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2016-jays A really good year.

Every artist has one now and again. A period of time when the universe smiles upon you, life just seems to click, and you have the energy to get done all the jobs you need to do.

It’s a brilliant feeling. And we like spreading that brilliance around. That’s why we asked our readers to nominate the artists in their lives who have had one of those really good years. Then, our panel of experts took a look at the list of nominees and winnowed it down to the top three artists in each discipline who seemed to have the very best years of all.

Below, you’ll read about these 12* artists and have the opportunity to register your vote for which artist in each field should be named 2016 Jasper Artist of the Year.

Winners will be announced at the 2016 Jasper Artist of the Year Gala & Columbia Christmas Carol Lip Sync Championship on December  2nd.




Literary Arts

Carla Damron

Carla Damron’s most important work for the year was the publication of her literary novel, The Stone Necklace, by Story River Books, a division of USC Press. The Stone Necklace was also chosen as the One Book, One Community selection for February 2016 which led to multiple events and appearances, which gave Damron the opportunity to explore the intersection of art and social awareness with hundreds of people (including a presentation at the SC National Alliance for Mental Illness conference). Damron has completed approximately 30 book club presentations thus far, with more scheduled. Damron’s other works include a submission to the Jasper Project’s Marked By Water collection, monthly blogs on the Writerswhokill website, a quarterly column in the SC Social Workers newsletter, and the completion of her fifth novel, which is now in her agent’s hands.

Len Lawson

Len Lawson’s many poetry publications this year have included the following: “Briefcase of Little Tortures,” in Up the Staircase Quarterly, “Down South,” in Charleston Currents; “I Write My Body Eclectic” in [PANK] Magazine; “Feel the Vibration: Marky Mark & the Funky Bunch, A Retrospective” in Yellow Chair Review; “Church Fan,” “Niger (Or the Country Missing a Letter,” and “When a White Man in Camden Tells You to Act Like  You Got Some Sense,” in Drunk in a Midnight Choir;  “Google Search for Black Lives Matter” in Winter Tangerine Review; “ The Black Life Anthem: Unarmed Black People Killed by Police or Dying in Police Custody Since 2012*” in Free Times; “For the Dead Whose Caskets Flowed Out of Graves After the South Carolina Flood,” “12 Year Old Inside Me Seeks a Father Figure,” “Uneasy Dreams of a Presidential Hopeful,” and “The Body is a Cave” in Connotation Press; “  George Zimmerman as Jack in Titanic Painting Trayvon Martin as Rose” and “Krack” in Public Pool; and, “The Invitation” in Get Free Books.

Ray McManus

This year, along with R. Mac Jones, Ray McManus co-edited the anthology Found Anew: Writers Responding to Photographic Histories which was published by USC Press and nominated for the Lillian Smith Book Award. He published the following poems: “Caveman Survey,” “How Boys are Measured,” and “Manspread,” in The Good Men Project; “For the Hardest to Reach Places” in Prairie Schooner; “Dog Box,” “Disturbing Remains,” and “Staying in the Truck” in Hard Lines: Rough South Poetry from USC Press; “When a Dog Comes Back Rabid,” “We Were All Dead Once,” and “Natural Selection,” in Red Truck; “Ask Your Doctor,” “Origin of Species,” “In the Absence of Protection,” and “The Descent of Man” in The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature; and, “Ruts” in The State of the Heart Volume II, from USC Press. McManus participated in community projects that included the Tri-District Arts Consortium, The Carolina Master Scholars program, Serious Young Women Writers Workshop, Poetry Out Loud Region II Competition, High School and Middle School ABC Site Training, Word Fest Charlotte, and the Center for Oral Narrative and gave readings at Festival for the Book in Nashville; Pat Conroy Lit Fest in Beaufort: LILA Author Event in Charleston; Book Tavern in Augusta GA; Deckle Edge Literary Festival as well as Mind Gravy in Columbia; the Upcountry Lit Fest; Two Writers Walk into a Bar in Durham NC; and, the Scuppernong Book Store, Greensboro NC.




Visual Arts

Kendal Jason

Kendall Jason's work this year has included quite a few multidisciplinary performance art pieces including the following at The 701 CCA South Carolina Biennial 2015 comprised of Speak to Me: "I've been mad for fucking years, absolutely years, been over the edge for yonks, been working me buns off for bands..." as well as, "I've always been mad, I know I've been mad, like the most of us...very hard to explain why you're mad, even if you're not mad" and Far away across the field, The tolling of the iron bell, Calls the faithful to their knees. To hear the softly spoken magic spells, both with reconstituted performance costumes; Lunatic on the Grass and

Breathe, a single channel video. Jason also created the "Goin Down the Road Feelin Bad" performance at Tapp’s Arts Center In conjunction with Michaela Pilar Brown, and The Transitioner Episode 1- "Who Do You Love"- 3 night performance at 701 CCA. For the Da Da Desque Exhibition 701 CCA, he created The Bags (50lbs Zombie Drawings), The Uniform (Custom Uniform for Work and Play), Episode I, Who Do You Love (Live video), and Ol' Man. He performed at Artista Vista as The Transitioner Episode 2, producing Corn hole Bags (50lbs Zombie Drawings), Extra Large Corn hole boards (Fear Vs. Fan Zombie Cheerleader drawings), and Zombie Drawings.

Michaela Pilar Brown

Among the programs that have occupied Michaela Pilar Brown’s time of late are Summer Arts Residencies in both Sedona Arts Center in Sedona, Arizona as well as one in Kunstlerwerkgemeinschaft Kaiserslautern, Germany. She also served as a visiting artist at Claflin University, Central Piedmont Community College, and at Tapp’s Arts Center, here in Columbia. She was featured in a film by Roni Nicole Henderson as well as one by Wade Sellers, and her work, Speak No’, 2011 was acquired by the Columbia Museum of Art. Her exhibitions included 15-Jahre-Künstlerwerkgemeinschaft volksbank Kaiserslautern; Artfields in Lake City; a solo exhibition and site specific performance, I’m a boss my house, at If Art Gallery; a two-woman show and site specific installation and performance called Making Time Marking Forever at Carrack Contemporary Art in Durham, NC; The Mother Wound site specific performance at Spelman College in Atlanta; Remix – Themes and Variations in African American Art at the Columbia Museum of Art; Wet Hot Southern Summer Group Exhibition at The Southern Gallery in Charleston; Where They Cut Her I Bleed – Site Specific Installation/ Solo Exhibition and Performance at Tapp’s Arts Center; The Space Between – Solo Exhibition and Performance at McMaster Gallery, University of South Carolina; Ruptured Silence Multimedia Performance and Collaboration with Wideman Davis Dance and Darion McCloud at Drayton Hall, University of South Carolina; Liquor and Watermelon Will Kill You – Solo Exhibition at Rebecca Randall Bryan Art Gallery in Conway; and Red Dirt and Doilies – Solo Exhibition at Sumter County Gallery of Art in Sumter.

