,
bless the imagination
that have given me
myths I live by —
images created by
my visionary power
to bear witness.

I, too,
sing America —
that’s the simple truth.

— kenne

p. s. The other day I was listening to NPR when I heard that Philip Levine added another award to the many this great American poet has received, the American Academy of Poets life-time achievement award (Wallace Stevens Award). Levine, the 2011 U.S. poet laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner for his book, “The Simple Truth” is one of my favorite living poets. It was not long after this book’s publication that we were honored to have Levine read at Long Star College – Montgomery, Writers In Performance Series.

Philip-Levine1

Laureate Philip Levine, Working Class Poet
by Robin Bates

An Abandoned Factory, Detroit

by Philip Levine

The gates are chained, the barbed-wire fencing stands,
An iron authority against the snow,
And this grey monument to common sense
Resists the weather. Fears of idle hands,
Of protest, men in league, and of the slow
Corrosion of their minds, still charge this fence.

Beyond, through broken windows one can see
Where the great presses paused between their strokes
And thus remain, in air suspended, caught
In the sure margin of eternity.
The cast-iron wheels have stopped; one counts the spokes
Which movement blurred, the struts inertia fought,

And estimates the loss of human power,
Experienced and slow, the loss of years,
The gradual decay of dignity.
Men lived within these foundries, hour by hour;
Nothing they forged outlived the rusted gears
Which might have served to grind their eulogy.

 

Body and Soul — A Poem By Rich Levy, Revisited   6 comments

Rich LevyLone Star College – Montgomery Library, Writers In Performance Series. — Images and video by kenne

Rich LevySeptember 17, 2009, poet Rich Levy was the presenter at the first fall 2009 Writers In Performance at Lone Star College – Montgomery. As I had done for about a year, I recorded his reading, which took place in the college library. Levy earned his MFA at the Iowa Writers Workshop and has been the executive director of Inprint, a nonprofit literary arts organization in Houston, Texas, since 1995.

Several of the poem he read were from his 2009 book of poems, “Why Me?” One of the poems that impressed me was titled, “Body and Soul” after Coleman Hawkins’ recording — “. . . the hurling way in which their talk moves, the way his nostrils flare as he tries with an occasional false shyness to avert his glance makes me think of Coleman Hawkins’ 1939 recording of Body and Soul, the one that took the world’s breath away, . . .  “

This is poetry that possesses the feelings that makes Blues and Jazz the most human of all music, therefore existential.

kenne

(I first posted the video September 19, 2009.)

Capturing the Word — Beth Ann Fennelly Revised   Leave a comment

As I often do at each Writers In Performance Series reading, I purchase one of the writer’s books of poetry. It was not different May 4, 1998 when Beth Ann Fennelly was our guest writer. It was an evening I remember well, not  because she was a young attractive women, which could serve to bias one’s impression, but because I loved her poetry and her spoken-word skills.

After the reading, I ask her to sign her book of poetry, A Different Kind of Hunger, in which she was kind enough to write:

For Kenne,

Thanks for your presence here tonight.
The world needs more poetry-loving,
coffee brewing deans.

I hope you enjoy these
poems and share this hunger.

Indeed I have. My biggest regret is that I will not be there to brew the coffee when Beth Ann returns to the Writers In Performance Series this Thursday evening (7:00 p.m. September 16, 2010 at Lone Star College – Montgomery).

After her reading in 1998, Beth Ann went on to receive many awards for her writing and is now a professor at the University of Mississippi.

