Saturday, September 24, 2011

100 Thousand Poets for Change

I just sent my poem "Conjugal Rites" to President Obama, Representative McHenry, Senators Burr and Hagan, State Senator Allran, State Representative Hollo, and Governor Perdue as part of today's 100 Thousand Poets for Change initiative. I have other poems I may send them in the coming days. Here is a link to the 100TPC homepage if you're interested:

Here is the poem I sent them today:

Conjugal Rites

I was the first she wanted to marry.
No surprise there. Every dad
a daughter’s first love. But then
she felt bad about excluding her mom,
decided the three of us should tie the knot.
We had to tell her you only marry one
other person, at least you plan it that way
and mommy and I were already married
to each other. She moved on to first
one brother, then the other, both of whom said
you can’t marry your brother. So then
she tried her best friend, a girl, asked
to be clear if girls could marry each other.
Already thrice denied what could we say
to make sense to a four-year-old.
Yes, of course, but only in some places,
only where love is not prescribed by law.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Flier for Hickory's 100 Thousand Poets for Change

Flier for Hickory's 100 Thousand Poets for Change Event. Please post or print and post anywhere interested people might see.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

NC Writers' Network Fall Conference Open for Registration

NC Writers’ Network Fall Conference Open for Registration

One of NC’s largest annual writers’ events, the NC Writers’ Network Fall Conference, is now open for registration. The conference will take place this year November 18 through 20 at the Double Tree Hilton in Asheville, just a block from the entrance to Biltmore Estate.

The keynote address of this year’s conference will be given Friday night by award-winning novelist Silas House. Another highlight will be Saturday night’s performance by Asheville Poetry Review Founding Editor Keith Flynn and his band The Holy Men.

Master classes in poetry, fiction, and non-fiction will be offered by Sebastian Matthews, Tommy Hays, and Tony Abbott. Five workshop sessions, including 18 workshops in all spread across Saturday and Sunday, will feature instruction in poetry, fiction, non-fiction, and drama from such well-known writers as Asheville’s Katherine Soniat and Holly Iglesias, Appalachian State professor Joseph Bathanti, novelist Ellyn Bache, nature writer George Ellison, and poets Scott Owens and Nancy Simpson.

A Marketing Mart with publishers and booksellers, Laura Hope-Gill, Nicki Leone, Stacy Hope Jones, and Laine Cunningham, will provide writers with an opportunity to create or refine an effective plan to pitch, promote, and sell their current, upcoming, or proposed books. Thirty-minute critique sessions with Bache, Cunningham, Rosemary Royston, or Jan Parker will provide in-depth literary critiques of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and screenplays. And the Manuscript Mart will allow authors to pitch their manuscripts and get feedback from publishers, editors, and agents from Algonquin Books, Press 53, FinePrint Literary Management, John F. Blair Publishers, or Judith Ehrlich Literary Management.

As always numerous exhibitor tables will give participants the chance to chat with publishers, literary journals, support organizations, and other friends of writers.

Registration material and more information on the conference faculty can be found at All workshops and classes have limited capacity, and the conference is typically attended by several hundred participants, so early registration is important.

Lots of News from the Poetry Council


The Poetry Council of NC is keeping quite busy these days, planning for its annual Poetry Day on October 1 in Salisbury while simultaneously starting up a new cycle of contests whose deadline for entry is November 21.

Poetry Day is a day-long celebration of poetry that will be held this year in the Crystal Peeler Lounge on the campus of Catawba College. Highlights of Poetry Day will include presentation of the 2011 Poetry Council contest winners, readings by those winners, the release of the council’s awards anthology titled Bay Leaves, and a live Poetry Slam competition. The event is open to anyone, and reservations may be made via the form found on the council’s website:

In 2012, the Council is moving Poetry Day from October to April to coincide with National Poetry Month. To facilitate this transition, the Council’s annual contests have already opened for submission and will close on November 21. The Council coordinates separate competitions for elementary, middle, and high school students, as well as adult competitions for free verse, traditional form poetry, light verse, and others. The Oscar Arnold Young Award is given to the best book of poems by a NC poet each year. Information on entering any of the contests is available on the Council’s website or by calling Ed Cockrell at 919-967-5834.

Entry in the youth contests is free, while most of the other categories have a $5 entry fee. First, second, and third place prizes ranging from $10 to $100 are given in most categories, and up to three honorable mentions are commonly named in each. All prizewinners and honorable mentions are published in Bay Leaves, and the poets are invited to read their poems at Poetry Day.

In 2012, Poetry Day will be held in Hickory, in the new Student Center on the campus of Catawba Valley Community College. Teachers interested in facilitating their students’ participation in the contests can contact Nancy Posey ( for high school students or Michael Beadle ( for elementary and middle school students. Local poet, Scott Owens, is available to visit classrooms to discuss these contests or coordinate workshops to get students started writing poetry. He can be reached at

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Change in Venue for Hickory 100 Thousand Poets for Change Event

Our venue for the Hickory 100 Thousand Poets for Change event has changed. Minetta Lane has gone out of business, so we will convene instead at Taste Full Beans Coffeehouse, same date (9/24) and time (2:00-4:00).

We have 18 poets so far. Given 2 hours for reading, that should be about 2-4 poems per person, although you don't have to read any more than you want to (others will certainly fill in the blanks). We're going to do a "reading in the round." I'll start; then whoever has one that follows nicely can go next; and so on until we run out of time or poems.