Lauren Chapman

Among Lauren Chapman’s accomplishments this year was winning second place in the 61st Annual USC Student Art exhibition for the painting Still, and her painting The Flood was featured at the ArtFields Festival 2016 in Lake City as well as being published in the 2016 ArtFields catalog. In May, Chapman had a joint exhibition at Tapp’s Art Center and in August she showcased 25 oil paintings in her first solo exhibition and artist talk, titled Repetitions at the Pearson Lakes Art Center in Okoboji, IA. Chapman was awarded the Yaghjian Studio arts scholarship at USC and received a fully funded art residency at the international center for the arts in Monte Castello, Italy which she attended in June. Finally, Chapman’s oil painting the white rabbit was selected for the "Figure Out" Planned Parenthood exhibition in August.




Music Arts

Mark Rapp

If there’s a linchpin of Columbia’s jazz scene, it’s probably trumpet (and didgeridoo) player Mark Rapp. In addition to balancing a steady stream of gigs around the city with his constant national and international travel, Rapp has kept busy orchestrating a steady stream of recordings, including a long overdue set from jazz patriarch Skipp Pearson and two efforts under his The Song Project Series with guitarist Derek Bronston. And, as part of the Harbison Theatre Performance Incubator Series, Rapp teamed up with professional choreographer Stephanie Wilkins to create Woven, a unique collaboration that combines jazz and contemporary dance that stands as one of the most innovative original performance pieces created in Columbia in recent years.

Dylan Dickerson

Although he’s one of the most affable and easygoing artists in town, when Dylan Dickerson steps on stage with his band Dear Blanca and starts playing music that person seems to slip away. With his post-punk-meets-Hendrix approach to playing guitar and an unadorned bawl of a voice, Dickerson stands clearly out among his peers. His lyrics, pondering and painstaking, feel like anthems for twentysomethings who want to make it plain that their disaffection and distress should never be mistaken for apathy.

Dear Blanca started out slowly but over the past year seems poised to make the next step, releasing two EPs--one produced by Triangle veteran Scott Solter (Mountain Goats, St. Vincent, Spoon), the other by Charleston’s producer-of-the-moment Ryan “Wolfgang” Zimmerman of Brave Baby--that hold to Dickerson’s idiosyncratic vision of folkie Townes Van Zandt drinking at a bar with D. Boon of the Minuteman while proving that Dear Blanca is a band capable of making music every bit as captivating as their heroes.

Justin Daniels

As much as Columbia has begun to champion its hip-hop veterans like FatRat da Czar and Preach Jacobs, there’s no denying that much of the energy of the genre still lies with a powerful younger generation that is still forging its own identity. Of the newer crop of emcees in the Capital City, Justin Daniels, who raps under the moniker H3RO, is one of the best. His December release Between the Panels, despite its DIY sensibility, plays like a masterclass in how to embrace youthful swagger with a keen sense of history. His comic book motifs and love of pure bars harkens back to Wu Tang Clan; the joyful soul samples and backpack rap self-consciousness to Lauryn Hill and early-period Kanye West; and his charismatic exuberance not unlike current rapper-of-the-moment Chance the Rapper. Daniels is still hustling, but his past year suggests the sky is the limit.




Theatre Arts

Baxter Engle

A perennial behind-the-scenes magic maker, Baxter Engle has served over the past year in the following productions: Marie Antoinette (Sound Design); Blithe Spirit (Scenic Design); Peter and the Star Catcher (Scenic and Props Design); American Idiot (Scenic and Video Design); and, Anatomy of a Hug (Scenic and Video Design.) In addition to handling the creative aspects of design, Engle is hands-on throughout the productions from conception to the birth of the show.

Robert Harrelson

The consummate theatre man, Robert Harrelson is the executive director and owner of his own company, and all the hard work and minutiae that implies, with On Stage Productions, a non-profit theatre company in West Columbia. This year, Harrelson directed Little Shop of Horrors, Twisted Carol, Miracle in Memphis, Crimes of the Heart, and Oz: Dorothy’s Return, which he also wrote. He also teaches ongoing acting classes.

Hunter Boyle

In January 2016 Hunter Boyle performed in a staged reading of Composure, a screenplay by Jason Stokes at Trustus’ Side Door Theatre, playing “Pitchfork” Ben Tillman and several other characters. Next, he performed at Trustus Theatre, where he is a Company member, in Peter and the Star Catcher, playing the roles of Mrs. Bumbrake and the mermaid called Teacher. Following that, Boyle performed with the South Carolina Shakespeare Company, where he is also a company member, playing Sir John Falstaff in The Merry Wives of Windsor. Boyle taught several Master Classes in Musical Theatre (how to tell a story through song) and Acting (how to develop/train your voice effectively for stage work) for the Trustus’ Apprentice Company, as well as a total of five classes (three classes in the fall and two classes in the spring) of Introduction to the Theatre at USC Aiken. Boyle is currently a member in good standing of the Actor’s Equity Association-the union of professional actors in the US, as well as the Screen Actor’s Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists in the US. As of the nomination cut-off date, Boyle is currently rehearsing the role of Dr. Scott in The Rocky Horror Picture Show at Trustus Theatre, being directed by Scott Blanks.




(*The 2016 JAY in Dance will not be awarded this year.)

Haiku Death Match, or Learning about Creativity with Middle School Writers at Tri-DAC by Ed Madden

Photo by Lindsay Green-McManus  

This afternoon, it’s round two of Haiku Death Match.  The topics are deodorant and cheese.  The first round included haiku on Beyoncé and the beard of Darien Cavanaugh, one of the writing instructors.  The instructors write all sorts of topics on strips of paper—not just deodorant and cheese but French fries, love, bad smells, puppies.  These topics are drawn from a bucket.  The teams have 2 minutes to write.  They have given themselves team names—the Argonauts, NerdHerd 3.0, the Curators, Tomatoes. When time is called, someone from each team reads the haiku aloud—twice—for the judges.


Right, judges.  First there is the Panel of Death, a collection of mostly older students, who vote on the haiku.  Someone inevitably brings up questions of accuracy: what was the syllable count? how many syllables in “easily”? One reader explains that when he read: “Odor: / say your prayers now,” “Odor” was the end of the second line. Someone else shouts out: “That’s enjambment!” (Yes! They got the lesson on line breaks in poetry!)


