Posts Tagged ‘Bloomington Writers Guild’

A new month and tonight a new Bloomington Writers Guild “First Wednesday Spoken Word Series” (cf. August 7, et al.), co-sponsored by local Bear’s Place tavern, was heavy on poetry.  The featured guests, in fact, were four members of Bloomington’s “Five Women Poets” writing group, Antonia Matthews (who we’ve met before, including with last month’s “Home Front” audio drama, cf. August 10) with an “assisted” (i.e. a portion of the “plus one”?) dialog poem on “Flip Flops at the White House,” but with more serious work as well; Anya Peterson Royce with poems on dancers, anthropology, Ireland, and other topics; Leah Helen May with memories of childhood and toads, locusts, seasons, and old age; and Margaret Fisher Squires on dragons, remodeling, psychology, and Biblical ruminations.  This was followed by a not quite feature, not quite walk-on (the rest of “plus one”?) on a sort of Writers Guild inside joke with Chairperson Joan Hawkins reading names of colors of black with commentary by Antonia Matthews.  So — okay — you had to be there.

Musical interludes were by Travis Puntarelli.  Then at real “Open Mic” time there were only three takers this outing, with me first with another “casket girls” tale, “A Surfeit of Poe,” about poetess Yvonne’s having met Baudelaire and bringing back a copy of his first volume of translations of Edgar Allen Poe.  But the question was, did Poe ever write any tales about vampires?

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No, no, not the time, but I’d mentioned in my August 16 post that “I have my eye on one piece from THE TEARS OF ISIS that I don’t believe I’ve read before, but I need to go through it to make sure it isn’t overly ‘family unfriendly’ in terms of language.  And that said, I’ll probably need to choose a shorter piece too, or perhaps some poems, to round out my half hour.”  So a slight change of mind when I later did my timed reading rehearsals and, yesterday at 2 p.m., I read instead a tale originally published in THE STRAND MAGAZINE and reprinted in my second collection, DARKER LOVES, called “The Great Man.”  It neatly fit the time frame by itself and, set in post-Revolution France, contained lots of fun facts about guillotines for an audience of perhaps about a dozen people.

Other than that, Saturday’s weather for the opening day of Bloomington’s annual Labor Day weekend “Fourth Street Festival of the Arts and Crafts” (see also September 1, August 27 2018, et al.) was not as hot as in recent past years, but comfortable and somewhat cloudy, almost at times a little gloomy.  It also shared time with several other celebrations, notably the Saturday-only Bloomington PRIDEFest just one block north on Kirkwood Avenue.  Plenty of space for all, however, and sun and a bit more warmth this afternoon, Sunday, as the fair and its Bloomington Writers Guild sponsored “Spoken Word Stage” wind down to another year’s completion.

Writers Guild at Bloomington tagged you in the description of Writers Guild Spoken Word Stage was the email message header; the content the schedule of readings for this year’s Writers Guild Spoken Word Stage at the annual “Fourth Street Festival of the Arts and Crafts” (see September 1, August 27 2018, et al.) on Labor Day Weekend or, more precisely, August 31 and September 1.  I’m up for “Horror Fiction” on the Saturday, the 31st, in a prime time spot at 2 p.m., sandwiched between a half hour of audio theater and a poetry reading.  But what shall I read, that is the question — I have my eye on one piece from THE TEARS OF ISIS that I don’t believe I’ve read before, but I need to go through it to make sure it isn’t overly “family unfriendly” in terms of language.  And that said, I’ll probably need to choose a shorter piece too, or perhaps some poems, to round out my half hour.

So I’ll try to update in a week or so when I’ve made my decision and done some timings — with also perhaps a schedule then of other readers, allowing a little time for late adjustments.  But circle the dates, the Arts Fair is always fun and this year it’s Saturday and Sunday, the 31st and 1st, on Bloomington’s 4th Street with the Writers Guild’s booth and stage just around the corner to the south on Dunn Street.

It seems programs for Saturday’s HOME FRONT performance ran short, so Director Tony Brewer emailed an image yesterday to those of us who, being on stage, may have missed seeing one.  So for those interested, why not reproduce it here as well*?

(*And in stereo too — you can read it with both eyes!)

First Sunday Prose, which normally would have been on the 4th, was deferred this month as it will be as well in September, the latter because it would coincide with Bloomington’s annual 4th Street Arts Fair and the Writers Guild “Spoken Word” readings there.  This month, however, was a special case which culminated this Saturday afternoon, a presentation in cooperation with the Monroe County Library of Guild member Antonia Matthews’s play, HOME FRONT (cf. May 6 2018), based on her childhood in World War II London.  As announced in the local Bloomington Herald-Times:  The Writers Guild presents a full radio theater production of this show, based on letters the Bloonmington playwright Antonia Matthews exchanged with her father during World War II, along with her narration.  At the Monroe County Library Auditorium from 2 to about 3:30 p.m., it played to a fairly full house despite competing with “Adorable Adoptables” in the Library lobby, a visit by adoptable kittens and puppies from the Bloomington Animal Shelter.

Produced by Writers Guild officers Joan Hawkins and Tony Brewer and directed by Brewer, the actors (including Joan Hawkins in the role of the adult Antonia) came from the ranks of Writers Guild members and friends, including (*ahem*) me in one of the smallest parts — or actually two parts, those of the British Undersecretary of State for War and the Secretary of State for War (yes, a rather rapid promotion I would say), which combined totaled exactly two paragraphs of dialogue (well, technically monologue, the reading of official documents).  Be that as it may the production seemed to go over well, several people afterward saying it was particularly moving, and, from my bit player’s perspective, was a proud moment to have been a part of.  I understand, too, that it has been televised by the Library’s CATS TV and so may turn up on the local programming channel.

Came the 7th, the first Wednesday in August, and with it the Bloomington Writers Guild “First Wednesday Spoken Word Series” (cf. July 3, et al.), co-sponsored by local Bear’s Place tavern, with music provided by “experimental/mod classical” group ORTET.  The featured guests were Michael Dauro with excerpts from his speculative epic-in-progress spaghetti western inspired SIERRA AMNEZIA (hero:  “The Woman With No Name”); Rachel Ronquillo Gray who, “evoking her muse,” read poems on the theme of girls, girlhood, what it means to be a good girl, and what happens when good girls stop being good; and Indiana University’s Dr. Jen Maher with a wonderfully funny essay on the connections between infertility and recreational shoplifting.  Then at “Open Mic” time I came seventh of a perhaps record thirteen readers with part two of my “casket girls” story “A Moment in Time,” of the vampiress Lo and, as we found out, who the “nice sailor man” Mel really was who she’d met in New Bedford Massachusetts in late 1840.

Walt who?  You know, the American poet and possible father of modern poetry, that Walt Whitman, who, born on May 31 1819, is celebrating in absentia a slightly late 200th birthday this summer and autumn.  As for the picnic, that’s a Bloomington Writers Guild summer tradition (see July 22 2018, et al.), a relaxed potluck lunch with perhaps some readings — as well as a reminder that, with a resumed “First Sunday Prose” at the start of August (August 4, I believe, but I don’t have a calendar with me, followed only three days later by another “Spoken Word Wednesday at Bears Place” reading), plus the Spoken Word On Stage extravaganza at the Labor Day Weekendish, early September Bloomington Arts Fair, a busy fall season is not far ahead.

But as for Walt Whitman?  Well, after the eating part of the picnic came a mike-less “open mic” session, featuring a crowd somewhat smaller than usual possibly due to *very* hot weather (heat index, I think, in the low 100s though threatening thunderstorms which did not come) plus area road construction making the site somewhat hard to get to.  Part of the idea was to read bits of Whitman’s work should the spirit so move, which was taken up on by four or five people (I not among them as, by sheer coincidence, a short piece from SONG OF MYSELF that I’d brought with me proved also to have been chosen by another), along with some discussion of the poet’s life which I did join in briefly.  Then two or three people followed with bits of their own or others’ work, for which I had also brought a short poem but, seeing the drift of most present, kept in my pocket in favor of just leaning back and listening to what others offered.

In short a pleasant but lazy, if sweaty, Sunday afternoon shared among writer friends.

On 4th of July Eve, the Writers Guild “First Wednesday Spoken Word Series” (cf. June 5, et al.) was heavy on poets at local tavern Bears Place.  The musical guests were Hoosier Darling (a.k.a. WFHB GoZpul GurlZ), while the featured readers were Shana Ritter with an excerpt from her novel IN TIME OF LEAVING plus poems from her chapbook STAIRS OF SEPARATION, John James with poetry from his book THE MILK HOURS and elsewhere, and local poet Ross Gay with, as a change of pace, a selection of essays from his collection THE BOOK OF DELIGHTS.  Then when it was “Open Mic” time, my series of “casket girls” tales came in fifth place out of eight with the only one long enough to need to be divided into two parts, “A Moment in Time” (Part 1), in which we met New Orleanian vampiress Charlotte, a.k.a. Lo, and a half-remembered conversation with a “nice sailor man” in New Bedford, Massachusetts in 1840.  But to find out more, we must wait until next “first Wednesday” on August 7.

Ah, June!  And with Wednesday evening it was time again for the Bloomington Writers Guild “First Wednesday Spoken Word Series” at Bears Place (cf. May 2, et al.).  The musical guests were the VLF (drummer John Valdez, bass Park Law, and guitarist and sometime voice Jason Fickel) Trio, sharing the stage with poetry by Tim Heerdink, author of RED FLAG AND OTHER POEMS plus another collection, THE HUMAN REMAINS, and first novel LAST LIGHTS OF A DYING SUN due in the near future; creative nonfiction (and sometimes mixed with a little fiction too) from Juliana Crespo with work in or forthcoming in a number of literary journals; and more poetry from local Bears Place server Brian Boucher, with a novella, “Wahoo,” serialized in THE RYDER Magazine plus poetry book ARROGANT ENLIGHTENMENT AND A CRY FOR PURPOSE on Instagram.  Then we, the walk-ons came with, in fifth place out of seven, new fille à la caissette Yvonne making her debut in a brief, 1830s-set New Orleanian tale of blood and absinthe, “The Darkness, Forgotten.”

Or, as one might say, the last “Last Sunday Poetry Reading & Open Mic” of the current season, the series going on summer hiatus for June through August.  Presented by the Writers Guild at Bloomington in collusion with The Monroe County Convention Center, there were two featured poets this wonderfully warm end-of-May afternoon:  the first, Nancy Chen Long, author of LIGHT INTO BODIES along with a chapbook CLOUDS AS INKBLOTS FOR THE WAR PRONE, both of which were available at the reading, read six poems from her latest project, WIDER THAN THE SKY, about memory and the actions of the brain; this then followed by Writers Guild regular Eric Rensberger reading from the most recent “sequence” — a chronological grouping of fifty to sixty poems — from his ongoing internet collection ACCOUNT OF MY DAYS.  Then after the snack break a larger than usual group of seven poets offered their work, of which I was sixth with three summer (or at least with summer mentioned in them) poems, “Dust to Dust” about a fire in a cemetery, “Summer Cancellations” concerning seasonal ways to die, and the vampirically-tinged “The Esthete,” the last of which also appears in my own VAMPS (A RETROSPECTIVE).




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