A Whole Lot of Thank Yous and Appreciation

It’s been a whirlwind last few days, after a reading in Reading, PA on Thursday, the book launch for Waiting for the Dead to Speak Friday, and a second book launch in Boston on Sunday. This book has put me back in touch with a lot of old friends, and venturing to different cities has allowed me to step into other literary scenes and communities to see and support what they’re doing. It reaffirmed for me that poetry is alive and well, due to the time and energy people are willing to invest in it and in their community spaces. I’ve been thrilled to celebrate poetry with a wide range of friends. Over the last 72 hours, the news cycle has been depressing and disgusting, to the point where I almost didn’t tune into the second presidential debate, even as a politico. But the poetry readings/events have been such a positive contrast. I am so grateful for these types of communities that exist and to everyone who came out to these readings over the last few days.

I also want to note that I will be reading at the KGB Bar in NYC this Wednesday at 7 p.m.

In addition, I want to share some links to various interviews I’ve done over the last few weeks. I meant to share these earlier but had little time between teaching, writing, and readings for the book.

Thanks to The Scranton Times-Tribune/570 for this article. 

Thank you to Erika Funke and WVIA Radio for this interview on ArtScene, which aired a few days ago.

Thank you to E.W. Conundrum for this podcast.

 

 

East Coast Readings and Amiri Baraka’s Passing

On Thursday I had the pleasure of reading at the KGB Bar in New York City for a third time and at the Midtown Scholar Bookstore in Harrisburg the following night, two East Coast readings during the week New Jersey-based poet and Black Arts pioneer Amiri Baraka died.
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I was thinking about both venues a lot this last week and the nature and point of giving poetry readings, in the context of Amiri Baraka’s passing. The KGB Bar, situated in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, has been a staple of the East Coast poetry scene for years. Readings happen nearly every night. My reading was put on my Monique Lewis and her organization At The Inkwell, which gives voice to new and established writes. Monique makes no money for hosting these readings monthly and doing all of the PR, and yet, she does it, as a way to support other writers.

The reading at the Midtown Scholar Bookstore was put on by the Almost Uptown Poetry Cartel, which has been hosting readings for over 15 years. After my feature, I nearly sold out of books! The organizers don’t get paid for hosting a weekly reading series, but they do it again and again, like Monique and At the Inkwell, as a way to support other writes and maintain a community among artists. Beyond the weekly poetry readings, Midtown Scholar Bookstore is an intellectual hub in the middle of a state capital that has flirted with bankruptcy and has a skyrocketing crime rate. Yet, situated downtown is a place where intellectuals, young writers, activists, and even politician meet, a place with walls of books, matched only by The Strand in NYC. All of these people and organization provide community, and that should be what giving poetry readings and hosting readings is all about- community and giving a voice to others.

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On my way to Harrisburg, among the news of the Chris Christie Bridgegate scandal, I learned of Amiri Baraka’s passing. Baraka, a political activist and New Jersey resident, never saw a division between poetry and politics, poetry and education, and poetry and community. A leader of the Black Arts Movement, he helped give rise to a new generation of writers. After getting home from back to back readings, I felt inspired, ready to keep writing, doing readings, and hosting other writers in my community. Let’s take this week to go back to Amiri Baraka’s poetry, to read his past interviews, and remember that people are the foundation of politics and poetry is about community.

I’ll end this post with a video of Baraka from Bill Moyers’ show. This was recorded in 1999. It features some live readings, too. Here’s a link.

Upcoming Readings

It’s a new year, and to kick things off right, I’m doing a few readings this January, one in NYC, and one in Harrisburg.

Here’s is the info:

Wednesday, January 8
7-9 p.m.

KGB Bar, 85 E. 4th Street, New York City

This event is part of the At the Inkwell reading series, and I will be one of four featured readers. Here is a link to the event.

Thursday, January 9
7-9 p.m.

Almost Uptown Poetry Reading

Midtown Scholar Bookstore, 1302 N. Third Street, Harrisburg, PA 17102

This event will include an open mic, and I will be the featured reader.

Furthermore, I recently did an online radio interview wit my publisher, Annmarie Lockhart of Unbound Content. You can listen to that interview here.

