Event: Reading at Tango Marron, 4 May 2012, with Mercy Teague

Local photographer and friend, Erin Whitson, is displaying his work throughout May at Shades of Brown Coffee & Art in Tulsa. His show is called Tango Marron. You’ll have to come check it out to figure out why it’s a brown tango. I might dance with you.

This Friday, May 4th he is hosting an opening reception from 7-?. He has asked Mercy Teague and me to give a poetry reading starting at 8. The reception details are here.

Mercy’s bio:
Mercy Gallagher Teague is a performing poet from Tulsa. She was the Tulsa City-County Library’s 2006 Unpublished Poetry Prize Winner, and was published in Write Bloody Publishing’s The Good Things About America in 2008. She’s been a featured reader at Heller Theater and the Southwest Conference on Literature and Christianity. She can be found at myspace.com/mgtpoetry and youtube.com/user/mgtpoetry.

10 National Poetry Month Activities

National Poetry Month begins Sunday, which invites the question: how does one celebrate National Poetry Month? Don’t fret, friends; there are many ways to celebrate poetry. Here are 10.

10 National Poetry Month Activities

1. Attend a poetry reading.
Check your local library, coffee shops, and other art friendly venues for poetry readings or open mic events. No poetry readings in your town? Start your own. If organizing and/or hosting an event won’t work out, find readings on YouTube (or elsewhere on the vast interwebz). Watch them with a friend. If you live in or near Tulsa, I’d love to see you at the reading series I host, Third Thursday Poetry Night.

2. Read at least one poem each day.
This is easy to do and only takes a few minutes. You can seek out poems on the internet or in books, or, if you want something that takes less effort, sign up for a daily poetry newsletter. I subscribe to one from the American Academy of Poets that features both established and emerging poets.

3. Share poetry in an unexpected way.
Add a poem as your email signature. Write out poetry with sidewalk chalk. Staple a poem to a telephone post (beside those music gig flyers). Leave a poem with your tip when you dine out, and, please tip generously. I’m distributing packets from Found Poetry Review. These are only a few ideas. Let me know which other methods you’re using to spread poetry.

4. Keep a poem in your pocket.
Officially, Poem in Your Pocket Day is April 26th, but that doesn’t mean you can only carry a poem that day. You can print poems from the internet and fold them into pocket-sized pieces, or you can buy a small poetry volume.

5. Download a poetry app for your smartphone or tablet.
I wrote a post a while back about five free iPhone poetry apps, but there are many more available. I guess this is another way to carry a poem in your pocket.

6. Buy (and read) a poetry book.
Poetry isn’t just something for study in English class. Whitman, Frost, and other classics are great choices for something familiar, but why not give a contemporary poet a chance, too? Trust me, he or she could probably use the royalties.

7. Write a letter to a poet.
Have you read a poem that inspired you? Let the poet know how his or her work has affected you. Oh, when I say letter, I don’t mean email.

8. Write poetry.
I find that writing poetry is as moving as reading it, and I don’t think this is just because I consider myself a poet. Write at least one poem, or, if your more ambitious, join those of us who are participating in Robert Lee Brewer’s April Pad Poem-a-Day challenge.

9. Share your poetry.
I know many people who write poems they never share. Face your stage fright and share something at an open mic event. Post a poem to your blog. Give a copy of a poem to a friend. Write a poem for your significant other and read it to him or her.

10. Memorize a poem.
There’s no better way to always carry a poem with you than knowing it by heart. Anyway, it’s great brain exercise.

And one bonus:
11. Don’t stop when National Poetry Month ends.

Friday Favorite: Mark Doty

Mark Doty is a highly accomplished contemporary poet, but there’s a distinct lack of pretension in his work. His poems suggest a mind that is always surprised and elated by life’s experiences. And he invites us to appreciate life with him. Here’s a 2009 reading at Cornell University:

Event–I AM Yoga, Art, and Music Festival

I’m scheduled for a poetry reading at the I AM Yoga, Art, and Music Festival in Bixby, OK on Saturday, October 8, 2011 at 4:00pm in the “acoustic corner.” The festival starts on Friday at 5:00pm and goes through Saturday at 11:00pm. I think it’ll be a fun event, so please come hear my poetry and stick around for all the other goings on. For more details, see their Facebook page or website.

Method Monday–Writing Venues

There’s something about where I choose to write that sets the mood of my writing. My most frequent writing venues are coffee shops, my front porch, and anywhere outside.

Shades of Brown Coffee and Art in Tulsa, OK

Coffee shops give me great noise. I like to watch people, listen to them, see if I can find out something about humanity. The challenge when writing at the coffee shop, or any other public place, is to not allow the noise that offers me so much fodder to distract me.

I am blessed to have a large, covered front porch. I like to sit out there (usually after my kids are in bed) with my friends, tobacco and alcohol. There’s something incredibly relaxing about ending my day in this writing locale. This is also where I do most of my editing.

Tulsa Skyline across the Arkansas River

There are many great places to sit outside and write. In Tulsa, the local parks and the river are great venues. This is where I usually write about nature. I observe the plants and animals around me and try to become one with them.

Where do you like to write?

Friday Favorite–Billy Collins

I’ve enjoyed the work of Billy Collins for several years now, probably beginning with Sailing Around the Room (2001). I like what I assume most people like about his poetry: it’s often humorous. But it’s not cheap humor. His work shows great attention to detail and an impressive knowledge base. You may well laugh at surface level humor, but don’t ignore references to classic literature and his command of traditional forms. Billy Collins served two terms as U.S. Poet Laureate, an honor he well deserves.

Here are a few YouTube reading videos. Enjoy