It is mid-October, I’m late again with my poem releases, but you should forgive me, if only long enough to phone Ring Ring Poetry and hear Ed Bok Lee’s poem, “The Schooner”. Ed’s poem is sad and funny and desperate and hopeful. It is the poem of a dive bar in Minneapolis, of its people who came together and came apart in its desperation. On the surface, it is just the story of a man and the things he saw at a bar, but every moment that threatens to be dark ends in a joke, and every joke’s set up ends feeling sick to one’s stomach. There are allusions to things we heard about in the news, and things that would never have made the news, and one sublime moment where in all the grit and desperation, nature has a way of reminding one how very small the world is, relatively. Don’t take my word for it. Phone (612) 223-POEM, and listen to Ed’s poem a couple of times.
I will invite you to listen to Heid Erdrich’s poem at (612) 223-POEM, as it’s this week’s debut poem. (You can still hear poems from Joe, Kathleen, me, and all of the 2013 poets in the Ring Ring Poetry Archives.)
I’d heard Heid’s name around some before I first saw her read at Literary Death Match. Literary Death Match is this fantastic event run by Adrian Todd Zuniga and his nefarious posse of local organizers, which places writers in bars and boxing rings in mock competition, judged by locally famous judges, with a decidedly questionable final showdown round. It is one of the few events that I try to always get to, because I get to experience the most wonderfully surreal combination of serious, comedic, and completely surprising.
Kathleen Jesme is the author of Albedo, Ahsahta Press, 2014. Meridian: Tupelo Press, Winner of the Snowbound Chapbook Prize, 2012. The Plum-Stone Game: Ahsahta Press, 2009. Motherhouse: Pleiades Press, 2005. Winner of the Lena-Miles Wever Todd Poetry Prize; finalist for the National Poetry Series; nominated for the Poets’ Prize. Fire Eater: University of Tampa Press, 2003.
I met Kathleen when I sat on the Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grants Panel for Poetry. I was the token spoken word poet, an underrepresented population on poetry and literature grants panels, for a number of reasons, and there was something about Kathleen’s demeanor and approach that made me believe she would be a very good mentor for a poet like me. She pushed me to explore a lot of different types of poetry, to read a lot and to try a lot of different kinds of writing, different styles and philosophies. Working with Kathleen allowed me to find some experimental ways of expressing myself, my own new forms and rhythms.
I liked working with her as my mentor so much that I was nervous to see her perform her work, for fear that her poetry would disappoint me. I had no reason. There was something about her work that made me feel incredibly at home, as if I were in my mother’s kitchen, or in my grandmothers kitchen with my aunts, or walking around the farm. Her poems don’t make me homesick, they make me feel as if I am home. The poem she wrote and recorded for this week’s Ring Ring Poetry is no exception, familiar and present, as if one were walking with Kathleen and she were inviting you into a final walk through summer. Phone (612) 223-POEM and be transported.
Joe Horton is an emcee for internationally recognized hip-hop band No Bird Sing and a professor of Lyrical Composition at McNally Smith College of Music. He has a Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Hamline University. Horton is best known for his abstract, associative approach to songwriting.
The poem is by Joe Horton, of No Bird Sing. I met Joe a while ago through my friends Adam and Kyle. Adam, Joe, and I hung out at Pizza Luce a handful of times, coloring and telling each other ghost stories. We eventually wrote a poem together, which impressed upon me Joe’s amazing ability with word play, lyricism, and levels of meaning. Joe’s poem for Ring Ring shows that haunting lyricism, imagery of intoxicated interactions between the city and its inhabitants. I personally cannot stop listening to this piece. Call (612) 223-POEM to hear the piece. -Cole
I wrote an article for the Loft Literary Center, in preparation for the 2014 Ring Ring Poetry season, centering around my beliefs around collaboration.