JASPER IS LOOKING FOR POEMS ABOUT LOVE, SEX, . . . AND TECHNOLOGY?

 

Jasper is looking for a few good poets, writers, spoken word artists to be part of Jasper's literary salon at the What's Love evening of arts and performance in Columbia, to be held 7-12p.m., Feb 14, at 701 Whaley.  Jasper is hosting an upstairs salon, which will include poetry and spoken word, and film.
THEME - The 2012 theme for What's Love is technology and how it affects our relationships, sex, and love lives.  What's Love - Input/Out.  Along with the use of technology by artists, attendees will participate in exhibits through social media and by using their cell phones at the event.
HISTORY - What started as an alternative for singles and couples who didn’t want the traditional Valentine’s night out has become a major annual event that merges visual and performing arts, with themes that challenge ideas about sex, romance, intimacy and love.  What’s Love attracts one thousand attendees and receives extensive media coverage.   With over 20 participating artists, including visual, performance, literary, media, and music, What's Love has become one of the city’s most talked about parties, but foremost, a major exhibition opportunity for South Carolina artists.
WHAT JASPER IS LOOKING FOR - Jasper wants to host two short sets of poetry—erotic, romantic, straight, gay, good writing, words that can move us, words that make us laugh or make us think (or make us hot).  Jasper is also planning to produce a small, limited-edition, chapbook of poems, to be sold/distributed that evening.  (You do not have to be a reader to be in the chapbook; you do not have to be in the chapbook to be one of our performers.)  We need:
•                4-10 writers to read/perform
•                poems (or short short flash fiction) for a small Jasper chapbook of good writing (approx 12-20 pages)
•                writing should address the themes of the show
Send your writing and a short (2-3 sentence) bio to:  emadden@jaspercolumbia.com.

Creating Columbia: An Artistic Experience -- A Guest Blog from Sumner Bender

 

I have been involved with theatre in Columbia almost all of my life. It is an outlet, which from an early age, has given me more encouragement and excitement than almost any other activity in which I have engaged. After moving away to another country, I was without my theatre for an entire year. That was enough of that I knew. I decided that I would never live my life without the theatre again. One of the main things that I missed while in that foreign land, where I did not speak the native language, was a community. I had other foreigners, like myself, to joke and talk with and on a certain level connect. There is a bond built when you share an interesting situation like living abroad. But there is no community that I have ever felt more alive and involved then that of the theatre community. Upon my arrival back to the States I dove back into my old passion. I was barely in the country a week when I had signed on to do my next theatrical production, Reasons to be Pretty, at Trustus Theatre. And voila, I was back.

As I became more aware of my surroundings, and the reverse culture shock began to wear off I noticed that something had changed in Columbia. Well something had changed, but so had I. My eyes were opened wider than they had been before my departure and noticed this little city, that I had known all my life, opening up for me. All of a sudden there were artists of all variations wherever I went. I found myself traveling in packs of people I had never met before, but who spoke and looked liked the ones I had always known only slightly different.  Somehow this college town that seemed monotonous and trite and something to complain about had become a flourishing venue for the arts and a breeding ground for new experience. Where had they come from, had they been here all along? I don’t know and I don’t care, all I know is that it is here and it is now and it is all happening.

Working as a legal assistant most of my college career I spent plenty of time on Main Street hustling court documents and vying for stamps and certified signatures. Now I stroll down the street dipping in and out of various buildings hoping to see some inspiring work of art, whether an instillation at Anastasia’s or the ever changing scenes at Tapp’s. The first few times at gallery openings around town I noticed a large audience of my peers, people whom I barely recognized as someone who may or may not hangout at that bar I like to go to. In general there just seemed to be a thriving scene of interesting and interested people feeding off this new cultural frenzy taking place in our small southern city. Everywhere you look people are building and creating. It is vibrant and exhilarating to watch and feel.

Having been a part of the creative class of theatre folk that has been pounding on the door to this city for decades, I couldn’t help but want to combine the two. What separates the arts from one another? The genres of course, the performer, the visual artist, the sculptor, the musician…director etc. at the heart of each of these individuals lies the same bit of truth. Creation. Where there once was nothing now there is something, from a blank page, a blank wall or a blank stage each of these creators adds life to the lifeless. So why is it that we keep them all separate, one thing here another there and very little mixed in between. Arts in this climate, political and economical, are something that have to be continuously fought for, but one of the most important things in a community worth the fight.

