Friday, November 30, 2007

This week, too

Robert Morgan's interview about his biography of Daniel Boone is available as either stream or podcast at WPVM.

(Inertia of Thanksgiving and all ...)

This coming Sunday, former co-host Laura Hope-Gill joins Sebastian and me to talk once again about poetry - and about WordFest (parts of the site are still under construction), the poetry festival that will unfold in Asheville next April. I hope you'll join us.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

This week: Robert Morgan

A little over a week ago, poet and novelist Robert Morgan made a visit home, and gave a few readings while he was here. After his reading at Malaprops, we walked over to the station and talked about his new biography, Boone. The book takes as one of its tasks the liberation of Daniel Boone from the two century deep accretions of folklore and media-made myth which have come to surround him, and in our interview you'll hear that Morgan has indeed gone to work pulled back as many veils as could be pulled from the real woodsman.

Give it a listen; you're likely to learn some surprising things about this complex early American icon.

The program will be broadcast and carried on the station's live stream Tuesday at 6:00 PM and Wednesday morning at 7:00. It's also available as either a stream or podcast from the Archive page through next Sunday.


Thanks to Malaprops for the photo.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

This week: William Matthews

Sebastian had a trove of old cassette tapes of his father, William Matthews, reading his work, so I digitized them and made a selection for last Sunday's show; were Bill still living, it would have been his sixty-fifth birthday, so it seemed a more than appropriate moment to listen to his work.

Given the limits of our thirty minute format, we wound up favoring the more formal readings Bill made for his 1984 cassette collection Days Beyond Recall, just because that choice allowed us to include more poems. We closed the show, though, with two poems from a live reading Bill had given at The Poet's House in Ireland in 1992, complete with the "amiable banter" that provided settings of the poems for that audience.

I'd worked with Bill in the late 60s on the little magazine Lillabulero, and have though ever since that he was one of the most gifted of my contemporaries; it was great to hear his voice again, preserved on these thin charged strips of polyester film.

Give him a listen.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Jessica Smith comes to WordPlay

Well, actually, Wordplay went to her. But in any event, this week Charlottesville poet Jessica Smith reads from her book Organic Furniture Cellar and talks about her work. Her poems have spatial as well as the usual temporal dimensions we associate with poetry, which most often remains, as Susan Howe put it in the title of her 1987 book, the articulation of sound forms in time. While there's no way to share the visual fields via the airwaves, you'll find, I think, that there's plenty left to catch your ears.

The program broadcasts (and streams) at 4:00 PM on Sunday, and then is available from the station's archive page as either a stream or a podcast through the following Sunday.

If you check the archive before Sunday, you'll hear Walt Whitman (yes), Gertrude Stein, William Carlos Williams, Robert Frost, and Edgar Lee Masters on a special fall fundraiser edition of the show. The recordings were drawn from the collection Poetry on Record, produced in 2005 by Rebekah Presson Mosby, though I had to do some additional digital cleanup on the Whitman to make it listenable.

If you haven't dropped some coins into WPVM's bowl yet this fall, please do click on the "Donate" button on the station's homepage, or drop a check, whatever you can, into the mail to:

Mountain Area Information Network
34 Wall Street
Suite 407
Asheville, NC 28801

Just make your checks payable to WPVM.

You'll be supporting Wordplay and some other fine musical, news, and talk programming - real grassroots radio.

Update 11/5/2007: The version of Jessica's Wordplay that's available today begins with a couple of minutes of the show which precedes Wordplay, Pathways to the Sacred. Tonight a trimmed version of the show will go up on the internet server. The automation system's been slightly crazed.

Jessica's photo via Facebook.
Cross-posted at NatureS.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Marvin Bell tonight

While we were running down upcoming poetry events on last Sunday's show, I believe that Sebastian and I both mentioned the Bell reading at UNCA; unfortunately, we gave the wrong day for the reading. It's tonight, not Thursday, or tomorrow. Hopefully there's been enough other information about the event out there that most folks who'd attend have the date right.

Sorry about that.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Coming up this week ...

Rose McLarney joins us again this week, another year older (happy birthday, Rose), and wiser. She's now in the MFA program at Warren Wilson, and seems to like it so far, despite earlier reservations about such programs for poets. She's got lots of new work, so we'll listen to some of it and talk with her about her developing views on poetry and poetics.

Hope you'll come join us.

That's 4:00 this Sunday on WPVM, 103.5 FM, or streaming from the station website.


The photo of Rose dates from a reading at the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center in May of last year.

Fifty years later, still no Howl

User Knowfish of WPVM's listserve passed along last week an editorial from the N.Y. Times which reflects on the fact that 50 years after its having been declared "not obscene", Ginsberg's "Howl" still can't be broadcast on the public airwaves:

WBAI, long the radio flagship of cocky resistance to government excess, decided last week that it couldn't risk a 50th anniversary broadcast of the late poet's recording of "Howl."

