Columbia's Favorite Poetry - Today, featuring Cassie Premo Steele

national poetry month.jpg

In celebration of National Poetry Month the Jasper Project invited several artists, writers, and leaders in the Columbia arts community to share with us their favorite poems and most of them generously accepted.

We’ve put together this collection of our favorite poems and will be sharing them with you, poem by poem, day by day, over the month of April. Some of the poems are old and traditional, others are new and inventive. Some are whimsical, others are insightful. Some rhyme. Some don’t.

What they all have in common is that someone you know loves that poem – and this gives us such lovely insight into the soul of our community.

Thank you to everyone who shared their poetry with us.

And Happy National Poetry Month from Jasper.


Our fist poem is from poet and author Cassie Premo Steele.


Cassie Premo Steele


"My favorite poem is For Each of Us by Audre Lorde. Audre Lorde's poetry has been important to me throughout my life, so much so that I remember being in my twenties and feeling like life was worth living because I hadn't yet read everything she'd written. I love this poem especially because it is fierce and wise and supportive, but with the paradox of truth that makes Lorde a poet-philosopher. Power and pain exist together. Preparing a meal is essential, but there is more to life. The best politics come when we quiet down and do the work. Nothing is eternal, even the deepest love. And yet, we go on loving and nurturing in a spirit of pride and strength."



By Audre Lorde


Be who you are and will be

learn to cherish

that boisterous Black Angel that drives you

up one day and down another

protecting the place where your power rises

running like hot blood

from the same source 

as your pain.


When you are hungry

learn to eat

whatever sustains you

until morning

but do not be misled by details

simply because you live them.


Do not let your head deny

your hands

any memory of what passes through them

nor your eyes

nor your heart

everything can be used

except what is wasteful

(you will need

to remember this when you are accused of destruction.) 

Even when they are dangerous examine the heart of those machines you hate

before you discard them

and never mourn the lack of their power

lest you be condemned

to relive them.

If you do not learn to hate

you will never be lonely


to love easily

nor will you always be brave

although it does not grow any easier


Do not pretend to convenient beliefs

even when they are righteous

you will never be able to defend your city

while shouting.


Remember whatever pain you bring back 

from your dreaming

but do not look for new gods

in the sea

nor in any part of a rainbow

Each time you love

love as deeply as if were


only nothing is



Speak proudly to your children

where ever you may find them

tell them

you are offspring of slaves

and your mother was

a princess

in darkness. 



Cassie Premo Steele is the author of fifteen books, including six books of poetry, and her new novel, The ReSisters, will be out later this year.


Cassie Premo Steele

Cassie Premo Steele

Meet the 2016 2nd Act Film Fest Filmmakers

2nd act 2016 Back for our 3rd year, the 2nd Act Film Festival, under the direction of Emmy-nominated filmmaker and Jasper film editor Wade Sellers, hits the screen Friday night at 7 pm at Tapp's Arts Center. Tickets are just $10 and are available by clicking here! Past festivals have sold out to SRO audiences and tickets are going far quicker online this year than in years past, so a word to the wise ...

But no need to wait until Friday night to meet this year's filmmakers. Here's a brief intro below to what you have in store on Friday night, October 14 at 7 pm.



Cory John

Cory John

Film: At Last

Columbia, SC actor, screenwriter, producer, and director Cory John began performing at his hometown high school Spring Valley. There he noticed and embraced his love for theater and acting. He later became part owner of Real Records LLC where he was a writer and director for their original film series, which included "Spare the Rod" and their feature film, "Addiction: What’s Yours?" He has since gone on to star in productions such as Yesterday Is Still Gone, Finding Hope in the Struggle, and Thee Final Destination 2 Love, to name a few. His recent endeavors include being director for the EmPOWERment Corp, and appearing as co-writer, co-producer, co-director, and lead in the Horror film Bag Lady set to premiere in October of 2016. Cory is also the director and founder of Cory John’s Murder Mystery Dinner Show, which will soon celebrate its one year anniversary of bringing fun, food, and horror to the Carolinas. Cory is a lover of the arts and credits his writing and directing of his latest short film "At Last" as his best work to date.