If there is a tie, the decision goes to the Titans (the instructors).  And if there’s a tie among the Titans, well, bring out the Kraken—i.e. fiction instructor Cavanaugh, who will roar appropriately then vote thumbs up or thumbs down.  “Kra-ken! Kra-ken! Kra-ken!” they chant.


At some point, we usually ask that the haiku be sung. For clarity, of course.




At the Tri-District Arts Consortium, or Tri-DAC, I’m teaching creative writing along with a staff that continually amazes me and makes me laugh.  (And luckily, someone is usually ready to make a coffee run when it’s the needful thing.) The three-week summer program includes music, theatre, dance, visual arts, and creative writing.  Students audition to participate.  In creative writing we have about 50 lively and engaged students, rising 6th graders to rising 9th graders, some who have been here all four years.


In the Creative Writing Program (see our website here), practicing South Carolina writers teach essentials of creative writing from page to stage with exercises that promote creative development, revision, and performance. Along the way, students learn more than just how to become better writers—they also develop skills in effective communication, empathy, teamwork, and confidence.


Students in creative writing this year are taking poetry classes with me and with Betsy Breen, a poet who teaches at Hammond School; prose classes with Darien Cavanaugh, named the Jasper Artist of the Year a few years ago after he founded the Columbia Broadside Project; and classes in flash fiction and memoir with visiting artists Justin Brouckaert, a recent USC MFA graduate; and Carl Jenkinson, who teaches writing now at the Moore School of Business.  Past instructors and guest artists have included: Will Garland, Lindsay Green-McManus, Jonathan Maricle, Wendy Ralph, and Mark Sibley-Jones (who now teaches at the SC Governor’s School for the Arts). The whole endeavor is directed by Ray McManus, a poet on faculty at USC-Sumter who has an extraordinary ability to hold the attention of 50 rowdy middle schoolers.  Haiku Death Match was his idea for the late afternoons in the last week, when the instructors are getting a little punchy and the students are at their giddiest.  After two rigorous weeks of classes and daily writing activities, it’s a fun group activity that is collaborative and, despite the silliness, one that has students thinking about what makes a poem good, what makes a poem work.



Ray McManus - photo by Lindsay Green-McManus


Dr. Ray’s 8-10 Rules of Writing


  1. Do not ask yourself if you should disturb the universe. Instead ask yourself how.


  1. Rhyme is fine some of the time, but mostly it’s stupid.


  1. Editing is not the same as revising.


  1. No senseless writing.


  1. There is no such thing as writer’s block. There is no such thing as writer’s block. There is no such thing as writer’s block.


  1. When in doubt, say something outrageous.


  1. Typing is not writing.


  1. In writing there is no right or wrong, there is only weak or strong.


The students know these rules.  They can recite them.  In unison.  With enthusiasm.




Some of us have been working with Tri-DAC for years, some for the first time this year—but every year is really a first time, as we learn to work with each other and with a range of new and returning students, adapting our exercises to what other instructors are doing, and maybe trying to emphasize lessons students are learning in other classes. (Besides, if we reuse an exercise, returning students will let us know: “we did that last year!”)


Along with my class, my job the past few years has been the mini-showcase, a performance that falls at the end of the second week. Each art discipline performs during the showcase, usually highlighting their oldest students, especially the four-year students.  I’ve tried to create choral projects, where the students’ voices echo and converse with each other around a central theme or set of prompts.  One year we did prayers and curses.  (The entire audience moaned when one writer said, “May there be no presents under your tree.”)  One year it was a medley of poems about what we keep and how we worship, responding to poems by Naomi Shihab Nye (“Different Ways to Pray”) and Carlos Drummond De Andrade (“The Elephant”).


This year the students read two poems from Welsh poet Jonathan Edwards’ lovely book, My Family and Other Superheroes—“My Family in a Human Pyramid,” in which Edwards imagines his family building an impossible human pyramid, with his diapered godson teetering on top of his head, and “Building My Grandfather,” in which he imagines building his grandfather, one piece, and one story at a time.  (Read more about Edwards’ poetry here and here.)  So we began to imagine our families as soccer teams and cheerleading squads, as the cast of a play or the staff of NASA (with Grandma flying to the moon with her dogs, because she never goes anywhere without them).  And we, too, began to imagine building our grandparents, one piece, and one story at a time.


Here’s “Building My Grandmother” by Zach Frueauf, a rising 8th grader at Carolina Springs Middle School.


Building My Grandmother

by Zach Frueauf


We buy parts with the fifty dollars she gave me for my birthday.

We put her together steadily until we get to the knees,

they are rusty because she has done so much farm work.

We fill her lungs with the smoke she has inhaled from cigarettes.

We fill her heart with a new husband

to make up for the ones she had lost in the past.

We fill her brain with the music of her guitar,

and we put her hands on with care so she can play it.

Student Zach Frueauf - photo by Lindsay Green-McManus


In Breen’s class, the young writers wrote startlingly rich poems about places they’d been after reading South Carolina poet Terrance Hayes’s “New York Poem” (lightly edited for middle school students), and they produced amazing mythic versions of their own births after reading Alma Luz Villaneuva’s “Indian Summer Ritual.”  (One of our twin writers, Isaac Hill, wrote, in one of the loveliest birth poems, “I let Joe go first / He kicked me in the head. / It left no mark.”)  They also learned about showing not telling, about the value of specificity, while writing poems after reading Edward Hirsch’s “Cotton Candy.”  Breen asked them to write a poem about the last time they saw someone that they care about—“someone you haven’t seen in a long time.”


Here’s “Sharing a Coke” by Mara Lind, a rising 9th grader from River Bluff High School.


Sharing a Coke

by Mara Lind


I didn’t recognize you,

with a black shirt, dirty hair, and stubble.

You opened a coke but didn’t offer me one,

so I got my own,

sipping slowly.

Someone brought a radio and

the uncles danced with aunts.

My drink fizzed warm in my

stomach while we hid behind

hay stacks. You didn’t talk much.

I asked about school and

you answered.

When saying goodbye,

I had to stand tall to hug you,

and the pop tab fell between my fingers.

Mara Lind with Ed Madden - photo by Lindsay Green-McManus


Cavanaugh gets the students to create their own biographies based on a poem by George Ella Lyon, “Where I’m From,” as well as wacky little nonfiction pieces based on comedian Sara Silverman’s “Two-Minute Index” featured on the sides of Chipotle cups in their “Cultivating Thought” series. These are crazy fun.