To begin we must evolve these communities into one. Separately theatre, film and galleries have thriving followers. The would be regulars at the local bars, the ones we can count on to support us no matter what, but how much can we ask of the ones who already give us so much. We need to share with each other. Open our doors to collaboration between the arts. Introduce each other to the enriching beauty this city has to offer. Make it our mission as creators to build a bridge for our supporters to support each other creating a solid base for this city’s artistic class to not only stand on but rely on as well.

This is the 27th season at Trustus Theatre. We have been pushing the creative envelope since the doors opened in 1985. Yet as I stroll down Main Street I will meet many a people who have never set foot in the doors of the theatre, or any theatre in town for that matter. That has to change. Selfishly of course, I would do anything to keep our doors open because I believe in what we do, but at the same time I think we could offer those people a new experience one that they can keep coming back to and counting on. Just as I say that there are plenty of Trustus regulars who have never set foot in a gallery in this town. It would almost never occur to them to do so. It isn’t there style, it isn’t their interest. But isn’t it, really?

Think about it, we are all after the same thing even if we go about it in completely different ways. We are a family and right now we are estranged. That makes for pretty lonely Thanksgiving dinner. Wouldn’t it be much more fun to bring all the quirkiness together, all the eccentricities supporting one another like one big dysfunctional family? I mean it doesn’t get much more dysfunctional than trying to consistently create in a state that thinks the arts should be thrown out with yesterday’s trash. Well one governor’s trash can be one community’s absolute treasure. But it has to be one that we all share. No finder’s keepers, but finder’s givers. Tell us what is working for you and share your successes with everyone else out there trying to keep this cultural class in Columbia on the rise.

We have started off simply, by asking some of these visual artists to hang their work in our theatre. Help us turn our space where we sometimes hang art into The Gallery @ Trustus. So far we have bemet with overwhelming excitement from those involved. Next we are asking the writers who fill notebooks whilst sitting in small coffee shops to write a poem and enter it in our Spring Awakening Poetry Contest. We want you to enhance our audiences with your words, like our actors enhance them from the stage. Our goal is to make Trustus an artistic experience, but it takes you to make that possible. Enter your poetry, hang your art, come see our shows. Tell your friends. In return you can expect them same from us. We will go to your shows and look at, maybe even buy your art. We will listen to you sing and watch you mesmerize us with your dance. But all in all we have to do this together, let’s make Columbia an Artistic Experience.

~~~

The Spring Awakening Poetry Contest

 Trustus Theatre, in conjunction with this December’s production of the Tony award-winning Broadway hit musical Spring Awakening and Jasper Magazine, announces The Spring Awakening Poetry Contest. Share your own experiences, your own version of the coming of age experience through poetry. The winning poems will be published and winners will receive tickets to Trustus Theatre’s production of this award-winning play.

Winner of 8 Tony awards, including Best Musical, Spring Awakening celebrates the unforgettable journey from youth to adulthood with power, poignancy, and passion. Although our own experiences are individual, the coming of age theme resonates with all of us.  Whether it was tragic or transformative, the loss of innocence of the power of self-discovery, we all experience coming of age as a kind of awakening.  What did you learn (or not learn), and what can we learn from you?  What does it mean to you to come of age, to awaken, to discover who you are, to become an adult?

The Spring Awakening Poetry Contest will have 3 winners, one each in Adult and High School categories, and a third winner to be chosen as a Fan Favorite on Facebook.  The top 10 finalists will be posted on the Trustus Facebook page and the Fan Favorite selected through Facebook feedback.

Each winner will receive 2 tickets to Spring Awakening at Trustus and will have their poems published in the shows program AS WELL AS being published in the January edition of Jasper Magazine. Besides Fan Favorite the winners will be chosen by Ed Madden, literary editor for Jasper.

Effective IMMEDIATELY the entries are to be submitted online to thegallerytrustus@gmail.com as a Word document ATTACHMENT with the subject POETRY CONTEST. The deadline for entries is November 18 at 5 p.m. On Monday November 21 the Top 10 submissions will be posted on the Trustus Facebook page where voting will open for Fan Favorite. Voting will end at midnight on November 26. The winners will be announced online on Wednesday November 30.

Submission Guidelines: Work can be any form or style of poetry, but the poem should focus on the Spring Awakening coming of age theme.  Poems should not have been previously published in print or online, including personal blogs and internet web pages.  Only one entry per person. If you are entering the High School portion please tell us what school you attend!

 

 

Jasper Pint and Poem Walk Registration is OPEN!

 

The time has finally come to register for one of the

25 limited spaces

in the

Jasper Magazine First Annual Fall Pint and Poem Walk.

Join us on Wednesday, October 26th as we

Poetically Parade to 4 of Columbia's most Perfect Pubs where we will Passionately Partake of Precious Pints of the most Palatable Potation (i. e., beer) while Pigging out on Pretzels, Popcorn, and Peanuts.

