Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Sat., April 26: LILA workshop -- Complicating the Poem

Saturday, April 26, 2014
10 a.m. - 1 p.m.
LILA Write Charleston! workshop: "Complicating the Poem"
Susan Laughter Meyers, instructor
Circular Congregational Church
150 Meeting St., Charleston
Registration: $30; $20 for LILA members/students/seniors
To register: bardowl2[at] (bard+owl+2 . . .) 

Like our contemporary world, some poems are best understood as complexities. This workshop will look at strategies for moving a poem draft from the simple to the complex--from the linear to the braided, the multi-faceted. We'll be looking for a variety of ways to delve into a subject that is better-served by the complications of research, collage, associative leaps, as well as other approaches that can enlarge and enliven the poem. And the ironic thing is this: to complicate a poem is simple! (If you already have a chosen subject for a poem, feel free to bring a draft or some notes/research.)

Why "complicate" a poem, you might ask. Because certain poems--perhaps with a subject that leans toward being unwieldy--cannot contain themselves in a brief, simple, linear fashion. That's when it's time to break the poem open to see where it wants to go, what approaches it wants to take, who it wants to take with it, and how. We'll be exploring some of the possible paths to take.

Please write me with any questions you might have. As I do with all my workshops, I'll provide a class packet with suggested writing activities, pertinent quotes, and resources for participants to take home and turn to later for further investigation of how our topic.

If you're in the area, I hope you can join us!

For more information about Lowcountry Initiative for the Literary Arts (LILA) events, check out the website here.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Reading with Elizabeth Swann at Flyleaf Books on April 10

What a treat it was to read with Beth Swann at Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill last week. We read at the Second Thursday Poetry & Open Mic Night, a monthly poetry event coordinated by Pam Baggett and Stan Absher. There were about 20-25 people there, including my sister Janice, my college roommate Fran and her husband, as well as good friends Sally and Marylin. It's always fun to travel to a reading when I can combine the poetry experience with visits with friends and family. (The night before the reading three of us ate at Kitchen, a nearby restaurant in the same strip mall, which I highly recommend. Seared salmon over collard greens—yum!)

At Flyleaf I read mostly from My Dear, Dear Stagger Grass; and Beth read from her book Port Desire, published last year by Finishing Line Press. Poet Marjorie Stelmach says this about the approach Beth takes with the book’s poems: “She examines the forces that draw us equally to the safety of harbor and to the hazards of the open ocean, open road, open heart. . . . In addition to a wide-ranging intelligence, there is wisdom in these poems.” Congratulations, Beth!

The open mic following our readings proved what a lot of talent the Chapel Hill area holds. It was a rich, active segment of the program with a lively audience eager to show their support. Thanks to all there for also showing that support to Beth and me. We loved being there!

This year's Press 53 Gathering of Poets

What a great time I had at this year's Gathering of Poets in Winston-Salem, NC, on April 5. It was the fourth year that Press 53 and Jacar Press have cosponsored the event, and my second time attending (this year as faculty). Six of us were on this year's faculty: Jaki Shelton Green, Katherine Soniat, Metta Sama, Keith Flynn, Richard Krawiec, and I. We each taught the same workshop twice, once in the morning and once in the afternoon. I had the pleasure of sitting in on Katherine's and Metta's workshops, and I'm all the richer for those two experiences. My own workshop was called "Losing (Your) Intention and Finding a Poem," a subject which I thoroughly enjoyed investigating to prepare for the day. When thinking about what to teach in classes and workshops, I always choose a topic that I myself want to spend time on and learn from.

Every workshop that I taught or attended at the Gathering of Poets was filled with 15-20 engaged, inquisitive, knowledgeable poets who had much to offer all the others in the room. The sort of gathering that brings about learning and friendships! If you're in the area next year, it'll be the last weekend in April. Do go if the opportunity arises, and be sure to register early as the day accommodates only 53 registered participants, a small but mighty group.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Thur., Mar. 27: LILA poetry reading at Circular Church

How I'm looking forward to reading with my talented poet friends tomorrow night at an event sponsored by the Lowcountry Initiative for the Literary Arts (LILA)! Here are the details:

THURS., Mar. 27
READING by poets

  • Richard Garcia
  • Barbara G. S. Hagerty
  • Susan Laughter Meyers
  • Marjory Wentworth

7 p.m.
Circular Church 
150 Meeting St., Charleston, SC
Book signing to follow
$5 suggested donation

All four of us have new books out or forthcoming shortly:

  • Richard Garcia: The Other Odyssey, winner of the American Poetry Journal Prize (Dream Horse Press)
  • Barbara G.S. Hagerty: Twinzilla, winner of the Hilary Tham Capital Collection Prize (Word Works)
  • Susan Laughter Meyers: My Dear, Dear Stagger Grass, winner of the Cider Press Review Editors Prize
  • Marjory Wentworth: New and Selected Poems (University of South Carolina Press)

 Please join us if you're in the area!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Mar. 11: Reading & workshops at The Cooper School

The morning of Tuesday, March 11, was my time at The Cooper School in West Ashley, near Charleston. First I gave a brief reading to a room full of young students seated before me in a semi-circle on the floor. The room was full of windows, so I had the joy of seeing the children's smiling faces and, behind them, the sun shining on the lovely small campus. I read a few of my poems and a couple by other poets.

Afterward I met with two classes for workshops—a 4th- and 5th-grade class and a 2nd-grade class. The first workshop had about 18 students and the other about 14—ideal for a workshop to generate new poems. We wrote a group poem in each workshop and then spent time starting individual poems. Such delightful, enthusiastic students, who are lucky to have such dedicated, caring teachers. Thank you, Cooper School!

Sunday, March 02, 2014

The Columbia Broadside Project celebrates its success

On Friday night the Columbia Broadside Project, directed by Darien Cavanaugh, held a closing reception at Tapp's Arts Center to celebrate its month-long exhibit there. The reception included music, poetry readings, and a panel about the collaboration process. The Project, funded by a Kickstarter campaign, brought about the collaboration of 28 visual artists and poets to result in 14 beautiful broadsides by the participating pairs. Such an imaginative and talented group! I was honored to participate and to collaborate with artist Matt Catoe on our broadside entitled Lately She Falls to Dreaming.

The broadsides, as well as a chapbook of the broadside art and poems, are available for sale. For further information, check at the Columbia Broadside Project page on Facebook.

Monday Night Poetry & Music reading, Feb. 24

What a joy it was to read in the Monday Night Poetry & Music Series last Monday! The Series always has a supportive audience, which includes a lot of talented poets who typically read in the open mic. Thanks to host Jim Lundy for having me—and to all who came to help me continue celebrating the release of My Dear, Dear Stagger Grass.

Poets in the region, this Series is a wonderful place to read. The events are weekly and held at the charming East Bay Meeting House in Charleston, SC. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Tomorrow's poetry workshop: "Persistence and the Poem"

I'm looking forward to teaching an OLLI at CCU workshop at the Litchfield Education Center tomorrow. Because it's on "Persistence and the Poem," I've been thinking a lot about digging deeper when writing a poem, not giving up on it too soon. It's hard to sit there and keep at it when you don't know which way to turn, or what's working and what's not, or how much of what you've written you'll have to ditch—but the thing is to keep going. All those matters can be dealt with later. I like the idea of being persistent. It's a good life lesson. And, hey, it's fun—if you consider the discomfort of squirming in your seat fun.

It’ll be my first time teaching in the new Litchfield Education Center. We’re a small class so we’ll happily meet in the conference room around a big table. Nothing beats the camaraderie and imaginative thinking that go on when a bunch of poets get together.