Two of the boys are always farting.  One little girl has the whiniest voice I’ve ever heard, almost like fingernails on a chalkboard. If we don’t marshal them into Haiku Death Match, the room can devolve into arm-wrestling and discussions of how to talk like Yoda.  Matthew wants to show us card tricks.  Samantha drew a picture of me. Trevor tried to explain Pokemon Go to me. One day Scott brought his entire library of Animorphs books. On birthdays, we often have cupcakes.


It’s exhausting and exhilarating and every year I leave so thrilled to have been part of it.


And Friday night, July 15, we’ll have our final program.  The music and creative writing programs will perform together at 6:30 at the Lexington One Performing Arts Center.  Theatre and dance and visual arts have their final performances and presentations Saturday at Richland Northeast High School.


TriDAC is in its 31st year, the creative writing program in its 21st, the last 11 directed by McManus  To find out more about the creative writing program at Tri-DAC, check our website at





Summer 6 I often joke about how I didn’t grow up with poetry in my house so I had to steal it.

If only it were a joke.

But I always had music, for better or worse, to define the world I was trying to live in or run from. Looking back, I can see how there were six bands who served as a catalyst and a touch stone for discovery that ultimately shaped me as a person and a writer, for better or worse, still living, still running. This list is no way a “best of” list or an argument for the greatest. There were many other bands, then and now, and millions of songs in between. Just six bands and my attempt to break everything I touched to see how it works on the inside. I have forgotten more than I remember.



Let me start off by saying I have no real affinity for AC/DC with Brian Johnson. Yes, Back in Black was an album I cut some teeth on, probably French-kissed a girl while it played in the background. But it was sixth grade. We were on a fishing trip in North Georgia. I went with my best friend Kevin. His brother Brian and his brother’s friend Bryan were older and much cooler than we were and Bryan played Highway to Hell on this giant boom box at the back of the camper. I was in love with the first riff. It didn’t take long to fall in love with the rest: High Voltage, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, Let There Be Rock, and Powerage. The shrill in Bon Scott’s growl oozing sex. The hard driving guitar of Angus Young running around like a madman in a school boy outfit. Malcolm Young holding steady on a kind of cool I didn’t think could be possible. The rest is periphery.

I can’t hear “If You Want Blood (You’ve Got It)” without thinking of the back of a camper, or the backseat of a Chevy Nova, or a pool table in a basement. There was the time I sat in the principal’s office while he questioned how I could wear an AC/DC t-shirt and a cross on a necklace around my neck. The lyrics were fresh in my mind then, as they are today:


It's animal

Livin' in the human zoo


The shit that they toss to you

Feelin' like a christian

Locked in a cage

Thrown to the lions

On the second page

-- from If You Want Blood (You’ve Got It) by AC/DC


Give me “Riff Raff,” “Love Hungery Man,” or “What’s Next to the Moon” any day. AC/DC is for transforming the awkward preteen. For getting high, for punching concrete, for the courage to fuck everything. See also: Led Zeppelin, CCR, and Black Sabbath.


-->Video: If You Want Blood (You've Got It) by AC/DC


the clash

The Clash

Stuck in rural Lexington county with nowhere to go, no prospects for a future, just single-file lines to football practice for nothing, to baseball practice for nothing, to plow or be plowed under for nothing. But then “Janie Jones” is cranking, and suddenly I’m not afraid to put my mouth where my muscle is, and push back against the man.

I’m 16, driving down dirt roads or through Main St blasting that first album as loud as an 85 Toyota standard speaker system could handle. I wore that cassette out. It broke somewhere on “(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais.” Of course Give ‘Em Enough Rope and London Calling got its fair share of wear too. But not like that first album. Not like “I’m so Bored with the USA,” “Hate and War,” and “White Riot.”  I’m not sure what turned me on more, Mick Jones’ riffs or Joe Strummer’s ethos, but what I heard in that band shaped the spectrum of pretty much who I am today -- the punk aesthetic, the smooth dub, the charge of the DIY politic. I’m quite sure I misappropriated all of these things (perhaps still do), but as Joe said, “sometimes you have to be a little bit stupid.”

What The Clash taught me was simple: a) the old men in the factories want to steal away the best years of our lives, and b) “he who fucks nuns, will later join the church.”


All the power's in the hands

Of people rich enough to buy it

While we walk the street

Too chicken to even try it …


…Are you taking over

or are you taking orders?

Are you going backwards

Or are you going forwards?

-- from White Riot by The Clash


It’s hard enough to be a teenager, much less to be a teenager in a wasteland of fields and old buildings where old men get their kicks by using what little authority they had to bully down change. I wanted nothing more than a riot. A riot of my own. See also: The Sex Pistols, The Ramones, The Buzzcocks, and Wire.


-->Video: White Riot by The Clash



Hüsker Dü (and the Pixies… and Sonic Youth)

Maybe it was because I worked around chainsaws and wood chippers so much. I got to where I loved hearing noise and trying to make music out of it. I didn’t know then that I was embarking on the very practice that would make me a poet. I was just bored. Chainsaws and chippers have three distinct pitches: idle, rev, and bite. I could play some mean throttle, work the revs in succession. But bite was tricky. I was probably hard to work with.

New Day Rising by Hüsker Dü came out in in 1985, but I discovered it (and them) in 89, shortly after the Pixies Surfer Rosa and Sonic Youth’s Daydream Nation came out. I would hang out at this place called the shed. Bryan and two other guys, Doug and Scot, would jam there. They were good. It was fun. And now we’re deaf. But some nights I’d come by and only Doug would be there. We’d talk about music, the punk scene of the 70’s. Doug was going to USC. At the time I didn’t know anyone who went to college. I certainly didn’t know anyone cool going to college. He had cool music and he hooked me up. This was a wonderful year of noise and occasional screaming, but I’ll be honest, I don’t remember much of it. Smoked out in the whir behind a wall of sound. I remember blasting “Terms of Psychic Warfare” in Glen’s truck on our way back to the store, towards the end of our lunch break. A memory that I just can’t let go.

And whereas Sonic Youth and the Pixies played a bit more lyrically, Hüsker Dü was straight forward with their sound. Straight up guitar, bass, and drums; sometimes I couldn’t even hear Mould singing. The sound was primal, swift, and hardcore, wrapped in a welcoming fuzz. Like two guys railing against the county on a Friday night in a burned out shack on a dirt road. Sometimes my ears still ring and I can’t remember why.

But I remember this: if you stand up in the breakroom and yell “THESE ARE THE TERMS,” no one will know what you are talking about.

I guess they couldn’t hear Mould singing either.