~~~

Meet the Jasper Crew at a pre-designated spot in Columbia’s Vista where you will park your car and be shuttled to Main Street.

Start your evening of tippling with a tasting of up to a half dozen rare beers at the Jasper Magazine studio in the Tapp’s Arts Center.

Follow Professors Ed Madden & Ray McManus

—your pint and poetry guides—

as they, along with the Jasper Crew, guide you on a

walking, drinking and reciting tour of

4 of Columbia’s most venerable locally-owned pubs.

Registration is limited to 25 participants so register today at www.jaspercolumbia.net

Jasper asks, Do you remember what it was like to discover love and sex and who you are?

Jasper is working with Trustus Theatre to present:

The Spring Awakening Poetry Contest

Trustus Theatre announces, in conjunction with this December’s production of the Tony award-winning Broadway hit musical Spring Awakening, The Spring Awakening Poetry Contest. Share your own experiences, your own version of the coming of age experience through poetry. The winning poems will be published and winners will receive tickets to Trustus Theatre’s production of this award-winning play.

Winner of 8 Tony awards, including Best Musical, Spring Awakening celebrates the unforgettable journey from youth to adulthood with power, poignancy, and passion. Although our own experiences are individual, the coming of age theme resonates with all of us. Whether it was tragic or transformative, the loss of innocence or the power of self-discovery, we all experience coming of age as a kind of awakening. What did you learn (or not learn), and what can we learn from you? What does it mean to you to come of age, to awaken, to discover who you are, to become an adult?

The Spring Awakening Poetry Contest will have 3 winners, one each in Adult and High School categories, and a third winner to be chosen as a Fan Favorite on Facebook. The top 10 finalists will be posted on the Trustus Facebook page and the Fan Favorite selected through Facebook feedback.

Each winner will receive 2 tickets to Spring Awakening at Trustus and will have their poems published in the shows program as well as being published in the January edition of JASPER Magazine! Besides Fan Favorite the winners will be chosen by Ed Madden, poetry editor for JASPER.

Effective IMMEDIATELY the entries are to be submitted online to thegallerytrustus@gmail.com as a Word document ATTACHMENT with the subject POETRY CONTEST. The deadline for entries is November 18 at 5 p.m. On Monday November 21 the Top 10 submissions will be posted on the Trustus Facebook page where voting will open for Fan Favorite. Voting will end at midnight on November 26. The winners will be announced online on Wednesday November 30.

Submission Guidelines: Work can be any form or style of poetry, but the poem should focus on the Spring Awakening coming of age theme. Poems should not have been previously published in print or online, including personal blogs and internet web pages. Only one entry per person.

My father, dying

In this month’s Poetry magazine, a poem by Kevin Young, one of my favorite poets, caught me by surprise. Sometimes that happens, that twist, that leap, that chill of meaning that is both of the work and not of the work. I’m not sure how to write about this.

You can read the poem, “Pietà” by Kevin Young online here where a blogger has posted the poem. (Note: The poem is not centered in the published version. Subject for another day: centered poetry, pet peeve.)

Who is this “I” in the poem, and who is this “him”? I wondered. The title, Pietà—pity—suggests all those images of Mary cradling the body of her dead son. Whoever the sought-for “him” is, he can’t be found in heaven (“too uppity” and “not enough // music, or dark dirt”), nor in the earth. Death appears in the poem, a boy bounces a ball, and the speaker notices the delay of sound reaching him. Then Young ends: “Father, // find me when / you want. I’ll wait.” Prayer? Elegy? Father or father or both?