For this Capturing the Word posting, I have selected “Poem Not to Be Read at Your Wedding,” from A Different King of Hunger

Poem Not To Be Read at Your Wedding

You ask me for a poem about love
in lieu of a wedding present, trying to save me
money. For three nights I’ve lain under
glow-in-the-dark stars I’ve stuck to the ceiling
over my bed. I’ve listened to the songs
of the galaxy. Well Carmen, I would rather
give you your third set of steak knives
than tell you what I know. Let me find you
some other store-bought present. Don’t
make me warn you of stars, how they see us
from that distance as miniature and breakable
from the bride who tops the wedding cake
to the Mary on Pinto dashboards
holding her ripe red heart in her hands.

kenne

Beth Ann Fennelly photo source – Google Images

Capturing the Word — Wendy Barker   1 comment

Images by kenne

Wendy seems like a close friend. We have met only on special occasions. Birthday parties,  Emily Dickinson birthday parties. So often over the years, Wendy is my picture of Emily. Why not? I have photos of Wendy on those special occasions when we shared our appreciation and love for Emily Dickinson’s poetry. As much as I may love poetry, it is the spoken word that really touches me. Only then can I see the poets mannerisms, hear the voice annunciation and feel the emotions of the moment. Wendy came to fill the void through which Emily and I have become friends. Wendy has added color to sepia, she is my muse.

So, it’s no wonder that when Wendy was schedule to read her own poetry at a Writers In Performance Series last December, I could help but feel that Emily Dickinson was coming to read Wendy Barker. Think about it. How wonderful! My muse meets the goddess.

At the December series, Wendy read from her recent novel in prose poems, Nothing Between Us. For this “Capturing the Word” posting, I have chosen to share Wendy’s prose poem, “Sunday Morning, Go for A Drive:”

Up the coast. Or down. Bring the binoculars. Get out of town. Breathe.
Always hungry before we got where we were going. Stinson Beach,
Bolinas, Point Reyes. Greg would want a big meal—two cheeseburgers,
double order of fries, a full pitcher of Bud. I’d want a tuna sandwich,
banana, orange juice. No matter how I’d try to focus the binos,
no matter what rock I scrambled up on, I could never spot the bird I
wanted to see up close. Feathers confused among breaches and twigs.
The wind off the water roughing my hair. And Greg’s voice, breath
smelling of tannic acid, saying hurry it up, time to go.

kenne

Capturing the Word — Paul D. Ruffin   Leave a comment

My next poetry book from my shelves is Circling, by long time supporter and participant in the Writers in Performance Series is teacher, writer, editor and 2009 Texas Poet Laureate, Paul Ruffin. The poem I have selected, “Explaining How Dead Are Different,” literally fail out of the book (page 72) as a result of the weakened binding of my copy of Circling.

Beside the cat-struck bird she lays
the dried shell of a roach, each
with no more life than the concrete
step she has laid them on.
“They are dead,” she says
to me in her careful four-year voice.
I nod and continue with my reading.
She points to a bird angling to land
in the plum tree out from the porch.
“But that one is not.” I nod again.
“Will you explain the difference?”

The bird in the tree is trilling
and preening, from time to time
pecking a plum; below him wasps
buzz about the too-ripe windfalls.
Wind stirs lightly in the feathers
of the dead bird, scoots the hull
of the roach. “Come sit here.”
She hoists herself to my lap
and the uncertain lesson begins.

Last August, Paul’s good friend and Montgomery County Poet Laureate, Dave Parsons read their poetry at a “Good Books In The Woods” event, “Texas Shootout.” The following video contains some of their readings and will give you a taste of Paul’s more recent poems.

kenne

Capturing the Word — A New Series   6 comments

Shadows Before the Sky Darkens– Image by kenne

Visitors to this blog know I share images in the series, “Capturing the Moment.” With this posting, I’m beginning a similar series sharing poetry, specifically from my own writings and from the poets that have appeared in the “Writers in Performance” (WIP) Series conducted by the Montgomery County Literary Arts Council since 1993. It wasn’t till our recent move to Tucson that I realize the number of poetry books I have, a collection for which I’m very proud. So, with this posting I will use my blog to occasionally share the WIP writers’ poetry. Not to show any preference, I just reached to the shelves and pulled down a book. The book selected was Different Hours by Stephen Dunn. Stephen presented at WIP November 1, 2000. Here’s the poem I selected from this book of poetry:

Before The Sky Darkens

Sunsets, incipient storms, the tableaus
of melancholy — maybe these are
the Saturday night-events
to take your best girl to. At least then
there might be moments of vanishing beauty
before the sky darkens,
and the expectation of happiness
would hardly exist
and therefore might be possible.

