RING RING POEM SIXTEEN, Sabo Bridge, Minneapolis, MN; June 25-30

IMG_6001Martin Olav Sabo pedestrian bridge, Hiawatha Avenue and Midtown Greenway

Thank you for calling Ring Ring Poetry. My name is Cole Sarar. This is the “last” poem of the scheduled Ring Ring Poetry series. Poems will continue to be available through the same phone number until the project runs out of funds or until I have a chance to put together a new project for the phone number (More Twin Cities poems from Twin Cities poets? A collaboration with a festival, or another set of artists? Some other, more technologically clever project?). But that’s all an upcoming post. Right now, let’s talk about this poem.

Over the course of this project I wrote a poem for each a library, a cemetery, a neighborhood, and a train station. Two in Minneapolis, two in Saint Paul. Two indoors, two outdoors. I put off deciding my last location for a long time, made lists of places I wanted to write poems about. One day, biking home from work, I stopped, not a quarter of the way home, knowing that I knew the answer. I did research, being a nerd, found out a lot about bridges, about trains, about trees. I tried to jam it all into a poem. It did not work. So I slept on it, woke in the morning, and asked myself what does it mean to be on a bridge- which lead me to the right poem, a poem I am very happy with, a poem I am especially happy to leave as the last poem of the scheduled series. It’s a good poem.

Things I learned but cut from the poem: three of my four favorite trees are kind of the same tree, the fourth tree is sort of “misnamed”. Our favorite Martin Olav Sabo Bridge is one of several built in the same style of a pedestrian bridge in Germany. If the angle of the bridge’s mast (which I guess is technically called a “tower”, but come on, Look At It) was just 2° different, it’d be the proper angle for one of the legs of an inverted, five-pointed star. People are working on all sorts of strange electronic noses, because human noses aren’t all that great. Things you will learn from the remaining poem: what it means to stand in the middle of a bridge with your eyes closed. Call 612 223-POEM.

Thank you,


RING RING POEM FIFTEEN, Franklin Avenue Library, Minneapolis, MN; June 21-24

1314 E Franklin Ave, Minneapolis, MN

Lost Poem BaoBao Phi is considered one of Twin Cities slam poetry’s “old guard”, and seems to have found a balance between his performance work and being an active part of the community. His Equilibrium series has been phenomenal, keeping performance poets from here and from out-of-state on the Loft stage- reminding us that there are lots of voices to be listening to, lots of different styles and stories to be told. His blog posts on the Star Tribune’s website have been thoughtful and necessary, and that’s not even touching on his work as a poet.

His poem for Ring Ring Poetry is an honest examination of trying to make sense of identity in the face of racism, about family, community, and being honest with oneself. Call (612) 223-POEM to hear the piece. -Cole

Bao Phi has been a performance poet since 1991.

A two-time Minnesota Grand Slam champion and a National Poetry Slam finalist, Bao Phi has appeared on HBO Presents Russell Simmons Def Poetry, and a poem of his appeared in the 2006 Best American Poetry anthology. His poems and essays are widely published in numerous publications including Screaming Monkeys and Spoken Word Revolution Redux. He has also released several CDs of his poetry, such as the recently sold-outRefugeography to his newest CD, The Nguyens EP.

He has performed in venues and schools across the country, from the Nuyorican Poets Café to the University of California, Berkeley. He was featured in the award-winning documentary feature film The Listening Project as an American listener who traveled the world to talk to every day people about global issues and politics. He also returned to acting in 2008 with a feature role in Theatre Mu’s production of Q & A.

In addition to his creative work, he was nominated for a Facing Race Ambassador award in recognition for his community work, and has published essays in topics from Asians in hip hop to Asian representation in video games. He maintains a popular blog for theStar Tribune’s website, which he uses to bring issues and alternative perspectives on Asian American community to light. Currently he continues to perform across the country, remains active as an Asian American community organizer, and works at the Loft, where he creates and operates programs for artists and audiences of color. He was the Coordinating Chair of the National APIA Spoken Word Poetry Summit, 2011.His series, Equilibrium, recently won the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits Anti-Racism Initiative Award.