It's not about my politics

Something happened way too quick

Bunch of men who played it sick

They divide and conquer


It's all here before your eyes

Safety is a big disguise

That hides among the other lies

They divide and conquer

-- from Divide and Conquer by Hüsker Dü


-->Video: Divide and Conquer by Hüsker Dü




Somewhere before the late 80’s – early 90’s, I thought there was singular definition to being Southern – a truck, a pair of boots, a Billy Ray Cyrus, a Brooks and Dunn. And I raged against it. Too much. I needed something to balance it all out. I need something to expand my definition of the world. I needed less “us vs. them” and more “us.” R.E.M. did for me and more. I came late to the party. Document had just been released, and the single “The One I Love” was getting some airplay. And while everyone in my circle was railing against it, and the band for that matter, because they thought it sucked, I was listening to Murmur, Reckoning, Fables of the Reconstruction, and Life’s Rich Pageant. I didn’t care what my friends at the time were saying. This band had poetry. It redefined (for me) what it meant to be Southern – what it meant to be us. Even well into the 90’s and into the 21st century, whether floating in a pool or singing on the porch at Tim’s house, I felt like I belonged, as if I could begin the begin again, like I was included for a reason and not by accident.

But it wasn’t just the music of R.E.M. that moved me, or the poetry of Stipe, or the inclusion and celebration and understanding of the necessity to queer the world, it was the further exploration of so many other bands musicians I had never heard of at the time: Tom Waits, Patti Smith, Velvet Underground, Gram Parsons, T. Rex, Flying Burritos, etc. Just as my musical taste blossomed, so did my understanding of the fucked up world I was living in. Through Stipe, I found a voice that walked unafraid. Through the band, I found a harmony that I didn’t think could exist. And suddenly I found myself in college no longer ashamed of where I came from, though still angry at politicians and baby boomers (that seems to never change), and perhaps most important of all, to stop trying to always make sense. To “believe in coyotes and time as an abstract” and to “explain the change, the difference between what you want and what you need” (I Believe).  Dark and light, sense and no sense, pop and folk and at times heavy, political and apolitical, queer and straight, mainstream and underground, quirky and sublime, R.E.M. is convergence. They carried that from Murmur to Collapse Into Now with a few songs here and there that should have never been cut for an album. But that is part of the brilliance. The staying power. The “holy shit I can’t believe this band is still playing and still has it” power. I am grateful to Doug for plugging me into it.


Disturbance at the Heron House

A stampede at the monument

To liberty and honor under the honor roll


Just a gathering of the grunts and greens

The cogs and grunts and hirelings

A meeting of a mean idea to hold


When feeding time has come and gone

They'll lose their heart and head for home

Try to tell us something we don't know

-- from Disturbance at the Heron House by R.E.M.


-->Video: Driver 8 by R.E.M.


 The Pogues

I wasn’t born punk. That, I grew in to as mater of necessity to minimize confusion. However, I was born Irish, and I grew up in typical Irish American, working class house with lots of God in it.  But growing up Irish in the South presents its own sense of confusion. Hell, most don’t even know they are Irish beyond their last name, and if they do, they automatically think they are Scots-Irish. Or worse, when everyone saw Braveheart and suddenly wanted to be Scottish. I remember pointing to my Irish flag license plate on my truck (I forget the context), and a guy asked me if that was the “gay flag or did I pull for the University of Miami.” Just absolute cluelessness.

Doug told me I’d like the Pogues. It came out of a conversation when we were talking about this videotape I had of England in the 70’s and the birth of the Punk Rock movement. In the video, jumping up and down in a skating rink at a Clash concert, was a young Shane MacGowan, ears and all, but most of his teeth still intact. From the moment I first heard Red Roses for Me and Rum Sodomy & the Lash and If I should Fall from the Grace of God and Hell’s Ditch (yes, I left out Peace and Love on purpose), I was in love all over again. This is Irish music (that didn’t sound anything like the Planxty and Phil Coulter my dad listened to) and punk merging together. Where the fuck-it-all and die-hard could co-exist. Where pain and misery could co-exist in celebration. Also whiskey and pints. Lots of whiskey and pints. Where the roughshod could stand up and say drink with me for the love of it, for the love of all of it. For the empty pocket. For the blisters. For the friends I had to bury (first Kevin, then Glen). For the birth of my son. For the birth of my daughters. For the divorce. For the marriage. For still having empty pockets. For everyday I’ve lived despite it all.  Fuck all. All of it. Fuck it.


I have cursed, bled and sworn

Jumped bail and landed up in jail

Life has often tried to stretch me

But the rope always was slack

And now that I've a pile

I'll go down to the Chelsea

I'll walk in on my feet

But I'll leave there on my back


I am going, I am going

Any which way the wind may be blowing

I am going, I am going

Where streams of whiskey are flowing

-- from Streams of Whiskey by The Pogues


-->Video: Waxie's Dargle by The Pogues (lo-fi quality)


See Shane MacGowan and the Popes. See Flogging Molly. See Dropkick Murphys.


 uncle tupelo

Uncle Tupelo (+ Son Volt + Wilco + Whiskeytown + Trampled by Turtles?)

The 90’s started to die somewhere around 94-95. The rest of the world has been slowly dying since. It was easier in my youth to fight against everything older and established simply because all those things seemed hell bent on ignoring who we were and where we wanted to be. Bush (#2) came to the Whitehouse, and hell followed with him. That hell we still live in today. Somewhere in the middle I had this cd called No Alternative, a mix of alternative bands that were breaking through. On that cd was Uncle Tupelo. Doug said he thought I would like them, that I can’t be angry all the time. So I unplugged, bought Anodyne. And in doing so, I found connected to the country that I was brought up to believe didn’t exist. From fields in Minnesota to the dusty heartland to the triangle of North Carolina (which might as well have been just as far), there was a connection.  Uncle Tupelo and, by extension, Son Volt and, by extension, Wilco and, by extension, Whiskeytown and, by extension, Ryan Adams and, by extension, newer bands like The Avett Brothers and (one of my new favorites) Trampled by Turtles started to shape a better narrative for me. It was narrative still fueled by the restless punk (think Uncle Tupelo’s remake of the Stooges’ “I Wanna Be Your Dog”) and the desperate need to speak (think “Whiskey Bottle,” “Graveyard Shift,” and “Chickamauga.” But there was a new current of inclusion for the backroad, the small town, the desolate and the matter of fact. And where R.E.M. helped me to secure and balance, these bands did too.