More and more you learn to live
with the unacceptable.
You sense the ever-hidden God
retreating even farther,
terrified or embarrassed.
You might as well be a clown,
big silly cloths, not evidence of desire.

That’s how you feel, say, on a Tuesday.
Then out of the daily wreckage
comes an invitation
with your name on it. Or more likely,
that best girl of yours offers you,
once again, a small local kindness.

You open your windows to good air
blowing in from who knows where,
which you gulp and deeply inhale
as if you have a death sentence. You have.
All your life, it seems, you’ve been appealing it.
Night sweats and useless stratagem. Reprieves.

— Stephen Dunn

Culture Comes To Conroe, Again   Leave a comment

Writers In Performance Series – Image by kenne

In his book, The Demon and The Angel, Edward Hirsch wrote of Federico Garcia Lorca believing that when the duende (the mysterious power of creativity that results in a work of art)) is present in poetry, the poet can be sure of being loved and understood. The duende was diffidently present last Thursday when Hirsch read from his latest publication, The Living Fire: New and Selected Poems. The reading was followed by a Q & A session.  For Hirsch, life, and therefore his poetry, is all about relationships:

Tonight when I knelt down next to our cat, Zooey,
And put my fingers into her clean cat’s mouth,
And rubbed her swollen belly that will never know kittens,
And watched her wriggle onto her side, pawing the air,
And listened to her solemn little squeals of delight,
I was thinking about the poet, Christopher Smart,
Who wanted to kneel down and pray without ceasing
In everyone of the splintered London streets,

— from “Wild Gratitude”

kenne

Kenne Turner, Edward Hirsch & Dave Parsons – Seventeen Years Out

Texas Poetry Shoot-Out   1 comment

Texas Poetry Shoot-out Framed blog

When one thinks of a “shoot-out”, one may assume a gunfight between armed groups; or a “High Noon” gunfight between the good guy and the bad guy – a duel.  What if the dual doesn’t involve guns, but rather a clash of skills like in, Dueling Banjos or a debate – a duel of words? You would think a “poetry shoot-out” would be a duel of words, which it could be, like in “The Dueling Poets” on the web. Although the concept might be one Good Books In The Woods may want to showcase in the future, this shoot-out was more to showcase the poetry of two friends (Paul Ruffin and Dave Parsons), each a poet laureate, each from Montgomery County.

Regardless of the format, when Dave and Paul read together, it can be a memorable evening, and this evening was not exception. (See photo set.)

kenne

(The viewer may want to chick on the YouTube logo to watch it on the YouTube site.)

Walt Whitman — Party Time Again!   Leave a comment

kenne-caricature-ii-blogThe more studious me is here to tell you it is birthday party time for America’s greatest poet, Walt Whitman. This year’s event will be Saturday, May the 9th. Click here to go to the Writers In Performance blog for more information.

kenne

Posted May 6, 2009 by kenneturner in MCLAC, Poetry

Tagged with , ,

W. D. Snodgrass, R.I.P.   Leave a comment

A great American poet, W. D. Snodgrass passed away this past week. Read my posting on the Montgomery County Literary Arts Council blog.

kenne

Posted February 22, 2009 by kenneturner in MCLAC, Poetry

Tagged with ,

Emily Dickinson Birthday Celebration   1 comment

emily-mirror-ii-web1

HEAR! HEAR! IT’S THAT TIME OF YEAR!

Enigma, mystery, paradox are just a few of the frequently used words in describing Emily Dickinson.  In the 122 years since her death, scholars, students and fans continue to analyze both the person and her poetry.  To help in this endeavor, the Montgomery County Literary Arts Council continues its annual panel discussion and birthday party.  This year’s dual event will be December 4th.  Click here to learn more.

kenne

Posted November 29, 2008 by kenneturner in Information, Poetry

Tagged with , ,

%d bloggers like this: