Posts Tagged ‘Bloomington Writers Guild’

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.

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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).

This afternoon brought the Bloomington Writers Guild’s last “First Sunday Prose and Open Mic” readings at Bears Place (cf. April 8, et al.) for spring, the series going on summer hiatus for June and July.  There were two featured readers:  novelist and essayist Dennis McCarty, whose latest book, THOUGHTS FROM A GENTLE ATHEIST, is expected to be available on Amazon later this month, read parts of three chapters from his REFLECTIONS:  ON TIME, CULTURE, AND SPIRITS IN AMERICA about Idaho’s Minidoka War Relocation Center and the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II; and mystery novelist and DJ/host of local WFHB radio’s weekly show “All That Jazz” Ray Zdonek read two short chapters from DIANA OF THE DUNES, the latest in his multi-volume Lee Kosac detective series.  Then, following a short break, there were five walk-on readers of which I was first with a holdover from last month, “Che,” originally published in the Summer 2006 BLEEDING QUILL, a flash fiction satire about the George W. Bush administration and how it defeated a terrorist Cuban zombie invasion of the moon.

So after a busy, busy May 1, last night also featured the third “First Wednesday Spoken Word Series” at its new time and venue, at local tavern Bears Place (cf. April 4, March 6).  And it was a stormy night as well, but dinner and poetry helped keep as many as 17 participants dry, including musical interludes by the Kyle Quass Quartet (their final performance accompanied by one of the poets as well).

The featured readers — all poets this time — were multi-published Hiromi Yoshida, a semi-finalist for the 2018 Wilder Series Poetry Book Prize and a winner of Indiana University Writers Conference Awards as well as an active member of the Beat Generation and Daily Haiku Facebook Groups; Indianapolis poet Jason Ammerman with three collections, ALL GROWN UP, MICROPHONE OR BUST, and BATTLE SCARRED, a spoken word album REVIVAL, and more of each in the works; and David L. O’Nan with two poetry and short story books, THE FAMOUS POETRY OUTLAWS ARE PAINTING WALLS AND WHISPERS and ALL OUR FEARS AND TUNNELS, as well as a new poetry and art book project, THE FAVORS OF THE MIND POETRY & ART DIGEST, in the works for later this spring.  These were followed by four walk-on “Open Mic” readers of which I led off with the third in my New Orleans “Casket Girl” series* in which we meet Marie, who has qualms about becoming a vampire, until she is calmed by hearing the tale of an adventure original vampiress Aimée had once had when visiting Rome.

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*For those interested, the original “Casket Girls” first appeared in DAILY SCIENCE FICTION on April 10 2014. A reprinted version (with better renditioning of accented vowels) from ARIEL CHART, February 2 2018, may be read by pressing here.

Sunday brought a new festival of sorts, a “Bloomington Street Fair” in which the Writers Guild, among other groups, had a booth.  I was not a participant myself directly, though I did lend several books to be displayed with other members’ to let the world at large (or at least locally) know of our various publications.  Among others, two favorite anthologies of mine were there, a very respectable-looking, hardbound GOTHIC GHOSTS (Tor Books, 1997) and an almost maniacally enthusiatically designed THE HUNGRY DEAD (Popcorn Press, 2010), the latter with both a story and a poem by me in it.

But speaking of poetry, Sunday afternoon also meant “Last Sunday Poetry Reading and Open Mic” time at the Monroe County Convention Center with, in honor of April as National Poetry Month, a special “Poetry Palooza” all open-mike session which I, having missed last month, did attend.  COME and read your own poems, or read poems written by someone else, talk all things poetry, laugh and listen and meet and greet.  I brought a couple of items there as well, should people wish to read from, say, a RHYSLING ANTHOLOGY, but the turnout was actually on the small size, with eight attending, so chairs were arranged into a circle with all of us reading work in turn.  My selections were both from my VAMPS (A RETROSPECTIVE), the first and last poems in the book, “Blood Portrait” about Max Shreck and the movie NOSFERATU in the first round, then “Chagrin du Vampire” about a vampirized Mina Harker for the second.

The third Sunday this April is Easter Sunday so the Bloomington Writers Guild’s “Third Sunday Write” (see March 17, et al.) had to be scheduled a week early this time.  And while the warm-up exercises could be a bit prosey — a list of things known and that one might like to know, answers to the question “What feeds you?” (which could be poetic), and a descriptive rendering of a favorite place, the final event took on a more poetic flavor.  Poems from three poetry books were read with instructions to note down lines or phrases that seemed to particularly stand out; then write your work incorporating some of these phrases.  Mine, a poem called “Magma,” discussed energy in its various forms, potential, kinetic, but also mental — in imagination — and will it matter?  The ending, another “borrowed” line:  “The gods are never caught.”

Not much will come of this one for me, probably, in terms of work that could lead to a story, but it was fun.  And the end, fun too, was to comment not so much on others’ readings of what they composed, but to also pick out lines and phrases that stood out — an exercise in imagination but also an appreciation of things that can spark it.

A funny thing happened at yesterday’s “First Sunday Prose Reading and Open Mic,” co-sponsored by the Bloomington Writers Guild and local tavern Bear’s Place (cf. March 3, et al.).  We ran out of time.  We had two featured readers, both of whom we’ve met before, Shayne Laughter with a story, “The Long Game,” from a collection in progress of tales about the Greek fertility goddess/Mistress of Hades Persephone plus an earlier story, “Her First Poem,” followed by PDVNCH with a dramatic poem in ten scenes, concerning a woman who rebels against being her true self, opting instead for the images society thrusts on her.  But afterwards, when it was open mike time, with a film showing scheduled after our readings at 5 p.m. sharp, and with seven walk-ons signed up, it was doubtful everyone could be fit in.  Result:  MC Joan Hawkins and I drank the Kool-Ade, as the saying goes, opting to postpone our presentations until May, with (result number two) the reduced list of five ending the program right on time.

And so the the second Bloomington Writers Guild “Spoken Word Series at Bears” occurred last night on its new first Wednesday schedule at local (located, in fact, on Third Street) tavern Bear’s Place.  The featured readings started with parts of a 1968 Chicago-set novel in progress by local author and WFHB radio star Mike Glab; followed by a radio theater dramatization of part of a Robert Heinlein novel, THE SAIL BEYOND SUNSET, by also WFHB community radio host Richard Fish; and Indiana poet Steve Henn (most recent collection:  INDIANA NOBLE SAD MAN OF THE YEAR from Wolfson Press) with a group of personal poems including his 2018 RATTLE Poetry Prize finalist entry “Soccer Dad”; interspersed with poetry-with-music sets by SHAKESPEARE’S MONKEY, who we’ve met before (see September 1 2018, March 10 2017, et al.).  For the “Open Mic” part, I led off a series of five readers noting first that last month’s “Casket Girls” (cf. March 6) was just one of about a dozen flash stories concerning these New Orleanian vampires, so why not continue with their adventures for at least the rest of the year, then segueing into this month’s story, “A St. Valentine’s Day Tale,” about a fatal practical joke played by one of les filles on a loving, but sometimes abusive husband.

A rather dim “starring” actually since I was not one of the featured readers at the Bloomington Writers Guild’s March “Last Sunday Poetry Reading and Open Mic” (cf. February 24, et al.) at the Monroe County Convention Center.  Of those that were, leading off was Alex Chambers who read five poems from his upcoming collection BINDINGS, to be released this summer by by Pickpocket Books, followed by LuAnne Holladay with “a number of pretty short poems” on such subjects as memories, dreams, birds, and prayer.  Then after the break I was second of just three readers this time with a pair of love poems to honor a coming spring (almost here by the end of last week, but shattered by a rainy, cold Saturday with a dusting of snow by Sunday morning; a sunnier but still cold Sunday afternoon), “Love Consummated” and, with a touch of the Frankenstein in it, “Can Monsters Not Love?”




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