If Ginsberg were still with us, he would undoubtedly pen a mocking line or two about his poem being banned from the airwaves 50 years after it was ruled not to be obscene. Congress, of course, could redress the F.C.C.'s bullying powers if it wanted to. But lately, the Capitol's most energetic broadcast agenda has been conservative members' organizing against any attempt to restore the fairness doctrine to political broadcast, which could crimp the 24/7 rants of right-wing talk radio. The poet would understand, having once noted: "Whoever controls the media, the images, controls the culture."

Indeed. We've thought several times about playing "Howl" and "America," another wonderful Ginsberg poem, on Wordplay, but have passed, since we'd have to bleep or cut them under current rules. Strange but true.

Cross-posted at NatureS.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Last week ...

on WordPlay, Audrey Hope Rinehart, who wrangles poets for the Flood Gallery reading series, sat down with me to talk about her own work and read some recent poems. Our conversation will be available as a download or stream on the station Archive page until Sunday night.
So I wrote last week over at NatureS.

Make that next Sunday night, October 14th, though, because the station's automation system glitched, and didn't record yesterday's fine program with California poet Mara Leigh. If you were listening live, you heard something much more ephemeral than any of us could know at the time!

Not to worry, though; we'll have Mara on again in the very near future. I'll keep you posted.


Thursday, September 27, 2007

WordPlay this week ...

This week Sebastian and I rushed back from a fine reading at the Flood Gallery by our own sometime co-host Glenis Redmond, A. Van Jordan, and Juilian Vorus to talk with poet Steve Godwin. Fortunately, Steve had also been at the reading and could share his impressions of it, as well as some recent work. Sebastian read from Jordan's new Quantum Lyrics.

Two weeks ago I took some time off to visit my son in Chapel Hill - and, of course, book addict that I am, hit a couple of used book stores, including the great The Bookshop on Franklin Street. There I found some early books by the sage of Scaly Mountain, Jonathan Williams, including his Amen Huzzah Selah, which collected very early work from the period when he was a student of Charles Olson's at Black Mountain College. From it I read "The Anchorite", a poem that's held up well enough through the years to have been included in 2005's Jubilant Thicket, a selection of poems from his whole career. We had a little time, so I also read a poem by the great Hilda Doolittle, or H.D., as she preferred to be known, her musical take on Sappho's "Fragment 113", neither honey nor bee for me ...

Enjoy. And, hey, it won't hurt you to read a poem this week.

(Similar text cross-posted at WPVM).

(And now at NatureS)

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Gary Snyder on WordPlay

Back in April Gary Snyder came to Hickory for a reading at Lenoir-Rhyne College, so fellow poet Thomas Rain Crowe and I headed down the mountain to hear what he had to say. Though we'd both read his new work as it had appeared through the years, neither of us had heard him since the 70s. Snyder gave us permission to record for the show, so this week we feature excerpts from that April reading, and a rare clip of him reading in 1965, as well.

The show will be rebroadcast tomorrow morning at 7:00, but you can always listen from the Archive page; just scroll down to the WordPlay link and stream away, or download the podcast.

We're working with the station web master to create a new feature for WordPlay, by the way: a permanent online archive of some of our best shows. When we've worked it all out, this one will be likely be there.

August 6th Update: Sebastian and Laura were both out of commission yesterday, so I decided to play the Snyder reading again - so it's held over, and will be available for another week.


I took the photo of Gary Snyder and Thomas Rain Crowe at the reception following Snyder's reading in Hickory. There are more here, over on Facebook (no membership required).

Friday, June 08, 2007

In late April poet Robert Bly came to UNCA for a reading that featured many of his translations of Kabir, Jiminez, Rilke, and others, as well as some of his own recent work. WordPlay, of course, was there. Bly graciously gave us permission to record the reading, and this Sunday we hope you’ll join us to listen to this master at work. Tune in at 4:00 PM, or for the rebroadcasts Tuesday at 6:00 PM and Wednesday at 7:00 AM. The show will also be available all next week as streaming audio and podcast.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Oops ...

Technical issues today, and the automation system that usually records the show got only twenty minutes of it before it croaked for reasons unknown. I'll try to get in to the station tomorrow to add ten more minutes of something; the first twenty minutes have Laura and me talking about Robert Bly's reading and workshop last week, so a few more Bly poems would seem to be in order. If you stream or download the show before Tuesday, you'll get the abbreviated version, so check back later in the week.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Tables Turned

As a WordPlay host I've interviewed a score or more of poets for the program. Last Sunday, though, found me on the other side of the console, interviewed myself by co-hosts Laura Hope-Gill and Sebastian Matthews. The program includes readings of several poems from my book NatureS, including the serial set "Strata: Rhododendron". The show’s still available via streaming or podcast from the archive page.

