Al Black's New Book of Poetry, Man with Two Shadows, Launches Saturday Night

Praise for Man with Two Shadows

“Black’s experiences are universal, and there is comfort in looking at this profound loss through his eyes.” - Marjory Wentworth, SC poet laureate

“Al Black has put together a gorgeous and heart-breaking collection that is a testament to the dutifulness and responsibility we feel to and for parents we find difficult to understand.” - Ed Madden, Columbia, SC poet laureate

“Al Black’s poetry is astonishing, defiantly original; scrubs our ears with dirty bathtub water; roars with love for a leather belted father and battle-proven mother.” - Tim Conroy, author of Theologies of Terrain

Man with Two Shadows photo.JPG

When asked what inspired his earlier poetry, local poet, Al Black, answers, “Where you’re at. Sometimes you’re angry. Sometimes you’re happy. Sometimes you just see a situation and a metaphor goes through your head.”  This inspiration provides Columbia locals with a captivating voice to not only experience but to feel through Black’s stunning craft.

 

Local poet and supporter of the literary arts, Al Black, moved to Columbia, SC, nearly 10-years-ago.  Originally from Lafayette, IN, the father of 4 worked at The University of South Carolina in facilities management before retiring to become a full-time writer.

 

“My wife and I had four children and when the youngest one got old enough- my wife went back to school in her late 40s and got her PHD at 55 and wanted a career,” Black says, “So, I said, ‘I can work anywhere and I’ll go anywhere as long as it’s not further north,’ and so we ended up down here … I worked at The University of South Carolina for a while; I just left them. I’m 66, so I can be a full-time writer now and a trophy husband.”

 

Black attended college at Ball State, where he was an athlete who studied voice.   “I was one of those weirdos in college,” he says, “I was a voice major and an athlete.”   The poet not only played sports in college, but he would go on to coach college, high-school and semi-pro.

 

However, most Columbia locals know Black for his stunning craft of poetry and for the near 100 literary events that he hosts and co-hosts in a given year.  The poet crafted his first poem at the age of nine-years-old; however, he didn’t share his first poem until age 58, which resulted in the publication of his first book, I Only Left for Tea, published by Muddy Ford Press in 2015.

 

“I started really writing at eight or nine, but I never shared … I don’t know if I was afraid to share or if I just didn’t care to share,” Black explains,” When I came here, I didn’t see an event I liked, so I started what’s called Mind Gravy about eight and a half years ago.  I wanted to make sure I stirred it up as far as style, race, culture … about a month or two in, I shared a poem … I read it in a gallery and Cindi [Boiter] and her husband [Bob Jolley] heard me and said oh, they’d like to publish me and I was like, ‘I don’t know,’ but I eventually agreed to it.  And it’s gone from there.” Cindi Boiter and Bob Jolley are the publishers at Muddy Ford Press, a boutique publishing house just outside of Columbia.

 

Black’s first book was edited by Ed Madden and published by Muddy Ford Press. Madden is the Columbia city poet laureate as well as a professor of English at USC and the director of the university’s Women’s and Gender Studies Program. Since then, Black has co-edited a poetry anthology, titled Hand in Hand: Poets Respond to Race, with fellow poet Len Lawson, where several of his poems were published along with those of a number of local writers. Black and Lawson founded the Poets Respond to Race Initiative, and the anthology originated from the initiative.

Poet Al Black (photo by Forrest Clonts for Jasper Magazine)

Poet Al Black (photo by Forrest Clonts for Jasper Magazine)

Black has been very involved in issues of race and reconciliation.  This is work that the poet has always been passionate about, even while working at Perdue University in Indiana. “… I worked at a private business but mostly I worked at Perdue.  I was trained as a diversity trainer, and so, it’s been work that I’ve always been passionate about.  And, I believe whatever you do should reflect your values,” the former Indiana NAACP Vice President explains.