KGB Bar Reading

If you’re looking for something to do this week and you’re anywhere near New York City, then you should come by the KGB Bar, located at 85 East 4th Street, and see me read with some other writer friends, including Taylor Polities, Sandee Gertz Umbach, Rich Uhlig, and Pat Florio. The reading is going to be a mix of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction, and the event is free. I read at the KGB Bar last July, and it’s a unique venue that hosts several readings and literary events throughout the week. They also have a fairly large bar and a lot of drink and food specials.

Here is some info about the other readers:

Taylor M. Polites is a novelist living in Providence, Rhode Island with his small Chihuahua, Clovis. Polites’ first novel, The Rebel Wife, was published in February 2012 by Simon & Schuster. He has an MFA in Creative Writing from Wilkes University and BA in History and French from Washington University in St. Louis. In 2009, he was awarded the Norris Church Mailer Fellowship from Wilkes University. He has lived in Provincetown, Massachusetts, New York City, St. Louis and the Deep South. He has covered arts and news for a variety of local newspapers and magazines, including the Cape Codder, InNewsWeekly, Bird’s Eye View (the in-flight magazine of CapeAir), artscope Magazine and Provincetown Arts Magazine.

Richard Uhlig is the author of the Knopf-published novels, Last Dance At The Frosty Queen and Boy Minus Girl.  He is also the screenwriter of the award-winning film Dead Simple, starring James Caan and Patricia Richardson, as well as Kept, starring Ice-T.  He recently wrote, produced and directed the short film comedy Can’t Dance, starring Karen Lynn Gorny.  The film won Founder’s Choice Award at the Queens World Film Festival. Richard lives in New York with his wife and two small children.

Sandee Gertz Umbach is a poet and writer from Western Pennsylvania, currently residing near Pittsburgh.  Her poems have been published in numerous literary journals, including Poet Lore, The Ledge, Gargoyle, and The Green Mountains Review. She has been the recipient of a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts fellowship grant and is a Sandburg-Livesay Award Winner. Her recently released poetry collection, The Pattern Maker’s Daughter, (published by Bottom Dog Press) is set in the industrial steel city of Johnstown,Pennsylvania and reflects coming of age themes with a strong narrative sense of place and landscape.  Geology, geography, weather, and even neuroscience collide as this “Girl Interrupted” speaker tells her stories from the heart of one of America’s colorful working class cities.

Patricia Florio spent 17 years as a certified professional court reporter in Brooklyn’s federal court system when she decided to change careers.  She’s had this constant buzzing muse prompting her to write since she was a teenager.   Her first book “My Two Mothers” was published in August 2011.  She has gotten excellent reviews.(see it on Amazon.com)  She’s married to her husband Ralph for 40 years and they live in the Historic Victorian town of Ocean Grove on the Jersey Shore.  She received her undergrad from Rutgers in Liberal Studies and her M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Wilkes University.

 

Weekend Readings

I have two upcoming readings that I’m especially excited about. One is tonight, at the KGB Bar in New York City, located at 85 East 4th Street. I’ll be sharing the stage with one of my friends from graduate school, Monique Lewis, a writer who runs fiction workshops in the city. We’ll be joined by two other writers, and you can read our bios here.  

I’ve only read in NYC one other time- a few months ago at the Bowery Poetry Club with other members of the Mulberry Poets & Writers Association. That was one of my favorite readings simply because the event already had a built-in audience that already cared a lot about poetry and was attentive. I hope the same will be true for tonight’s reading. Most of all, I’m excited to share poems from Front Man and my nearly completed second manuscript with an unknown audience.

On Sunday, I’m joining local writers Matt Hinton, Mischelle Anthony, and Jennifer Diskin to read at Jack’s Draft House in Scranton for the Second Prose in Pubs. The event starts at  7 pm. There’s a good interview with event organizer, Amye Archer, in the current issue of Electric City. Check it out here.  Prose in Pubs really has the potential to be a strong, long-running series that features writers of various genres showcasing their work in  a really cool venue. What I like about Jack’s is the fact it’s not grimy or dingy like some other Scranton bars. It has a nice, intimate feel, and it makes for a great hang out once the reading concludes.

If you’re in NYC, come to the KGB Bar tonight at 7, and if you’re in Scranton, come to Jack’s Draft House Sunday at 7 to support a new reading series.