Tamara Finkbeiner

Tamara Finkbeiner

Film: Bait

Originally from Barbados, Tamara is married to Janson Finkbeiner and a stay at home mom with my joys; King Kai, Big Jon and Benji. She graduated from Columbia College with a Bachelor of Arts in Music. She works in graphic design and is a co-founder with Josetra Robinson of our company One7evenOne Productions LLC.


Collins White

Collins White


Collins Abbott White is a filmmaker born and raised in Greenville, SC. He directed his first film when he was a senior in high school, and went on to study film in college. Upon graduating, Collins founded Other Vision Studios, a film and video production company with the goal of producing feature films in Greenville and helping to establish an industry presence in the upstate. For the past 5 years, Collins has worked with upstate businesses to help them capture the essence of their brand in video while producing several short films and the pilot of a mini-series as well as several YouTube Channels. He is passionate about the art of filmmaking and is determined to push himself in terms of story and quality every chance he gets.


David Holloway

David Holloway

Film: Botched

David Holloway is a freelance Cinematographer from Greenwood, South Carolina. He specializes in commercial and documentary projects. He is the owner operator of StoryReel Productions. He has a history degree from the University of Plymouth, UK. David is a self taught filmmaker, however, he has taken several workshops through Maine Media College. David is a passionate and dedicated film maker who is always looking to work with and learn from others.


Chris White

Chris White

Film: All Seeing

Chris White is an Irmo High School grad who now resides with his family in Greenville. His first film, ED THE MOVIE, was shot thirty years ago with a camera he bought at the old K-Mart on Bush River Road. Chris' next film is a rock-n-roll road movie about a kid who becomes a roadie for his favorite Christian hair band during the summer of 1986.


Kendall Jason

Kendall Jason -  kendallprojects

Film: Tonewood

Kendall (Jason) kendallprojects was born and raised in Columbia South Carolina. He briefly majored in Studio Art while participating in the football program at the University of South Carolina and North Greenville College. Leaving South Carolina he attended Art school at Ringling College of Art & Design in Florida where he received his BFA in sculpture. Upon graduating from Ringling he and his wife moved to New York where they lived in Brooklyn while working at Dia Center for the Arts (a nonprofit organization that initiates, supports, presents and preserves art projects “whose nature or scale” would preclude other funding sources). Also while in New York he received his MFA from New York University while teaching undergraduate classes in the fine art department. In 2009 Jason returned to South Carolina after his twin girls were born. Now back in Columbia Kendall works as an art teacher and spends most of his time in the studio developing new projects around ideas involving southern masculinity and blue-collar work ethic.


Ebony Wilson

Ebony Wilson

Film: W H O R L

Ebony is a returning filmmaker to the 2nd Act Film Festival from the Columbia area. She currently owns and operates her own independent production company, Midnight Crow Productions, is the administrator of the Columbia Film Community networking group, and manages branding and online positioning for media, talent, and film professionals in the Film Community Directory. Her latest works include Divine Intervention (a 48 hour film project), Underground 13 (web-series), and Prelude to Infusco (feature length sci-fi drama).


Michael Tolbert

Michael Tolbert

Film: Parental Guidance is Suggested

Michael Tolbert is an actor/director based out of Columbia, South Carolina. Over the course of four years he starred in Operation Adventure, hosting the documentary travel series. Most recently, Tolbert appeared in science fiction horror film Alienography and made his directing debut with the documentary film Wood: A Family Affair. Previously, Tolbert worked as a production assistant on films such as 50% and the short film Drifts. Both films have made their way across the nation screening at both Campus Movie Festival and Frameline Film Festival.


Jennifer Baxley

Jennifer Baxley

Film: Reality Really Bites

Jennifer Baxley is an amateur filmmaker whose inaugural music video “Jenny Saves Trump’s Jewels” allowed her to meet Donald Trump during the auditions for the Apprentice. This launched her very fruitful but profitless filmmaking career.  She’s produced five music videos, won a Palmetto Pillar Award and performed assorted production tasks on a few awesome films.  In her other lives she is a software developer and adjunct instructor for Midlands Technical College.


Tyler Matthews

Tyler Matthews

Film: Mr. Wonderful

Tyler Matthews is an equally adept filmmaker and music producer. After a four year stint in finance, he taught himself how to create video and music professionally. He's an artist on the Post-Echo Music label, an active member of two arts groups (Moas Collective and Scenario Collective), and a member of the SOCO Co-Work community. He produces two podcasts professionally and operates in the Vista under his business name Tyler Digital.