 

Today, most wait in anticipation for the poet’s newest publication, a collection of poems entitled Man with Two Shadows.  The book release will be held at Tapp’s this Saturday, September 22nd at 7pm.  At the release, you can expect live entertainment from jazz band, Vasaboo group, along with poem readings by the author, followed by a book signing.

 

The new book is a collection of poetry inspired by his father.  After his passing at age 94, the poet wrote for 120 days, eventually compiling a book with the poems he had created during the time-period before and after his father’s death.  Ed Madden, Black’s friend and first publication’s editor, edited this collection of poetry, as well.

 

“Well, it’s basically shortly before my dad’s passing and then it’s in two parts.  You know, that period shortly before when he’s getting sick and you’re going back to see him … and you’re beginning to worry,” the son says, “and then I was with him when he passed.  He passed a little after one o’clock in the morning.  And then it’s that time and then immediately after … that’s what the book’s about.  It’s about, you know, everybody has a different relationship with their parents.  It’s never all smooth sailing … So, yeah, my dad was the old-world way and you know, I was a baby boomer.  It’s dealing with that relationship, you know, that feeling that’s there.”

 

Months after the passing of his father, the poet lost his mother who was 93.  Both parents surface throughout Black’s latest poetry, and he is currently in the editing process for a book inspired by his mother.

 

“My father died at 94 in October. My mother was lonely and died in April at 93,” Black explains, “And so, I wrote for 120 days there, too.  So, now I’m in the editing process of her book.”

 

When he isn’t writing, you can find Black hosting and co-hosting multiple events, including Mind Gravy (Wednesdays at 8pm), Poems: Bones of the spirit (held once a month at a yoga studio), Blue Note Poetry (every first Tuesday of the month) and Songversation (monthly), along with multiple events surrounding the Poets Respond to Race initiative.  Each event is unique until itself.

 

Black also hosts and organizes three workshops, where poets, through invitation, work on a prompt, share their work and critique it.  Black stays busy and as evidenced through his dedication and involvement in the literary arts.

 

At age 66, the poet is still following what he is passionate about and living through his talent.  As said best by Black himself, “You know, if you have the talent for something, you should do.” Most are happy to know that this kind, humble soul lives through these words.

 by Hallie Hayes

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If You’re Going

Book Launch - Man with Two Shadows

by Al Black

Saturday, September 22nd - 7 pm

Tapp’s Arts Center

1644 Main Street, Columbia, SC

For more information on Muddy Ford Press go to www.MuddyFordPress.com

 

Announcing the 2015 JAY Gala Line-up

JAY 2015 graphic It's no coincidence that we patterned this week's 2015 JAY Awards Gala after the Italian Renaissance--a fertile time of humanism, art, architecture, science, and literature. In so many ways, we've been living through our own renaissance over the past several years in Columbia and we want to celebrate this fact at the same time we celebrate the 15 artists honored as Jasper's Artists of the Year Finalists and Winners.

Join us for an evening of Renaissance inspired food, drink (open bar), and entertainment, and the announcement of the Jasper Artists of the Year in Dance, Literature, Music, Theatre, and  Visual Arts.

  • Musical performance by the classical guitar duo Duo Cortado who will be playing Renaissance tunes and more
  • Renaissance inspired spoken word performances by members of Jasper's Wet Ink Spoken Word Collective, featuring Kendal Turner, Debra McQueen, & Kenneth Denk
  • Mini cello concert by Catherine Hunsinger
  • Impromptu performances by Al Black and Catherine Hunsinger
  • Leonardo daVinci (Michael Krajewski) will be creating his own version of the Mona Lisa from a live model
  • Michelangelo (Alex Smith) will be our guest throughout the evening embodying the Enlightenment, inciting evocative conversations, inspiring us with his multiple talents, (and maybe even creating art!)
  • Roving Renaissance entertainment from the Trustus Apprentices will keep the spirit of the Enlightenment alive and a smile on your faces
  • Il Magnifico's own Court Jester (Chris Carney) will meet you on the walk with fire eating demonstrations
  • USC Theatre Students are cooking up a surprise performance for us all
  • Bier Doc (Bob Jolley) has a rich selection of special biers and wines
  • Be sure to arrive in time to sample the Editor's Punch, created specially for this gala
  • Enjoy a sample feast of Renaissance-inspired dishes created by Chef Joe Turkaly
  • And, of course,the announcement of the Jasper Artists of the Year!