Last spring as my father was dying of cancer, I was reading poems, writing poems, drawn to poetry as a form of understanding, a way to process my conflicts and my grief. Poems I’d always loved and taught, from Alfred Lord Tennyson’s “In Memoriam” (his long elegiac sequence about the death of his dear friend) to Li-Young Lee’s stunning first book Rose, had new resonance for me. New pain, new forms of consolation.

Yes, sometimes this is what art does: offers consolation.

I’m not sure how to write about this. It feels, maybe, too personal.

I know I’m seeing dead fathers everywhere. My own keeps showing up in my dreams. I picked up a thin collection of new Scottish poetry when I was in Dublin in July, Intimate Expanses, and the first poem was Alastair Reid’s “My Father, Dying.” “The whole household is pending,” he writes. “I am not ready.” (I remember when the hospice nurse told us my father was on “the imminent list.”) The end of his father’s life, writes Reid, seems the beginning of something else: a “hesitant conversation / going on and on and on.”

In the July/August issue of Poetry, a poem by another favorite poet, Spencer Reece, “The Manhattan Project," a poem that ends, stunningly: “The quietness inside my father was building and would come to define him. I was wrong to judge it. Speak, Father, and I will listen. And if you do not speak, then I will listen to that.”

So I'm thinking about my father, I’m writing about my father. Here’s a draft:

Last Night

Last night, bright moon, dark trees lining each horizon,

armadillo digging up the flowerbed. The yucca’s last buds glow white.

Last night, a nightmare, lame as nightmares come, but

for all that, I woke up calling out for my father’s help. My mother

woke, her soft feet at the door.

Last night, she says, she heard voices, in the house, outside the window,

someone calling her name. It’s like that now.

Last night my dad asked how I got there,

sitting beside his bed, his head against the rail,

his soft focus stare. He says something else

I can’t quite hear, his quiet voice receding, as if

he’s elsewhere, another room. My mom says sometimes he waves

at someone, but no one’s there.

So I’m writing about and to my father. Not pleased with many of them, but writing. Maybe it’s a way to keep that “hesitant conversation” going. I am thinking about all the conversations I never had with him. I am listening to the silence. As I sit here at my desk, the dark shadow of a large hawk keeps crossing the backyard.

-----

For those of you who are writing or have written about illness, USC Sumter is hosting a writing contest (essay and poetry). Download the information here. Deadline is September 16.

Shame On You

I’ve been thinking a lot about shame lately. If this blog had a soundtrack it would be Evelyn Champagne King, 1978, “Shame.” (Yeah, I'm listening to it again while I write. Listen along!)

You can see him, can’t you? That skinny gay kid with bad Barry Manilow hair, dancing in front of his mirror to the eight-track tape….

Maybe I’m thinking about shame because I spent some time in my childhood home earlier this year, sleeping in that bedroom. (The mirror and the eight-track player and the Barry Manilow hairdo are gone now.  It gets better.)

Maybe it’s also because this is Gay Pride week in Columbia—rainbow banners on every street.  Pride is supposed to be the opposite of shame, a way of reclaiming as good an identity that has been, in the past, pathologized, demonized, stigmatized. (I do love those rainbow banners. I remember how excited we were, when I was on the Pride planning committee years ago, and that first gay pride street banner went up. We kept driving by it, smiling.) Pride is shame turned inside out. (A list of Pride events can be found here.)

Mostly, though, it’s because I’ve been working with the Sebastian art show, which I wrote about in an earlier blog. The beauty of the vilified.

Shame is a fundamental emotion of our childhoods—I think that it is amplified for some gay and lesbian kids. Therapists like to draw a distinction between shame and guilt: guilt is what we feel for something we’ve done or haven’t done, but shame is what we feel for who we are. It’s connected to our identities.

Shame can’t be erased or excised or purged. Nope, the residue of it sticks to us, no matter how much we try to wash it away, pretend it's not there. All we can do is transfigure it in some way, use it, understand it, recognize it, learn from it.

And write about it.