Remember our themes are peace, sustainability, tolerance, diversity, civility, the arts, and education.

Remember to send me copies of the poems you read for a special NC 100 Thousand Poets issue of Wild Goose (due out 11/15). Previously published is okay for this special issue. I'll be collecting and selecting poems from across the state (perhaps as many as 150 poets), so I can't promise you acceptance until I see all the ones I get.

Remember also to send your poems to your legislators on 10/24. We want to flood their in-boxes with these ideas and with the presence of poetry. Here are the relevant addresses for the Hickory area:

President Barack Obama: contact form at

Representative Patrick McHenry: contact form at

Senator Richard Burr: contact form at

Senator Kay Hagan: contact form at

NC Senator Austin Allran:

NC Representative Mark Hollo:

If there are other poets you want to invite to join us, ask them and if they say yes, let me know their names so I can get them "in the ring". Visit the 100 Thousand Poets website to see details on the other 499 events taking place on 9/24:

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Review of The Best of Poetry Hickory

by Pris Campbell

The Best of Poetry Hickory Anthology

From my distant perch in Florida, I’ve long been convinced that something in the Carolina water breeds especially good poets. This anthology, packed with well-written, spell-binding poems, more than confirms my suspicions. These poems speak in an engaging voice to the reader rather than announcing ‘look at how good I am” by way of contrived metaphors or other poetic devices inserted simply for the sake of having them there. These poems are good. It’s not necessary for them to preen or crow to let us know it.

I like to read poems I can relate to, poems that move me, poems that give me a way of seeing the familiar in a new light. This book did all of that in spades.

I could easily quote lines from every poem but space allows only a few. Those chosen were a difficult call but they give an idea of the range of themes covered in the anthology.

Robert Abbate asks in “Ecce Homo”:

What would Jesus do
once he could be lured
to the place of the fractured
pistol-whipped skull
and once, in the freezing air
he could be lashed to a barbed
wire fence outside Laramie

Maureen Sherbondy continues the theme in a different way in “Praying at Coffee Shops in the South”:

What are those public interludes with God?
Two men at Starbucks holding hands
bent over in prayer leaning into the invisible

Tony Ricciardell brings us back home as he speaks to his now helpless father in “Sins of My Father”:

If I spoke to your mother the way you speak to your wife you would have crippled me, wouldn’t you? If I called your mother bitch or whore, if I curled curses at her the way you hurled curses at my mother, you would have kicked me down the stairs, wouldn’t you?

Malaika King Albrecht’s poem, “The Riddle Song” brings tears as she writes of her father singing “I gave my love a cherry’ as he massages her mother’s useless limbs, hoping her mother is able to hear him, hoping she is looking at him as he sings.

Ted Pope views family from the other direction in “Bright Child” as he watches his daughter move swiftly from infant to adulthood:

….bright child holy child child of all my hope and reverence I
saw her coming down 4th St again today and today would not
be like any other day oh no today I’m going to follow her to
see where she goes to get that glowing external primal essence…

And Joseph Bathanti offers a bawdier view of the South in “Peaches”:

On a roadhouse bathroom wall
in the peach town of Gaffney, South Carolina
a woman’s body laminates itself
across the face of a condom machine

These poems are jewels. If I could I would string them around my neck so I could reach up and feel their glow whenever I liked. Needless to say, I highly recommend this book.

The Best of Poetry Hickory is available at Taste Full Beans Coffee House or from Scott Owens ( for just $5 -- All proceeds to Taste Full Beans in gratitude for hosting Poetry Hickory for four years. A reading from the anthology will take place on September 13, 5:30, at Taste Full Beans, and will feature 27 of the poets selected for the anthology.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Revised Upcoming Reading Schedule

Sorry about the confusion. I've had a couple of new requests to read and made a couple of mistakes in the previous listing. This one is about as up to date as I can make it. At most of these events, I will be reading from the new book, "Something Knows the Moment," but I will sometimes mix in some of my older favorites and a few newer ones. I still have copies of "The Fractured World," "Paternity," and "The Nature of Attraction" that I can sell at each event.

9/10, 7:00, Joe Milford Poetry Show,
9/13, 5:30, "Something Knows the Moment" Release Party, Taste Full Beans Coffeeshop, Hickory, NC
9/15, 6:00, Lazy Lion Bookstore, Fuquay-Varina, NC
9/16, 7:00, Lincoln County Cultural Center, Lincolnton, NC
9/17, 1:00-4:00, Momentous Writing Workshop, Coastal Carolina University, Pawley's Island, SC
9/24, 2:00-4:00, 100 Thousand Poets for Change, Minetta Lane Center, Hickory, NC
9/25, 2:00, McIntyre's Fine Books, Pittsboro, NC
10/14, Writers’ Night Out, Mountain Perk, Hiwassee, GA
10/15, Perpetual Writing Prompts, The Writers' Circle, Hayesville, NC
10/16, 2:00, NetWest Annual Picnic, Location to be determined
11/3, 7:00, Royal Bean Coffeehouse, Raleigh, NC
11/6, 3:00, Malaprops, Asheville, NC
11/6, 5:00, WordPlay with Jeff Davis,
11/18-19, NCWN Fall Conference, Asheville, NC
12/9, 6:30, Barnhills, Winston-Salem, NC