Tickets are $25 in ADVANCE and $35 at the door. Or join us at 6 for a special champagne reception in which you can sip bubbles, nosh on special treats, and hob nob with some of the greatest of the city's artists.

Come out and support your local arts magazine, celebrate its release, and congratulate the Jasper Artists of the Year Finalists and Winners: Martha Brim, William Starrett, Dale Lam, Eileen Blyth, Kimi Maeda, Russell Jeffcoat, Jullia Elliott, Ray McManus, Al Black, Jordan Young, Craig Butterfield, Heyward Sims, Dewey Scott-Wiley, Jennifer Moody Sanchez, and Kendrick Marion.

Special Thanks to Coal Powered Filmworks, Mouse House, Bert Easter of Easter Antiques, Richard Durlach and Breedlove of The Big Apple,  and Singing Fox Event Planning.

Spoleto Review -- Rosanne Cash by Bob Jolley

Rosanne Cash Rosanne Cash has chops—both hard-earned and genetic. Although not often thought of as a superstar herself, the oldest daughter of Johnny Cash crawled from working backstage as a wardrobe assistant for her dad, to being a background singer, finally a soloist, and ultimately the winner of a Grammy and nine other nominations, 11 number one country hit singles,21 top 40 country singles, and two gold records. Not too shabby.

Performing at Spoleto Festival USA on Sunday night in the TD Ameritrade Arena, Cash delivered an assortment of new material from an upcoming album, but focused on paying homage to the artists who have come before her—some of them friends and family members—many of the songs from her 2009 album The List. The List came about because at age 18 her dad had given her a list of 100 seminal songs in country and American music—she picked 12 to record with folks like Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, and Jeff Tweedy.

If only one word could be used to describe the concert it would be “professional.” Performing with her band of solid musicians, the Keith to her Mick and the Big Man to her Bruce is her husband, co-writer, lead guitarist, producer, and partner John Leventhal. Throughout the evening, the two bounced off one another both musically and with the kind of quips only a husband and wife team can deliver.

Highlights of the night included, from The List, "Long Black Veil," recorded in 1959 by Lefty Frizzell, written by Danny Dill, Marijohn Wilkin, and covered by the likes of Johnny Cash, and Joni Mitchell on the first Johnny Cash show in 1969, as well as The Band, Mick Jagger, Joan Baez, Emilou Harris and Dave Matthews. Also from The List was Dylan’s 1963 "Girl from the North Country," re-recorded in a duet with Johnny Cash in 1969. Other List songs performed included "Five Hundred Miles" by Hedy West and a take on the traditional "Motherless Children."

Of course Cash’s show would have not been complete without a rendition of her 1981 Billboard country chart number one, and Billboard pop chart number 22, "Seven Year Ache."

Rosanne Cash performing Seven Year Ache

Bob Jolley - publisher, Muddy Ford Press

 

 

Dropped into the Middle of a Major Arts Month - What to Do Today, Tomorrow, Thursday and Friday

Hello Columbia Artists and Arts Lovers! I just got back a few hours ago from London and Ireland where the Bier Doc and I sucked up every last morsel of art we could cram into the two weeks we were there -- Five plays, three art museums including the very cool Hugh Lane in Dublin which houses the actual studio of Francis Bacon, three guided walks (Irish literary, history, and trad music), over 30 pubs, most with music - all with brew, and more sights and sounds and cliffs and sheep and ancient neo-lithic sites than I ever thought possible.