So in my poems about Sebastian, I was thinking about how and why we learn from shame, from the ways we’re shamed and the feelings of shame and the ongoing effects of shame. I don’t have answers; I was thinking of my poems as gestures, provocations, explorations, attempts. I was thinking about Sebastian and John O'Hara and Pinhead and Debussy and archery books and ampallangs and the Cowardly Lion. (Dorothy yells at him, “Shame on you,” before he breaks into his song: “It’s sad believe me, missy, when you’re born to be a sissy….”)

I wrote a series of poems or prayers for Sebastian. Here’s the last one of the series:

For Saint Sebastian

Arms, be bound. Legs bound, rope wound.

The rope that binds is shame. The arrow is shame, the bow.

Shame is a wound, shame is a caul. That we may learn the eloquence of shame.

That we may learn that the arrows do not kill you.

The tree stiffens the spine. The arrows do not kill us.

 

I’m still listening to Evelyn Champagne King. I know she’s singing about something else, but still, those lyrics sing for me. “Gonna love you just the same. Mama just don’t understand….”

- Ed Madden

 

Jasper Magazine - the Word on Columbia Arts debuts in print in

15 days

Until then, visit us at www.jaspercolumbia.com

and subscribe to this blog by adding your email address to the box at right

Mind Gravy Poetry

Mind Gravy Poetry is the brain child of Columbia newcomer, Al Black, who took things into his own hands when he moved to the city and didn't find a poetry reading series that met his personal needs. (There are several other poetry reading series in town including a Tuesday night session that leans toward slam at the Art Bar and, when university classes are in session, a series that originated out of the MFA program at USC, called The Shark's Parlor.) Al's lovely wife returned to college when their four children got older, completing her Ph.D. from Purdue University at the age of 55, and moving to Newberry College in August 2008 to teach. In Indianapolis, the Blacks' hometown, Al had been very active in the music and poetry scene and he regularly contributed satire to a liberal blog.

Missing his old Indianapolis fun and a venue for sharing written word poetry, Al started Mind Gravy at the now defunct Gotham Bagels a little over a year ago. The site of the readings has changed as businesses closed and the group of regulars grew, and in February the regular reading moved to Artsy Fartsy Art Gallery and Coffee Bar in Cayce.

"We are bursting at the seams," Al says. "Most nights we have 10 or more people standing and we total 40-50 people."

Tonight, Jasper Magazine literary editor, Ed Madden, along with Ray McManus will be the featured poets. Rev. Marv Ward is the musical guest.

A few more things Al would like friends of Jasper to keep in mind:

 

*We are a free venue & no participants are paid

*We go every Wednesday from 8-10 PM

*We start with a guest musician (original music), followed by the featured poet and then open mic

*We have had featured poets from VA, NC, TN, GA, FL & SC

*70% of the featured poets are page poets, but we have featured performance, slam, dub and hip hop poets in the past

*Our music runs from SC folk/country to R&B, hip hop and everything in between

*Open mic is limited to 2 pieces per person – all types of poetry, all types of music, an occasional dance, once a magician and once a comedian – we try to be positive and encouraging of all levels artistic expression

*We expect to begin webcasting in October – this will widen our market and our reach for featured poets

*Al doesn't feature himself, but sometimes he'll read a piece or two during open mic

*Occasionally, we will have an artist paint during the event

*An interesting note -- about two months ago, the house-mother for a group home for developmentally handicapped women started bringing 6 of the women to Mind Gravy. They come each week, enjoy themselves, leave at 9:30 and are respected & appreciated by our regulars – it is the most unusual thing I have ever seen. (Jasper's heart swelled a little when he read this.)

*The first Wednesday of each month is youth night – adults come, but it is youth performers

*The 2nd & 4th Wednesdays are normal Mind Gravy

*The 3rd Wednesdays Al hosts the Columbia Writer’s Alliance -- same format, but Al is trying to encourage this organization started by African-American women - so we call it Mind Gravy presents Columbia Writer’s Alliance

*Whenever we have a 5th Wednesday, we do it on some special theme – this month has a 5th Wednesday and the theme is percussion; we have some different percussionists coming in and, of course, poetry

*Mind Gravy operates on the premise that cross-pollination of different art forms at the event increases the audience size and diversity, engenders appreciation of differences between art forms; creates an environment that encourages collaboration and, is just a delightfully wonderful time.

