Saturday, October 7, 2017

Poets, Storytellers, Writers, Books

Thursday Nite and Friday Nite Events in Columbus, Mississippi...

As I might have indicated in earlier posts, there is virtually something going on in Columbus, Mississippi, and many other cities and towns in the state every weekend of the year—but the best part is how easy it is to get to many of these events within a five-minute walk, a short jaunt to the next town, or an hour or so drive time. Sometimes, the problem is that it's difficult to decide which event to attend to the exclusion of other events.

Looking out from the Coffee Shop at the back of Books &
Boards during a busy night.
Thursday night, October 5, at the Books & Boards venue on Main in Columbus was Open Mic Night, where poets, storytellers, and writers read their work before a nice crowd, filling up all the chairs and tables in the store, as well as standing in the aisles. During this entire time, people kept the pie and coffee shop at the back of the store busy, as well. The readers covered all manner of genres, from poet-rap (with audience participation) to dystopian poetry read with a soulful cry to one reader bursting into ribald song as his piece called for, which delighted the audience. I took advantage (again) of open mic to read from one of my published works. I've been doing this once a month as I work my way through Book I of the Summer's Change trilogy. My purpose for these readings is to introduce many of my character sketches.

Friday, October 6, at the Rosenzweig Arts Building, several writers of the Columbus Writers and Storyteller group presented writing, in poetry and stories, in front of an appreciative group of listeners about "Livin' Mississippi." Angie Basson introduced the program to the audience and then read her piece "Mississippi You're a Crazy Quilt," and then because Deb (another writer in the group) couldn't be there, she read Deb's contribution to Livin' Mississippi. Jeanette Basson followed her daughter and read her piece about how her family came to Columbus, when she was a preteen and living on the west side of Columbus, and even how she ended up marrying the annoying boy on a church bus. Jeanette's piece took us back to a different time and evoked memories in the listeners, no doubt, of their own past. Jamella followed with an autobiographical sketch of her life and how she made it through as an adult, with beautiful daughters, after a lifetime of physical challenges, operations, and was inspired to be strong. I'd worked on my piece for several weeks and on the day of the presentation, I threw out everything I'd written and just spoke from a set of quickly jotted notes, which I used to initiate a thread that I could follow. It worked, and so I could spend more time engaging the audience than keeping my head buried in text. Donna Both, a retired teacher and grandmother used her time to read a poem she had written inspired by a local southern writer who had collected writings of her high school students into a book. Donna's poem, "I Know Things," hinted at a student in deep trouble, with a kind of cry of the lost, trying to brave her secret pain with bravado. And Donna's second entry was a children's story she had written for her grandchildren, complete with pictures about "Santasippi," a Mississippi version of Santa Claus. If I've left any of our writer's group readers out, I will correct this story.

Both events back to back on two nights is just one of the usual kinds of weekends we have around Columbus. This coming Friday at the Elbow Room Lounge is a free music night by a renowned blues musician—and this is just one venue.

I launched an ebook last September called Slices of Real Life, which is a collection of my essays written over several years and appearing in several literary anthologies. This year, this month, I launched a paperback edition of the same book. I worked for Amazon for many years, and now I am using their unique publishing venue to take care of a few of my writing projects in a way that makes them accessible to readers and to permanently capture them in book and electronic form. One reason I published this collection was to show readers of my fiction that my Common Threads in the Life Series, now seven volumes long (and finished) is not autobiographical. Slices of Real Life is autobiographical, and if anyone who likes my fiction wants to discover who I am (in part, maybe) my collection is now available. Slices of Real Life and the rest of my published work is available on Amazon. I'm currently working on spin-off novels for my Common Threads series and the next books in my fantasy series Twilight of the Gods.

One of the long-established southern bands from Houston, Texas, is ZZ Top. Their musical range spans several genres, including rock and blues. Enjoy!

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