Influenced by the Americana of our parents, Uncle Tupelo (and the like) helped carve a space for my generation to connect and shape. Whereas I wanted to rebel against the established themes from country music (and by some extension The Grateful Dead) that didn’t seem to represent me or who I wanted to be, Uncle Tupelo (and the like) helped me to see more of the similarities than I was at first willing to admit and what I had conveniently forgotten. And it was simple. A banjo. A fiddle. A mandolin. A guitar (both acoustic and electric). Melody. Harmony. A retold story with young characters facing modern challenges. The celebration of the success and failures of those challenges and all the shakedowns in between. This became the folk movement of my generation. A movement uncorrupted by coffee houses and big orange couches in New York City. A movement free from corporate sponsorship. You could find these bands in small venues packed with college students under a cloud of smoke where everyone was, simply put, getting down. This was, and still is, a welcome escape from so much of the cookie-cutter bullshit we hear today. Thank you Jay Farrar and Jeff Tweedy. Thank you Ryan Adams and Caitlin Cary. Thank you boys from Minnesota.  You’ve helped make so much of my world relevant.

So much of my life I spent running from ghosts or trying to tackle them. So much of my life I spent charged and angry with what I was born with and into. And because of Uncle Tupelo (and the like) I’m not so angry as I am charged. Rather than running from those ghosts, I’m singing with them.


Appalachian, so patient

The lessons we've traveled

As soon as we're out, we're kicking our way back in


Fighting fire with unlit matches

From our respective trenches

No authority can clean up this mess we're in


A miracle might point the way

To solutions we're after

And avert our chronic impending disaster


Chickamauga's where I've been

Solitude is where I'm bound

I don't ever wanna taste these tears again

from Chickamauga by Uncle Tupelo


See also: Old Crow Medicine Crow, Langhorne Slim, The Jayhawks, anything but Mumford and Sons


-->Video (sort of): Whiskey Bottle by Uncle Tupelo




Ray a

Ray McManus is the author of three books of poetry, Punch, Red Dirt Jesus, and Driving through the country before you are born, and co-editor (with R. Mac Jones) of Found Anew. His poetry and prose have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. Ray is an associate professor of English at the University of South Carolina Sumter.

Poems Flow with Your Cup of Morning Joe via River Poems from One Columbia and the office of the Poet Laureate

  one columbia coffee


Local poets come together to create coffee sleeve poems about the historic flood and rivers of Columbia for national poetry month this April.


In conjunction with One Columbia for Arts and History, Ed Madden, the city of Columbia’s poet laureate, has created a project titled River Poems. This project will focus on bringing poetry to the people of Columbia during the entire month of April. Since 1996, April has been national poetry month, and one of the tasks of the poet laureate is to promote the literary arts. “As a project for the poet laureate, last year and this year both, we put poems on the buses. We had already decided the theme this year would be the river, because it is the theme for Indie Grits, but I think the flood added additional urgency to the theme,” says Madden.


Along with the bus project, the second project this year was to put the poems on coffee sleeves. “We’ve been trying to think of ways to promote poetry in unexpected places, so coffee sleeves felt like a really obvious place to put poetry,” says Madden. “You can drink your morning cup and read beautiful literature.”


Seven local writers came together for this wonderful opportunity to spread literature around the city. The writers include, Jennifer Bartell, Betsy Breen. Jonathan Butler, Bugsy Calhoun, Monifa Lemons Jackson, Len Lawson, Ray McManus, and Madden himself. After sending out a limited call to those artists to create a piece of poetry eight lines or fewer, each poem was then stamped on thousands of coffee sleeves that will be distributed at independent coffee shops around Columbia. Including both Drip locations, and the Wired Goat.


“I think the idea of the coffee sleeves is so smart. Columbia has a healthy relationship with the arts, especially the performing arts. But the city gives a lot of love to the fine arts, the design arts, and the literary arts that has thrived here for quite some time.  You’d expect that from a capital city to a certain extent. But what is unique in Columbia is that the art scene is so diverse, and there is a growing respect for that diversity. The literary scene is no exception. There is a little something for everyone here. I hope that resonates,” says Ray McManus, poet and author of the poem Mud.


Each of the eight poems centers around the idea of the river that runs through Columbia. This idea ties in with the theme of this year’s Indie Grits Festival, which is Waterlines as well as The Jasper Project’s multi-disciplinary project Marked by the Water, which will commemorate the first anniversary of the floods in October. There are also a few featured poems that represent the voices of people effected by the historic flood which ran through the city last October. Overall, each poems creates a sense of what the rivers mean to each poet, and how in many ways people are still mending together the pieces almost six months later.


When writing her poem titled What Stays, Betsy Breen was thinking back to a particular image she recollects from the flood. “I was thinking about the flood in October, and all the debris that washed up during that time. I have a particular image in my mind of a part of Gills Creek that I pass every morning on the way to work. The week after the rain stopped, it was filled with both keepsakes and trash. I was thinking of that when I wrote this poem,” says Breen.


It was almost opposite for McManus, who says most of his inspiration almost always comes from books and projects. “I love exploring directions that I didn’t otherwise intend. I’ve always been drawn to rivers; the way they perform; the way they’re always moving. And we depend on them more than we realize, especially in the most basic of functions. We grow from rivers, from the mud of rivers. At some point they become a part of who we are,” says McManus.


National poetry month begins on April 1. Columbia is sure to be celebrating all month with something to read as people drink their coffee and travel to work. “We are always looking for more ways to promote the arts, and I believe this year that includes a pretty unique project,” says Madden.


Don’t forget to pick up your cup of morning joe this month to feel the inspiration of poetry. Breen reminds us that “National Poetry month is much larger than this poem or project, of course, and I do hope people pay attention to all the different kinds of poetry around them.”

-- Alivia Seely

Where is Your Next Stop? Launching Poets on The Comet This Sunday, November 1!


Rosa Rode the Bus Too A revolution began on a city bus. Where is your next stop? - Len Lawson

By: Literary Arts Editor and City Poet Laureate Ed Madden

On Sunday, November 1, One Columbia and The Comet will host the launch of our city’s first major poetry as a public art program—poems on city buses—with a rolling poetry reading on a downtown bus route followed by a celebration and reading at Tapp’s Art Center (1644 Main).

The rolling reading will take place on route 101—so we’re calling it Poetry 101. (Clever, right?) The route, which runs up North Main from the Sumter Street transit station, takes approximately an hour. There will be limited seating, first come, first served. Three sets of poets will read their work for Poetry 101, and thanks to the generosity of One Columbia, all rides on the 101 route will be free all day. For the Poetry 101 rolling reading, meet at the Sumter Street station (1780 Sumter) at 3:30. If you can’t join us on the bus, join us at Tapp’s Art Center for the celebration, with food and drink and readings by more of the poets.

The project is a collaboration One Columbia Arts and History and the Poet Laureate with the Central Midlands Transit Authority. Thanks especially to Lee Snelgrove at One Columbia and Tiffany James at CMTA.