His first collection of poetry, Sông I Sing, is published by Coffee House Press. In 2012, the Star Tribune’s inaugural Best of Minnesota issue named Bao Phi as Best Spoken Word Artist.

RING RING POEM FOURTEEN, NE Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, Minneapolis, MN; June 17-20

Lost Poem SarahNE Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, (roughly) 21 13th Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN

I was introduced by Coffee House Press to poet Sarah Fox just this spring, and she introduced me to her collaborator, Fred Schmalz the day of the recording. Their poem is the longest of the Ring Ring Poems, at 7 minutes, but fully embraces the idea of exploring a physical location with poetry. If you take the time to visit the sculpture garden, you’ll see the shapes and plants referred to in the poem, and perhaps learn a bit about them in the process. Thick with mythology and playful with sound, the piece is by turns light, philosophical, suggestive, and matter-of-fact. Performed back and forth between Sarah and Fred’s voices, it is perhaps the least “narrative” of the pieces thus far- suggesting shapes on a page like sculptures, the asking of questions about the nature of art and existence, and thoughtful explorations of what might be their answers.

RING RING POEM THIRTEEN, Wild Onion Bar, Saint Paul, MN; June 14-16

Lost Poem Kyra788 Grand Ave, St. Paul, MN

When I decided to involve other writers in the proposal for this project, Kyra Calvert’s voice was one of the ones, I had on a short list of people I’d really like to contribute, not because she’s a big famous name in any of the twin cities writing scenes just yet, but because she has a voice that deserves to be listened to- and because I hadn’t heard it in a while. There will always be reluctant artists, through insecurity, disinterest, distraction, or the belief that a human must follow a certain course of achievements in order to have paid their dues. I don’t presume to know what Kyra has been up to, but I’m glad to reached out to her and you’ll be glad you listened to her.

Kyra brings something that you won’t hear in the other poems of Ring Ring- a poem less in love with its location. Why should we assume that every place in the Twin Cities deserves odes?  Kyra reads with great emotion, and tells a uneasy story without a moral, or a neat bow to tie it all together gently and sweetly. You owe it to yourself to listen to this beautiful, uncomfortable piece. 612 223-POEM.

RING RING POEM TWELVE, Ford Plant, Saint Paul, MN; June 10-13

966 S Mississippi River Blvd, St Paul, MN

Lost Poem BrianBrian Beatty’s poem is short and lovely, and takes place at the old Ford Motor Plant that they’re tearing down starting Monday, June 10. It’s worth trying to go and listen to Brian’s poem wherever you can get near the old Ford Plant while they’re tearing down the plant, because this is a lot of what his beautiful little peace is about: that which is temporary, and will be reclaimed. 

Brian Beatty’s jokes, poems and short stories have appeared in numerous print and online publications. His limited edition humor chapbook DUCK! was published in 2009. He has a poetry chapbook, Earliest Bird Calls, due out from Ravenna Press sometime in 2013. Brian hosts the monthly literary podcast “You Are Hear” and writes the “The Columnest” twice each month for mnartists.org.

RING RING POEM ELEVEN, Union Depot, Saint Paul, MN; June 7-9

Union Depot 214 4th St E  St Paul, MN (Stand under the clock facing the Greek restaurant).

I wanted to write another Choose Your Own Adventure poem for Ring Ring Poetry, but one where the choices were emotional ones. I also wanted to sneak a poem into Northern Spark without applying. I wasn’t so much worried about getting in, so much as I missed the application deadline, and Ring Ring isn’t so much about asking permission.

So I went to the Union Depot two weeks ago and spent some time in the building. It was almost entirely empty at the time, and may be when you go to listen to this poem, unless you’re also going to see all of the things that are Northern Spark. I’m including a few photos from that day in the quiet, empty depot. Phone (612) 223-POEM to hear this poem.

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