The 2nd Act Film Festival is a production of The Jasper Project.


The Jasper Project is a project-oriented, multidisciplinary arts facilitator serving the greater Columbia and South Carolina arts community by providing space, resources, and collaborative engineering for emerging artists and new projects by established artists. For more information go to

Darling Dilettante: The 69th Annual Tony Awards By Haley Sprankle

tony award A day ago.

June 7, 2015.

The Tony Awards.

Other awards shows are grander, flashier, and better-funded, but what could be classier than celebrating the Great White Way in Radio City Musical Hall with the top tier performers of the day? Thespians far and wide await this day for the entire year… …And I missed it for rehearsal.

Melodramatically devastated, I recorded it and wallowed in self-pity for the rest of the evening. I couldn’t remember the last time I missed the Tonys since I had begun taking theatre seriously. I trudged to rehearsal with the desperate hope that maybe the powers that be would change their minds and cancel. They didn’t. Once I got there, I was immediately entranced. Music flowed as the newly gathered band rehearsed before the cast’s call time. The aura of the live music transported me back to my very first opening night in 2001 at Workshop Theatre in Gypsy, as most live orchestration does to me. I feel the excitement of the overture and re-experience the rush of adrenaline before my first performance—the magic of live theatre when each integral element comes together to make a whole.

… And that was just a rehearsal.

After it was all said and done, I went home, went to bed, and watched the Tonys in the morning. Sure, it wasn’t as exciting as it would have been live; I didn’t get to live-tweet it, much to my chagrin, and I already knew who won Best Leading Actress in a Musical (Go Kelli!), but the magic was still there. Somewhere, the spark of excitement in a little girl’s heart performing for the first time was still a part of my experience. That’s the magic of it all. That’s why we rehearse for countless hours. That’s why we perform multiple times a week. Somewhere, deep down, there’s that memory of when you first fell in love with theatre, whether as a performer or an audience member. Sounds cheesy, right?

As cliché as it may sound, it’s true. People often find serenity, solace, and even sanctuary in the theatre. For many, they were able to pursue their passions; for some, they were finally able to just be themselves.

We finally live in a time in which a kid can see musical theatre completely written by women win the Tony for the first time ever. When a kid can see an Asian woman take home a Tony for only the second time. When a kid can listen to another young girl sing a song about identity when so often kids are told their thoughts and feelings aren’t valid. We finally live in a time that a kid can see an openly LGBTQ+ person host the Tonys. We are so lucky that a young kid can see a woman, who has been nominated five times previously, continue to follow her dreams and finally take home a Tony. We are so lucky to finally live in this time.

Haley Sprankle

… And so am I.

I am incredibly lucky to have theatre in my life. It taught me about diversity from an early age. It taught me discipline. It taught me more than words can express. While I deigned to go to rehearsal in that selfish moment, I now look back and delight in the fact that I was able to create with other people who so wonderfully and passionately commit to their performances. This is what we do—we create so that some kid in the audience, some first-time performer, or even a veteran to the stage can experience the magic.

For a list of this year's Tony winners go here.

Be sure to catch Dream Girls at Trustus Theatre this summer! The show runs June 26-August 1. Go to for tickets.


Palmetto Opera, Lowe, Lenz, Krajewski & McClendon all help Jasper celebrate its fourth year of publication - Thursday Night!




We’re starting our fourth year of bringing Columbia in-depth local arts coverage in theatre, dance, visual arts, literary arts, music, and film, (and we’ll be adding design soon), and we’re celebrating with a multi-disciplinary release celebration to kick the year and the arts season off right.


Please join us on Thursday, September 18th at 5 pm at Vista Studios – Gallery 80808 at 808 Lady Street as we welcome the new issue of Jasper Magazine.


Classical oil paintings by internationally renowned realist Tish Lowe will set the stage in the main gallery.  Palmetto Opera’s artistic director, Walter Cuttino, will lead a one-night-only performance of highlights from Puccini’s La Bohème, hits from familiar musicals such as Phantom of the Opera and Carousel. .