This is my first major project as the city’s poet laureate, and I’m really excited that we have been able to do this. One of my charges as the city laureate is to incorporate the literary arts into the daily life of the city, and to get poetry into public places. The Comet project does that. We have poems on printed CMTA bus schedules (check out some online at:, we have poems on the buses themselves, and One Columbia has also published a small book of poems selected for this project—an exciting collection of South Carolina voices, and short poems ranging from the punchy to the political to the poignant. The books will be available at Tapp’s.

Earlier this year, 89 South Carolina writers submitted over 200 poems for Poems on the Comet. Our theme was “The Story of the City,” and poets wrote about favorite places, historical events, daily life in the Midlands, even poems about riding on the bus. We narrowed it down to 51 poems by 45 writers. There are poems by established writers, emerging writers, writers active in the local spoken word and arts communities, musicians, and young writers—seven of them students in Richland and Lexington County middle schools.

At Tapp’s we will also announce the theme for next year’s poetry project.

You can find out more at our Facebook event site:

Learn more about this project and get updates on what I’m doing as laureate at the laureate website:

Here are a few poems featuring in this year’s project.


Jennifer Bartell

As a turtle suns on the boulders of the river so my soul stretches forth to face the day.

Downtown Grid

Kathleen Nalley

No matter your starting point, here you’re never lost. Each right turn, each left turn leads you to a familiar place. The city itself a compass, its needle, no matter the direction, always points you home.

Small Winds

Jonathan Butler

All morning the wind has collected the incense of fields, the smell of grass like the sweet breath of the dead, the scent of earth pungent with sorrow and hope, the perfume the rain shakes from its long hair.

The wind has collected these things in fields and forests, cities and towns, to bring them to you this morning, small winds carrying chocolate and smoke blown from the black lake of your cup of coffee.

Who Sees The City?

Drew Meetze (age 14)

Who sees the city best? The tourist, the resident, or the outsider? The tourist sees the bronze stars on the capitol, the cramped racks of key chains and postcards. The resident sees little coffee shops on Main Street and hidden alleyways. The outsider understands that everyone they see has their own lives, first loves, or tragedies.


K. LaLima

Time flows like water Eyes of Cofitachequi Watch the Congaree


Under watchful gaze Five Points remains guarded by That naked cowboy

Milltown Saltbox Bedrooms

David Travis Bland

You can dance in the passenger seat— I'll hold the wheel. Five in the morning traffic Between an emaciated bridge And chicken factory steam Blurring the red neon sky. We're vegetarians in a pork town Dancing in milltown saltbox bedrooms On the banks of a river we all cross.

Announcing the Winners of Jasper's Fall Lines Writing Prizes

Fall Lines  


The Columbia Fall Line is a natural junction, along which the Congaree River falls and rapids form, running parallel to the east coast of the country between the resilient rocks of the Appalachians and the softer, more gentle coastal plain.


Jasper is delighted to announce the winners of the Fall Lines Poetry and Prose Writing Prizes sponsored by the Richland Library Friends and published in the inaugural issue of Fall Lines – a literary convergence.

Congratulations to Nicola Waldron, winner of the Broad River Prize for Prose for her piece "Dig and Delve," and to Mary Hutchins Harris, winner of the Saluda River Prize for Poetry for her poem, "Accidentals." A check for $250 accompanies each prize.

Work by Waldron and Harris will appear in Fall Lines along with poetry and prose by such award winning writers as Christopher Dickey, Josephine Humphries, and SC Poet Laureate Marjory Wentworth, as well as Aida Rogers, Ray McManus, Susan Levi Wallach, Susan Laughter Meyers and more. Fall Lines is edited by Cynthia Boiter with poetry editor Ed Madden.

With a single annual publication, Fall Lines is distributed in lieu of Jasper Magazine’s regularly scheduled summer issue via a partnership between Jasper Magazine and Richland Library, the University of South Carolina Press, One Columbia, and Muddy Ford Press. The South Carolina Academy of Authors and Roe Young State Farm Insurance Agency also serve as generous sponsors of the literary journal.

Fall Lines will release on Sunday, June 8th with a 4 pm reception and reading at the Richland Library.

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,





First Lines -- an invitation from Jasper

"As she sat stunned in her car on Charleston's rickety old John P. Grace Memorial Bridge, trapped precariously 150 feet above the swift-moving waters of the Cooper River, ..."


"When you're a boy growing up in rural South Carolina, and you want to be a poet, you should first learn to fight."


"It was a Tuesday night in the spring of 1988 and I decided to head down to Pug's in Five Points for the weekly jam session."


"This essay is not an act of revenge."


"Bastille Day 2001, personal date of independence."


"It's a particularly hot summer day, even for Columbia, when I parallel park my car on Washington Street and notice a tall, lanky gentleman as he moves stiffly to reposition an over-sized canvas by the curb."


"It began with a gift."

 Ahh, first lines.

Every literary adventure you've ever been on began with one.

Please join the Jasper and Muddy Ford Press family today as we celebrate the first lines above and more than a dozen more when we launch our newest book,

The Limelight – A Compendium of Contemporary Columbia Artists,

volume 1,

with a launch party from 5 – 8 pm at Tapp’s Arts Center on Main Street in Columbia.

The $15 admission to the event includes a copy of The Limelight ($18 after 2/24/13), music, food, and the opportunity to gather signatures from authors and artists in attendance at the launch. For couples wishing to share a book, admission is $25.

There will be a cash bar.

The Limelight, published by Muddy Ford Press, LLC, is the first volume in a serialized collection of 18 first-person, narrative essays written by professional Columbia authors and artists about professional Columbia authors and artists. It is the sixth book to be published by Muddy Ford Press since February 2012.

Edited by Jasper Magazine founder and editor Cynthia Boiter, The Limelight – A Compendium of Contemporary Columbia Artists, Volume 1 is a serialized collection of first person narrative essays written by Columbia, SC writers and artists about Columbia, SC writers and artists. As the Southeast’s newest arts destination, Columbia is bursting with visual, literary, and performing artists whose work has caught the attention of the greater arts world at large, and these essays tell the stories of how the influence of these artists has spread. New York Times best-selling author Janna McMahan, for example, writes about spending a day touring Beaufort, SC, the hometown of literary giant Pat Conroy, with the writer himself. Poet Ed Madden writes about the disconcerting words of advice he received from dying poet and professor James Dickey when Madden took over teaching the last academic course of Dickey’s career. Music writers Michael Miller and Kyle Petersen share insights on saxophone great Chris Potter and contemporary singer-songwriter Danielle Howle, respectively, and poet Cassie Premo Steele writes about the inspiration stemming from her friendship with nationally-known visual artist Philip Mullen.