Francis Bacon standing in front of his Triptych

Yes, we got home exhausted, which is unfortunate, especially given the line-up of art and art experiences that April has in store for all of us. We're going to try to keep you posted via our Facebook page and this blog - What Jasper Says, but you should also pay close attention to the listings at One Columbia as well as at Indie Grits which kicks off Friday night with a smokin' hot  Block Party.

indie grits

Tonight, we recommend you join Yours Truly as I help out at the USC Art Auction at the Campus Room of the Capstone Building on the campus of USC. The auction starts at 7 with a lovely reception at 6.

(This guys knows not what he's doing and neither will I)

On Wednesday, we recommend you schedule yourself for the Closing Reception for Painted Violins from 5 - 8 at Gervais and Vine at 620 Gervais Street which benefits our beloved SC Philharmonic.

"She Used to Play the Violin" by Wayne Thornley

On Thursday, the highly successful (blushing) Jasper Salon Series returns with a presentation and discussion by local poet, author, and creativity coach, Cassie Premo Steele. We'll start out about 7 pm with drinks and chatting, then at 7:30 sharp, Cassie will begin the program.

Cassie Premo Steele

We'll be posting more sneak peeks at all the cool stuff going on this month just as soon as we unpack and get a day's work done. I'm looking forward to seeing you all where you ought to be -- smack in the middle of the Southeast's newest and hottest arts destination, Columbia, SC!

Cheers,

Cindi

(note: not sure what happened to the previous version of this post which was missing most of its text. Oops & sorry!)

 

White Christmas Drinking Game -- Our Gift to You

 

The annual viewing of Irving Berlin's classic holiday film  White Christmas has been a part of our family Christmas traditions since before our kids were born. Now that our girls have grown up and found the loves of their lives, we still enjoy watching the film with the whole crew, but this year we added a twist that makes adult viewing oh so much more fun -- booze.

Annie, Bonnie, Kyle, and Chad, along with me and Bob, the love of my life (and founder of the feast), sat down last night with the film, a notebook and pencil, and a variety of boozes that ranged from Bob's amazing Dark Cherry Stout, Chad's key lime pie cocktails (my favorite), and Kyle's delicious classic Rye Manhattans, and we created The White Christmas Libation Extravaganza -- or, how to How to drink a blue Christmas white, and we knew immediately that we wanted to share the product of our labors with you. (What's that saying? It's a tough job but...)

It's pretty simple, actually. Load up the film (which can be streamed from Netflix  or from Amazon for 5 bucks), gather your beverages of choice* and get ready to imbibe. (*You might also want to gather a glass of water for each participant to sip on when the going gets tough.)

Here are your drinking cues -- and remember a sip counts, you don't have to guzzle.   Drink whenever anyone says the following words:

white

Christmas

snow

sisters

when anyone salutes

when Danny Kaye touches his arm

when Danny Kaye's voice cracks

when anyone notices an inconsistency in the film (check out when Vera Allen is pouring coffee in the dressing room she shares with her sister (drink!) Rosemary Clooney)

We've designed the game so that there are moments of hilarity, (particularly during a couple of Berlin's great songs like "Sisters" and "Snow") but there are plenty of lull times so you can enjoy the great classic film that White Christmas is.

In an effort to expedite this blog and get back to celebrating the holidays with my beloved (the girls have traveled to the homes of their sweeties for the holidays this year, hence the early celebration of Boiter-Jolley Christmas), I've lifted the following info directly from Wikipedia, but it gives you some background on the production of the film.