This Sunday’s show will feature a reading by Oregon poet Matthew Dickman; it was recorded last month at Warren Wilson College by WordPlay team-member Dylan Flynn. Tune in at 4:00 for his warm and genial presentation of his work.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

And a happy birthday ...

The Writer's Almanac today shares the news that it's Galway Kinnell's birthday:

It's the birthday of poet Galway Kinnell, born in Providence, Rhode Island (1927). He became obsessed with the poetry of William Butler Yeats in college when his roommate, the poet W. S. Merwin, woke him up one night and read Yeats to him until dawn. After that night, Kinnell devoted himself to writing poetry.
He's the author of many books of poetry, including Body Rags (1968) and Mortal Acts, Mortal Words (1980). His Selected Poems (1980) won both a National Book Award and a Pulitzer Prize for poetry. He said, "Maybe the best we can do is do what we love as best we can."

Kinnell's also the author of Strong Is Your Hold, published this past November, his eleventh collection. I've not yet seen it, but have heard reports that it's an intense, rich book - what I'd expect, given his previous work.

A little known fact: though not generally associated with the Black Mountain Poets (Olson, Creeley, Dorn, Jonathan Williams, et al.), Kinnell did attend Black Mountain College just after he'd encountered W. S. Merwin and the poetry of Yeats. More about that, no doubt, in a future post.

Happy birthday to one of the essential poets of his - or any - time.


Thanks to for the photo, and to Laura for the news that Kinnell attended BMC.

Friday, January 12, 2007

This Sunday...

This Sunday we'll welcome poet Lee Ann Brown to Wordplay.

Originally from Charlotte, Lee Ann attended Brown University, received her BA in Women’s Studies & English and American Literature with Honors in Creative Writing in 1987, and her MFA in writing in 1993. After graduation she moved to New York and became active on the New York poetry scene. She's now an Assistant Professor of English at St. John's University in New York.

Her two major collections so far are Polyverse, published in 1999 by the Sun & Moon Press, which was selected as winner of the New American Poetry Prize by Charles Bernstein, and The Sleep That Changed Everything, published by Wesleyan University Press in 2003.

She's read several times in Asheville at UNCA, Malaprops, and the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center, and shares a home near Marshall with husband Tony Torn and daughter Miranda when work permits her to spend time in the mountains.

There's an earlier appreciation of Lee Ann over at NatureS.


The photo finds Lee Ann on the front porch of her Marshall home in July of 2005.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


I was going through old photographs I keep in a Dobbs Bowler hatbox (the bowler, alas, long ago missing), and I found one of myself sitting on the ground outside the Green Door on Carolina Lane, a poetry notebook open in my lap, a pepsi by my foot. I'm wearing black jeans, white t-shirt, black velvet vest. Somewhere, there's a cigarette burning but I hid it from the camera. I was so hard core back then, such the poet. My long hair is unbrushed but clean. Sometimes a girl's hair sums her up completely. That was me in the moments before one of what seems like a hundred performances in the amazing Green Door, home to the early 90's Asheville poetry scene. Lately, we here in the Wordplay studio have been talking about "those days." What they were like, who was involved, what we did. First, it's impossible to imagine the poetry scene without that darn green door on the lane. Allan Wolf began the poetry slam there. Bob Falls, Bob Mills, Glenis Redmond, Christine Lassiter, Jim Nave, myself--we all took our turns at the standing mic on the concrete stage. And slowly a movement grew around the words. Pat Storm beat me in the only slam I did (it was something called a skydive slam or something--the poems could only be one minute or shorter in length. I did Jas H. Duke's "Productivity:" "Wool grows just as fast on a lazy sheep." Pat ran out after I was finished and shouted something nobody understood then dove onto the ground spraying all of us with fake blood. So, he won. That's the kind of evenings we had.
My favorite piece of our history as poets in this town has nothing to do with poetry at all, though. I think it was in 1994, we approached John Cram of Blue Spiral and asked if we could help turn the Fine Arts (meaning porn) Theatre into a Fine Arts (meaning independent cinema) Theatre. He agreed to match our labor and then continue with the project. The next thing we knew, we were there at the Fine Arts in virtual hazmat suits and goggles tearing the place apart, pulling the red velvet in long skeins from the walls. The building itself was a history lesson.There was a door behind the box office which had been the Black entrance under Jim Crow. The upstairs theatre had been the area where only African Americans sat, and there was glass separating it from the open air. Now, when I watch a film upstairs I can't help but consider what this space once represented. Anyway, John held up his end of the bargain and the poets held up theirs and the theatre we enjoy today is the result of that partnership.
Christine Lassiter and Pat Storm are no longer with us. But Allan Wolf, Jim Nave, Bob Falls, Glenis Redmond, myself, and countless others, continue to move in the written world. And I feel of late that some new energy is rising for poetry in Asheville. A whole new kind of thing. . . .