These 18 essays include works by and about poets Nikky Finney, Terrance Hayes, Marjory Wentworth, Ray McManus, Cassie Premo Steele, Kristine Hartvigsen, Colena Corbett, and Ed Madden; visual artists Philip Mullen, Gilmer Petroff, Blue Sky, James Busby, Stephen Chesley, and Susan Lenz; musicians Chris Potter and Danielle Howle; dancers Stacey Calvert and Bonnie Boiter-Jolley; actors and directors Robert Richmond, Greg Leevy, Chad Henderson, Vicky Saye Henderson, Jim and Kay Thigpen, and Alex Smith; and writers and editors James Dickey, Pat Conroy, Janna McMahan, Aida Rogers, Michael Miller, Jeffrey Day, Kyle Petersen, Robbie Robertson, Don McCallister, Robert Lamb, August Krickel, and Cynthia Boiter.

For more information or to order online please go to



Sometimes it's all I think about, too.

Jasper is hosting the upstairs performance space in the Olympia Room at this year's What's Love evening of art and performance on Feb 14 at 701 Whaley.  We've got Shane Silman, Andrew Quattlebaum, and Alex Smith recreating the Beat poets, NiA Theatre Company offering a little teaser of a play, some poets and slammers, some short films, a freaky cool little installation of altered dolls by Susan Lenz, and Dr. Sketchy.

And one of the really cool things that Jasper Magazine is doing for this year's will be a little chapbook of sexy, quirky poems about love, sex, and technology.  The theme of this year's event is "input/output," so we invited poems and fiction writers to submit poetry and flash fiction that addressed love and sex and especially the ways that technology has changed our emotional and sexual relationships.  We got about 130 submissions from 40 SC writers.  There were text message poems, Skype poems, poems about voicemail and sexting, telephones and digital cams and iphones, a faux blog by a teenage girl, and story written in Facebook posts.  Girl crushes, long-distance calls, a Grindr post, lights left on all night--oh, and a lurker.  And we narrowed it down to 17 powerful, punchy little pieces.

Poets included are:  Ray McManus, Betsy Breen, Eric Kocher, Carol Peters, Worthy Evans, Nicola Waldron, Julie Bloemeke, Dustin Brookshire, Daniel Nathan Terry, Kristine Hartvigsen, Kendal Turner, Lauren Wiggins, Libby Swope Wiersema, Ed Madden, and Barbara G S Hagerty, as well as a poignant little bit of flash fiction by Carl Jenkinson.

The book is published thanks to Jasper and to Hip-Wa-Zee.


Occupy Poetry

 By Guest Blogger, Susan Levi Wallach

Did you hear the one about four poets walking into a bar? How about four bars (which is about right for poets)? How about a pint in each for them and their friends (actually, friends of Jasper Magazine, who, given the evening’s literary and other perks, got quite a deal for $25 a head)? The poets: Ed Madden, Ray McManus, Tara Powell, and Kristine Hartvigsen. The bars: White Mule, The Whig, Hunter Gatherer, and Thirsty Fellow, which spread from Columbia’s midtown Main Street to south of the Vista on Gadsden, leaving plenty of opportunities to stop between hops shops to read aloud a poem or five for the assembled crowd. The crowd: about two dozen (even before the first pint it was difficult to count, this crowd being social, with everyone wanting to talk to everyone else. If you know what I’m talking about, then you were (or should have been) on Jasper Magazine’s first Pint & Poem Walk on Wednesday.


Everyone seemed to agree that poetry and beer make for a better mix than, say, poetry and lecture halls or auditoriums or anywhere an audience is expected to stay still and dry until the wine-and-cheese reception afterward, when they’re expected to remain on their best behavior and the wine is rarely any good.


Cindi Boiter, Jasper’s founder, editor, and the evening’s host, said London pubs and poets do such things all the time. Why not Columbia? (A question that has the makings of a motto for the city’s arts McManus reads on the corner of Lady and Main Streetscommunity: Why not, Columbia? or Why not Columbia? — why shouldn’t this little city, where the cost of living is low and artists and writers are more plentiful than a lot of people realize make the arts as much of a priority as big business?)


A stop in front of the Statehouse marked the Pint & Poem midpoint at 9:30 p.m., and the Occupy Columbia brigade clearly felt more enthusiastic about having few poets in their midst than they would have been about, say, a group of CEOs and other one percenters. Having in the past several days perfected the rhythm of antiphonal chanting, they gathered about Madden with placards in hand, repeating each line of the poem he read as if it were a slogan (sometimes, the line particularly complex, he had to say it twice till everyone got it right). Poetry for the rest of us.


Letter to Travis

by Ed Madden

I saw that photo of you, lean, grinning, skinny jeans, flannel shirt, newsboy cap, and nearby,

my former student Anna, hair dyed black, arms crossed over her tie-dyed purple tee, leaning

on a not-quite-life-sized bronze George Washington (the one boxed off at the MLK march

earlier this year, unfortunate fodder for FOX to spout off about respect and legacy and shit like that,

the one with the broken cane, broken off by Union troops in 1865 and never repaired,

as if he’s doomed to limp down here, and he was shot later by drunken Governor Ben Tillman, the one

so racist he got his own statue in 1940, just across the square from George, standing watch

now over a cluster of punks in sleeping bags, just down the lawn from the one for gynecological

marvel J. Marion Sims, who Nazi-doctored black women, then ran off to New York to experiment

on destitute Irish immigrant women -- such difficult history here, stories of the black, the poor.). I heard more

about George this morning on NPR, his whiskey distillery back in business, though without the slave labor,

that story after the one about Occupy Washington clustered near K Street. The front pages

of the local papers are Gadhafi’s slaughter, the body stashed in a shopping center freezer, GOP

would-be’s descending on us for another debate, the state fair ending this weekend, its rides and fried things.

I’ve got the list of what you guys need, Travis, gloves, storage tubs, “head warming stuff,”

water, and I plan to drop by later with supplies. For now, though, I look out my window,

the weather beautiful if cool, fair weather, the dogwood gone red and finches fidgeting among the limbs.

Too easy, probably, to turn all pastoral at times like these, to tend my own garden,

the last tomatoes ripening up, collards almost ready, needing that chill to sweeten a bit.

A dear friend wrote me this week, says he’s scared he’ll lose his job come the new year,

a fear we hear over and over, though the GOP folks tell us it’s our own fault that we’re

not the rich -- individual responsibility and all that. I want to believe in the joy

and resistance I see there on your face, Travis, the will revealed in Anna’s crossed arms.

I want to believe it, I want it to last, I want it to win. I’ll stop by later with gloves and water.



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

Thanks, Y'all.

-- cb