White Christmas was intended to reunite Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire for their third Irving Berlin showcase musical. Crosby and Astaire had previously co-starred in Holiday Inn (1942) – where the song 'White Christmas' first appeared – and Blue Skies (1946). Astaire declined the project after reading the script and asked to be released from his contract with Paramount. Crosby also left the project shortly thereafter, to spend more time with his son after the death of his wife, Dixie Lee. Near the end of January 1953, Crosby returned to the project, and Donald O'Connor was signed to replace Astaire. Just before shooting was to begin, O'Connor had to drop out due to illness and was replaced by Danny Kaye, who asked for and received a salary of $200,000 and 10% of the gross. Financially, the film was a partnership between Crosby and Irving Berlin, who shared half the profits, and Paramount, who got the other half.  Within the film, a number of soon-to-be famous performers appear. Dancer Barrie Chase appears unbilled, as the character Doris Lenz ("Mutual, I'm sure!"). Future Academy Award winner George Chakiris also appears as one of the stone-faced black-clad dancers surrounding Rosemary Clooney in "Love, You Didn't Do Right by Me". John Brascia leads the dance troupe and appears opposite Vera-Ellen throughout much of the movie, particularly in the "Mandy", "Choreography" and "Abraham" numbers. The photo Vera-Ellen shows of her brother Benny (the one Phil refers to as "Freckle-faced Haynes, the dog-faced boy") is actually a photo of Carl Switzer, who played Alfalfa in The Little Rascals, in an army field jacket and helmet liner. Robert Alton is credited as the film's dance director, although some choreography was created by Bob Fosse, who was not credited.

White Christmas ends up starring Bing Crosby and the beautiful Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and the anorexic Vera Allen (who was a phenomenal dancer, but so thin she could be painful to watch), and premiered in 1954. You know the name of the director Michael Curtiz from Casablanca, Yankee Doodle Dandy, and Mildred Pierce. (Curtiz was often criticized for lacking in character development -- which I think he addresses in this film, albeit rather simplistically -- and playing on emotions rather than intellect -- which, in White Christmas, is as true as can possibly be.)

But, we don't watch a movie at Christmas to analyze it -- we watch it to celebrate! And, this year, we invite you to watch White Christmas to drink!

Merry Christmas on behalf of the staff of Jasper Magazine and the crew at Muddy Ford! Thank you for all the love and support you've thrown our way this year. And may all your Christmases be white.

Cheers,

Cindi

 

Have YOU Written Your Six Word Arts Essay Yet?

We did it for the third time last night. Gave people a slip of paper, a Sharpie, and two thumb tacks and asked them to write what the arts meant to them in the form of a six word essay then pin it up on a board. The first time we did it was last Saturday afternoon at Clark Ellefson's new studio space on Huger Street back behind One Eared Cow. (The space is pretty phenomenal -- I can't think of anything in the city that compares to it in quality of design. Look for an article on Clark and his space in the July issue of Jasper Magazine.) We were celebrating Artista Vista with a poetry reading conducted by Kendal Turner. Lots of lovely poets came out to share their words -- and we were all inspired by the display of Jen Rose's exhibition, Neural Foliage. (Jen's work, which involved three constructions of three large canvases, lit from within, is inspired by her work with and interest in mental illness -- fascinating and beautiful.) Congratulations to Jen, by the way -- this exhibition marked the completion of her her work for her MFA.

 

 

Back to the Six Word Art Essay Project -- We'd been interested in inviting the community to take part in something like this for a while, having heard about similar projects on NPR, so the time seemed right. We followed up our first session on Saturday afternoon with another one that night at the Indie Grits Closing Party in an old bank building on Main Street. (My condolences if you missed this party. It was one of those nights when the vibe was right and it was just a great event. Special thanks go out to Wade Sellers who put together a pretty tight little interactive film experience, as well as the good and godly gentlemen of the Greater Columbia Society for the Preservation of Soul who spun like mad for us.) Over the course of these two events we chalked up several hundred essays.

People seemed to like taking a moment and making a contribution, so we pulled the board back out again last night for First Thursday and I'll be damned if we didn't collect almost a hundred more essays. Some are serious and some are silly, but they're all worth reading so we'll be running them in the July issue of Jasper. And we may even collect more entries at our next event, the Jasper #5 Release Party in the Garden.

 

 

 

So, if you haven't submitted your are Six Word Art Essay yet -- or if you have and another brilliant insight has been visited upon you, feel free to comment in the spaces below. We'd love to hear what you have to say.