 

Well, those dear readers who are familiar with the mission of Jasper Magazine, know that Al just said the magic words. Collaboration, coming out of our single-disciplinary arts caves, and contributing to and taking inspiration from other artistic genres and communities is a sure-fire way of building and enriching a sustaining community of artists and arts lovers.

Congratulations to Al Black and the participants of Mind Gravy for being pro-active and pro-arts. Be sure to check them out tonight or any Wednesday when you need some words to soothe your soul.

And before you leave us today, please take a moment to look to your right on this screen and go ahead a and subscribe to your daily dose of "What Jasper Said." We don't want you to miss a word.

And please check out our website at www.jaspercolumbia.com.

Thanks, Y'all.

-- cb

Jasper says, "Arms be bound with rope and shame"

One thing about Jasper, he gets his hands dirty. Sometimes he comments about the art he sees and hears, but sometimes he’s got his hands down in it, making something. So sometimes we’ll write about what we’re doing.

So: I’ve been cutting up Jesus. Will I go to hell for this?

I’m working with a collaborative of artists –visual artists, filmmakers, performance artists—on a show called Saint Sebastian: From Martyr to Gay Starlet. The one-night-only gallery show will be Sept. 1 at Friday Cottage Artspace downtown (1830 Henderson). (Yes, we know, we know: same night as First Thursday.) The event was planned in conjunction with SC Gay Pride on Sept 3; the idea was to add an art element to the week of events.

 

 

The show, conceived by Alejandro García-Lemos and Leslie Pierce, explores the quirky iconography of Saint Sebastian, martyred twice (the first time didn’t work—Saint Irene pulled all the arrows out), his eyes always raised to heaven but his body writhing across this history of Western art in masochistic ecstasy. How does a Christian martyr become a gay icon? What is it about his story, his image, the representations of his martyred body? (The publicity art—which juxtaposes a male pin-up with stained glass, by Leslie Pierce—captures, I think, some of the weirdness of this icon.)

There’s a great image of Sebastian in the Columbia Museum of Art. The Virgin and Child are pure Byzantine, blue and gold and flat, but Sebastian is looking over the Virgin’s shoulder like the Renaissance, naturalistic, a real body, the cords of his strong neck.

The Sebastian show will include visual art, performance art, photography, film, a small souvenir chapbook of original art and poetry, a DJ, a cash bar, and a couple of boys standing around with arrows.

I’ve been writing poems about Sebastian—some about the image and history, some responding to specific works by the other artists. The interactions and collaborations have been rich and rewarding. (Note to self: there should be more interdisciplinary artist collaborations. Such a great way to generate new work.) A film visually responds to a poem which responds to a print, the film incorporating a voiceover of the poem and the imagery of the print. A photo documents a performance art piece which uses a poem which responds to a print (the poem projected—performance art into film—onto a male body).

I was asked to turn a small room into a poetry chapel. I’ve got icons, prayer cards (with a prayer to Sebastian.) Among other things, I wanted some prayer banners. My partner found some huge folk religious art canvases at a local auction—interesting because the artist was painting traditional Christian images, but clearly had a special interest in the textures of men’s bodies—the veins on arms, the carefully painted chest hair on an apostle. (And that carefully draped loincloth across the fisher of men, looking so like a wardrobe malfunction about to happen, the hand of Jesus so carefully positioned there, as if he’s about to rip it off.)

So for the banners I cut up bodies—Jesus, apostles, thieves on crosses. Something wicked and vaguely erotic about it. Disembodied arms. An arrow (real arrow) in the side. Wrists bound with golden rope. A prayer. “Arms be bound with rope and shame.”

-- Ed Madden

 

A poem by Ed Madden

Dream fathers

By Ed Madden

We drive across the bridge, late at night, a hundred feet or so of clattering boards—

no rail, no rim, just jagged planks, and river flowing slow and brown below. The bridge

collapsed last year. I cross it every night in sleep—sometimes alone, sometimes with him—

but always away from home. The bridge's end may veer; each night I go someplace else,

dark cypress swamp on either side. One night my father is the driver and the car.

He opens up the door of his side, and I climb in. I cross the bridge again,

riding in the body of my father.

 

 

Dream fathers and more of Ed’s poetry can be found in his most recent book of poetry, Prodigal: Variations, 2011. Ed is the poetry editor for Jasper Magazine.