The atrium will showcase a collaborative installation by fiber and installation artist Susan Lenz, who was Jasper’s 2012 Visual Artist of the Year and artist Michael Krajewski, who was Jasper’s first centerfold.  Their work, Threads: Gathering My Thoughts, will be a manifestation of the mental images and ideas that naturally flow through the human mind while engaged in the viewing of La Bohème.  Lenz’s tangle of unraveled, old threads will cascade in and out of suspended baskets mimicking the colors, complex plots, and emotions of a performance. Krajewski’s bohemian, pencil graffiti will literally express the connections between the visual, musical, dramatic, literary, and poetic world of a bygone, operatic world still dancing in the twenty-first century mind.  The arts exhibition will remain on view through Tuesday, September 30th.

Jasper adores the film Wade Sellers, our beloved film editor, made for Susan Lenz -- you can watch it here - and you should because it's really lovely.


Following the presentations by Palmetto Opera, multi-talented musical artist Tim McClendon, who is also featured in this issue of Jasper Magazine for his design work, will perform an impromptu set of music.  One Columbia will also be on hand to kick off their Cultural Passport program as will the Rosewood Arts Festival and the Jam Room Music Festival to share information about their upcoming events. The event is free and open to the public.


Jasper's Fave Non-Film Part of Indie Grits? Spork in Hand Puppet Slam -- Hands Down!

  Lyon Hill - Self Portrait


It's no secret that Jasper is a big fan of Indie Grits -- we love independent film! And while we'd just as soon have a film festival that was about film and film only, we admire the way the good folks at IG try to incorporate the whole community in their special week. AND, we are crazy about one specific part of the festival, the Spork in Hand Puppet Slam.

Why? Lots'o reasons, but the strongest being the opportunity to see three of Columbia's most creative minds demonstrate their incredibly eclectic, innovative, and just plain out-there abilities. Lyon Hill, Kimi Maeda, and Paul Kaufmann.

(Jasper wrote about Lyon Hill here and Kimi Maeda here.)

(And is it true that the strangely brilliant Alex Smith is also involved this year? Yes? No? Somebody?)

We lifted the below information info from the Indie Grits website about these folks:

Lyon Hill lives with his wife, Jenny Mae, and their son, Oliver, in Columbia, SC. He has been a puppetmaker and puppeteer with the Columbia Marionette Theatre since 1997. His paintings and puppets have been shown in numerous galleries over the years and his puppet shows have been performed at regional and national puppet festivals. Three of his short films are part of Heather Henson's Handmade Puppet Dreams film series, which are shown internationally

Kimi Maeda

Kimi Maeda is a theatre artist whose intimate visual performances cross disciplines and push boundaries.  Trained as a scenic and costume designer whose work has been recognized nationally, she is drawn to the versatility of puppetry and delights in the fact that it allows her to explore all of her diverse interests; from science to storytelling.  Kimi worked for several years as a puppeteer and set designer for the Columbia Marionette Theatre, writing and directing Snow White and The Little Mermaid. Her shadow-puppet performances The Crane Wife and The Homecoming are original adaptations of traditional Japanese folktales interwoven with her own bi-cultural experience growing up as a Japanese-American.


Paul Kaufmann

Paul Kaufmann is an actor, writer and artist.  His acting credits include three productions at New York’s famed LaMaMa E.T.C.: The Cherry Orchard Sequel (2008, NY Times critic’s pick), The System (2009) and the title role in this year’s Hieronymus, all written by Obie Award winner Nic Ularu. With Mr. Ularu, Paul has also toured Romania in The System (2006). In 2010, he performed at the Cairns Festival in Queensland, Australia in Dean Poynor’s H. apocalyptus, a zombie survival tale. He has performed the same role in the Piccolo Spoleto Festival (2011) and at The Studios of Key West. Also at TSKW: One Night Stand: 3, 4 and 5. Recent roles at Trustus Theatre include Dan in Next to Normal, Charles Guiteau in Assassins, Bill Fordham in August: Osage County and all roles in I Am My Own Wife.  For pacific performance project/east, Paul played Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2012) and Man in Pile in Mizu No Eki (The Water Station) (2010). A founding member of the SC Shakespeare Company, Paul has acted onstage, in television and in film (including Campfire Tales and Lyon Forrest Hill’s Junk Palace) for 40 years. His collages, assemblages and paintings have been exhibited at Anastasia and Friends gallery.  He’s thrilled to be a part of the Spork In Hand Puppet Slam. In May, Paul returns to Romania to perform at the Sibiu International Theatre Festival in a new production directed by Mr. Ularu.