 

 

Krewe de Columbi-Ya-Ya - "What we lacked in organization we made up for in sheer audacity ..."

 

 

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I can't begin to tell you how much fun we had last year, but maybe the photo above will help you understand.

Yes, that's me, chief instigator at Jasper Magazine on the far right, and to your left you see the be-stogied Kyle Petersen, grad student and USC English instructor as well as music editor for the magazine who, in lieu of a drum is appropriately banging on an empty panettone tin with relish. Continuing left and behind Kyle is Ed Madden, literary arts editor of Jasper, poet and one of USC's most beloved professors. Further left is Bob Jolley, aka the Beer Doc, Muddy Ford Press publisher, ER physician, and general founder of the feast out in our neck of the woods and, beside him, our eldest, Annie, grad student, USC instructor, political junkie, and newly the queen of distribution for Jasper Magazine. (Had she not been dancing out in Seattle, our youngest Bonnie, would most assuredly been in this photo as well.) In keeping with the family affair, my sister-in-arms, Kristine Hartvigsen, associate editor of Jasper, photographer, and the voice of experience around here, is pictured below arm-in-arm with the boy we wish were our little brother, local artist Michael Krajewski. And below that, Ed is pictured with his beloved, Bert Easter, antiques-meister and an integral part of university students' first year experience.

 

 

The day started early at City Roots Farm as we rolled up to a small but growing crowd of friends and soon-to-be friends dressed in their finest purples, greens, and golds with assorted costumes that ranged from a crawfish to a local artist who had fashioned a boa from discarded plastic grocery store bags.

What we lacked in organization we made up for in sheer audacity, and before we knew it, we were parading down Rosewood Boulevard to the beat of the Next Door Drummers. We lit our stogies and passed our flasks of the finest adult beverages. We sang, we chanted, we threw beads to shocked but delighted onlookers. In the vernacular of the 1960s we seriously let it all hang out. Returning to our starting point at the farm, we feasted and drank and listened to good music as the night wore on.

All this happened as a result of a few weeks preparation.

Well, folks, we've been working on Mardi Gras 2012 for a year now and, Sisters and Brothers, this year we are blowing it out of the water!

With close to 20 bands on board already,  a food truck rodeo, a much larger marching contingency that includes some of your favorite local artists and Columbia's own Alternacirque and more, the addition of a canine parade as well, this year's Mardi Gras Festival hosted by the Krewe-de-Columbi-ya-ya is sure to go down in history.

So this I posit to you: If you are reading this blog you are either a lover of the arts and Columbia's arts community or you are a friend of this magazine. Either way, you are a perfect candidate to attend this year's festivities either as a reveler, as one of the smart folks who grabs one of the last spaces to become a member of the original and hosting krewe, the Krewe de Columbi-Ya-ya, or by starting a krewe of your own!

And starting your own krewe is decidedly easy-breezy -- we have very few rules & all we ask for is $50 to offset parade costs and that you have at least 10 folks in your krewe. 

Are you listening folks at The Whig, Trustus, Art Bar, Tapp's Arts Center, Town Theatre, Workshop Theatre, The Betty Page Turners, Jam Room, Hunter Gatherer, 701 CCA, and every freaking department or program at any of Columbia's universities? What better way to bond and let off steam and show your city spirit than by representing yourselves proud and loud at Mardi Gras?

We roll on Saturday, February 18th and this year our theme is "Going to the Dogs" which means we also have a canine contingency in our walking parade. You can register and walk your pup in the parade and we'll donate the $5 registration fee to  The Animal Mission. Other proceeds will go to benefit Doku Farms.

Come on out, Friends and Neighbors -- we're growing large and one of these days you'll be so happy to look back at the beginnings of what is sure to be a great Columbia tradition and know that you were a part of the start of it all.

 

Laissez les bons temps rouler, Columbi-Ya-Ya!