The Reluctant Writer: Something Else to do When I Should Be Writing

January 6, 2010

McCormick, Hartvigsen, Buckner, Dickey — the art of the spoken word at FOM

I’m pretty excited about the presentation of spoken word art this Thursday night at Frame of Mind.  In addition to Cassie Premo Steele’s readings, which I recently told you about, three exceptional poets in their own rights will be sharing their work — and each has an impressive background in poetry with unique experiences to offer the listening audience.

In all likelihood, those of you who are into Columbia poetry will have already heard Christopher McCormick read.  Chris created the Art Bar’s VerseWorks poetry series back in September 2007 and, still today, Tuesday nights find Chris and his family of brethren and sister poets offering up the spoken word to the drunk and sober alike.    A self-professed combo meal of science nerd, IT geek, and  juggling poet, Chris is also a single father who still finds time to lead zombie parades about the city when the need arises.  Like many good poets, he has written all his life and even studied poetry under the late, great, and oh-so-straight James Dickey who, despite his bad comb over,  (I’m sorry — there’s a good comb over?), was the recipient of a number of honors including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Book Award, and an invitation to read his poem, The Strength of Fields, at the inauguration of my favorite president, Jimmy Carter.

According to Chris, who visits the Lord every Tuesday night during VerseWorks at Columbia’s Church of Free Speech, “I used to write to get the attention of girls.  Now I write because spoken word poetry is my favorite form of honesty — because I have found a true diversity and acceptance in this community that doesn’t exist anywhere else.  Oh, and also to get the attention of girls.”

What say Ladies?  Let’s give the boy what he’s looking for on  Thursday night at FOM.

~~~~~

Kristine Hartvigsen came to poetry later in life, having her first poem published in Brett Bursey and Becci Robbins’ The Point, in 1993.  Like Chris, Kristine also developed a relationship with the Art Bar and took over hosting their Open Mic poetry nights from 1997 – 1999, during which time she also published a monthly newsletter for poetry called Aurora Borealis. Since then, Kristine has built a career in prose, serving as editor of South Carolina Business Magazine and Lake Murray – Columbia Magazine, in addition to single parenting her exceedingly creative son, Colin.  A regular by night at local readings, Kristine spends her days fighting the good fight for the environment as marketing communications manager for the South Carolina Chapter of The Nature Conservancy.  I can’t wait to hear what she brings to the event on Thursday.

~~~~~

The final poet offering up her wares of words is Zen massage therapist, Melissa Buckner.  Poetry has been a part of Melissa’s life as long as she can remember, her first poetry seeing print in the USC -Sumter literary magazine, Sandhill. Hiker, songstress, Usui Reiki healer, Melissa describes herself as a Bohemian hippie living the life she wants to live.  She spent five years living in Prague, learning the Czech language while teaching English as a second language to impressionable Czech youth.  It was during her ex-pat days that Melissa published her first book of poetry, Little Bruises and Bits of Jade.

Here is one of my favorite poems from that collection —

~~

Yes, It’s Me

by Melissa Buckner

~

yes, it’s me

whispering poetry

slipping lines fluidly

one by one

counting lips

strands of silken

sleepy halo

speaking to each

curling sigh

~

calming skin

wishing words

spread willing

beneath

~

forefinger crisp and pink

smile closing upon the spine

knuckles kneading a song

~

one in two part harmony

swoon

I pretend to rest

~~~~~

Looking forward to seeing your smiling faces on Thursday night for Susan Lenz, Cassie Premo Steele, Chris, Kristine, & Melissa, and Heidi Carey playing the cello.

~

Until then — here is James Dickey’s poem delivered in honor of President Carter.

~

The Strength of Fields

by James L. Dickey

… a separation from the world, a penetration to some source of power and a life-enhancing return …

Van Gennep: Rites de Passage
Moth-force a small town always has,
Given the night.
What field-forms can be,
Outlying the small civic light-decisions over
A man walking near home?
Men are not where he is
Exactly now, but they are around him    around him like the strength
Of fields.    The solar system floats on
Above him in town-moths.
Tell me, train-sound,
With all your long-lost grief,
what I can give.
Dear Lord of all the fields
what am I going to do?
Street-lights, blue-force and frail
As the homes of men, tell me how to do it    how
To withdraw    how to penetrate and find the source
Of the power you always had
light as a moth, and rising
With the level and moonlit expansion
Of the fields around, and the sleep of hoping men.
You?    I?    What difference is there?    We can all be saved
By a secret blooming. Now as I walk
The night    and you walk with me    we know simplicity
Is close to the source that sleeping men
Search for in their home-deep beds.
We know that the sun is away    we know that the sun can be conquered
By moths, in blue home-town air.
The stars splinter, pointed and wild. The dead lie under
The pastures.    They look on and help.    Tell me, freight-train,
When there is no one else
To hear. Tell me in a voice the sea
Would have, if it had not a better one: as it lifts,
Hundreds of miles away, its fumbling, deep-structured roar
Like the profound, unstoppable craving
Of nations for their wish.
Hunger, time and the moon:
The moon lying on the brain
as on the excited sea    as on
The strength of fields. Lord, let me shake
With purpose.    Wild hope can always spring
From tended strength.    Everything is in that.
That and nothing but kindness.    More kindness, dear Lord
Of the renewing green.    That is where it all has to start:
With the simplest things. More kindness will do nothing less
Than save every sleeping one
And night-walking one
Of us.

My life belongs to the world. I will do what I can.


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