To what they have to say above we'll just add this -- There is nothing like the experience of good adult puppetry theatre. It effects the viewer in ways that are personally, emotionally, and psychologically surprising. It can be intimate, evocative, and funny -- all in the same breath. It is touching and exhilarating. It can move you in ways you have never been moved before. It makes you laugh and it makes you think. Don't miss this beautiful experience.


Kimi Maeda

jasper watches


presented by Belle et Bête

Saturday, April 13th at 7pm & 9:30pm - $10 - Nickelodeon Theatre


-- Cindi Boiter, editor - Jasper Magazine

The Next Big Thing - by Cindi Boiter

I feel a little guilty using What Jasper Said to post my answers to The Next Big Thing, the hot new meme going around our community in which writers tag one another and ask that they write about their newest projects. But given that my newest project was published by Muddy Ford Press and that MFP underwrites Jasper Magazine, there's a sweet symbiosis to it that I cannot deny. Here's how it works -- after having been tagged (my thanks to Cassie Premo Steele for tagging me), the newly tagged author is required to self-interview, answering 10 pre-determined questions. After having answered these questions, she tags another five writers to do the same.

Here goes.

What is the working title of your book?

The Limelight -- A Compendium of Contemporary Columbia Artists, volume 1

What is the genre of your book?

Essay collection

Where did the idea come from?

Columbia, SC is a city that is reeling with a multitude of artists from different genres, particularly the literary arts. We have an inordinate number of professional writers here, yet we don't really have a sense of ourselves as a writing community -- though we are. I'd love to play some part in helping us to form a more unified community of writers. I want Columbia to be known as a "writers' town." To that end, I invited 18 local writers to contribute first person narrative essays about another local artist -- writer, visual artist, musician, dancer, theatre artist, whatever -- who had influenced them in some way.  I had the pleasure of editing the essays.

Clearly, one volume is not enough to represent the artists and authors we have here, so I decided to serialize the compendium with the plan of publishing it on an annual basis.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Columbia, SC essayists sing the praises of Columbia, SC artists.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

I issued the call for essays in the summer of 2012 with an autumn deadline. We went to press in February 2013.

Who or what inspired you to write it?

The community of Columbia artists.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

My book was published by Muddy Ford Press.

What other books would you compare this book to within your genre?

I don't really know of any other books with the same model.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Well, there are 36 "characters" if we include both the contributors and the subjects of their essays.

The essay I wrote was about the artist Blue Sky, so, naturally Clint Eastwood would play Blue. For me? Lisa Kudrow or Terri Garr.

Ed Madden would be played by Jon Cryer and James Dickey by Jon Voight.

Jeffrey Day? Woody Allen, of course. James Busby would be played by Channing Tatum (that's right, I said it.)

I'd like to cast Christopher Walken to play someone, but I'm not sure who ... a much older Chad Henderson, maybe? Just for kicks?

Patrick Wilson would play Kyle Petersen with Sheryl Crow playing Danielle Howle (though I like Danielle's voice far better).

Billy Murray would play the part of Stephen Chesley and the part of Susan Lenz would be played by Julia Louis Dreyfus.

Vicky Saye Henderson would play herself.

What else about your manuscript might pique the reader's interest?

Some of the first lines are spectacular. For example, poet Ray McManus opens his essay about Terrance Hayes with this, "When you're a boy growing up in rural South Carolina, and you want to be a poet, you should first learn to fight."

And ballet dancer Bonnie Boiter-Jolley's first line about her mentor Stacey Calvert is brutally honest when she says, "When I first met Stacey Calvert over a decade ago, she explained to me how being a dancer is a very selfish thing."

And there are 16 more.


That's the end of the interview and I have to admit that it was fun. In an effort to share the fun and keep this meme going I'm tagging Aida Rogers, Don McCallister, Debbie Daniel, Kristine Hartvigsen, and Susan Levi Wallach. And I'm inviting them all to post their answers to me so I can share them with our readers. I think there's something about Wednesdays and deadlines also as I was tagged on a Wednesday and told to blog on the next Wednesday. So, by next Wednesday, I hope to have even more Next Big Things to share.

Thanks for reading,