I first met Gail and Brittney at Ian Bodkin’s Poetry of the Whatnot reading as part of this year’s RVA Lit Crawl and knew immediately that we absolutely had to get them on the show.
Brittney Scott has a new collection of poems called The Derelict Daughter, the culmination of her writing career thus far. Much of the book focuses on her relationship with her mother, father, and brother.
Gail Giewont is a soft-spoken teacher at the Appomattox Regional Governor’s School, but her poetry shakes with a force that will surprise you. Her book, Vulture, is available through Finishing Line Press.
GRAND SLAM CHAMP Imani Thompson and PAGE POET SLAM CHAMP and VCU SLAM CAPTAIN Pressman Pressman from The Writer’s Den delight our ears and hearts with their pomes of love and anguish. Ben and Dom are also present.
Catch their slams the last Thursday of every month at Infuzion RVA. Doors open at 7, pomes start at 8.
Mikemetic is a man of many modes and balances life as a father, musician, community advocate, and educator with a constant influx of new creative engagements each year. He is an Honorary member of University of Richmond’s Alpha Psy Omega Theater and Dance Society, a former Style Weekly “Top 40 Under 40” selection, and an author with a number of forthcoming titles. His 2017 release “Hood Haiku Volume One: Sidewalk Science” earned him the characterization as “part Public Enemy, part Zora Neale Hurston” and has allowed him to continue pushing forward the dialogue around art, culture, and identity. Mikemetic has also been a volunteer at WRIR for over a decade with 8 years as host of Middle East Coast Mecca, and several more years as a regular contributor and guest host on Mellow Madness and a number of other shows.
A.M. Pressman is an Indonesian-American poet living in Richmond, Virginia. Their work has appeared on Button Poetry and Write About Now, and explores issues of mixed Asian identity, family, faith, and trauma through personal narratives. They are currently an undergrad student at VCU. Their work has appeared on Button Poetry, Write About Now, Slamfind, and other publications. Pressman is the 2015 VCU Grand Slam Champion, 2016 CUPSI Best Poet Nominee, 2016 Southern Fried Indie Finalist, 2017 WOWPS and IWPS Representative for Washington D.C.’s Beltway Slam, and 2016-2017 President of VCU’s internationally ranked poetry team, Good Clear Sound.
Lydia Armstrong lives and writes in Richmond, Virginia, with her two cats. Her work has appeared in Voicemail Poems, Blotterature, Neon, The Axe Factory, Arsenic Lobster, apt, and others. Her poem, “The November We Are Fifteen,” was selected for the Crack the Spine Anthology XV and The Best Small Fictions 2017 (Braddock Avenue Books). She was a 2017 nominee for the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem. In 2016, Lydia helped operate Slam Richmond, a local spoken word venue, and facilitated writing workshops in conjunction with Slam Richmond open mics, in high schools, and for private groups. She is currently working on a novel.
The second annual Lit Crawl is upon us! This year’s events will be staged in various venues throughout Carytown and will feature dozens of local authors. We will be there to record readings and perhaps even give out some P&C swag! For more information, check out their website.
Lydia Armstrong is a prolific and deeply personal poet. We Prosers sat down with Lydia to discuss her poetry and writing, and we are pleased to share our conversation and her performance with you here on the airwaves.
The piece she chose to bring in (something which inspired her) was an excerpt from Seymour: An Introduction, a novella by the late J.D. Salinger. Initially published in The New Yorker in 1959, since 1963 it has been published together with another one of his novellas, Raise High the Roofbeam, Carpenter. Like many of Salinger’s post-Catcher in the Rye stories, Seymour features members of the fictional Glass family. The Glass’ seven children are all as bright as they are precocious, and are the basis for the Tenenbaum children from Wes Anderson’s 2001 cult classic The Royal Tenenbaums. Seymour: An Introduction has been maligned by many literary critics for its lack of structure and its stream-of-consciousness narrative style, but others, like Lydia, have found a wonderful sense of sadness within Buddy Glass’s lament of his lost brother, Seymour.
Lydia read two poems for us. The first is The Highway is Just Concrete, published in the Arsenic Lobster Poetry Journal. It’s a deep look into Lydia’s struggles with Intrusive Thoughts and O.C.D. by way connecting the concrete making up the highway, on which she has had unwelcome thoughts of intentionally causing an accident, with that of the walls we surround ourselves with for safety and security.
Yet another great episode with yet another great writer! We discuss memes as works of art, the lasting legacy of Marina Abramović‘s popularization of poignant performance art, and what it’s like to slog through the writing of a first novel.
You can catch Lydia at a number of open mics around Richmond, especially the Open Mic Poetry night at Café Zata in Forest Hill, 7pm – 9pm, fourth Fridays. You can also follow her on Instagram, and watch videos of her slam performances on her YouTube channel.
On the last Thursday of every month, poets and poetry enthusiasts gather at Infuzion RVA for The Writer’s Den Poetry Slam. Poets include members of The Writer’s Den slam team, as well as walk-on performers. Slams provide a unique experience: during the course of three rounds, poets advance (or are eliminated) based on the combined scores of judges from the audience. The growing success of these events is due largely to the efforts of the founder of The Writer’s Den, Roscoe Burnems (one of our guests for our second-ever show, along with fellow TWD teammate Monica Edwards).
Last month, I attended my second Writer’s Den Slam. Upon arriving, I was asked to be a judge. I was given a small whiteboard and an unexpected dose of anxiety. How do you judge a poem? How do you compare one poet to another? Turns out, it’s as simple as it is stressful. I decided on a handful of basic criteria and tried to keep my cool when my score was met with pained yelps from the back of the room.
Each poem had its own distinctive style and tone. Some were bitter, cursing an ex-lover. Others downright hilarious. Two particularly charismatic performers were Michelle Dodd and Rob “Robalujah” Gibson.
“The Dodd is good…” “All the time.” “All the time…” “The Dodd is good.” Michelle Dodd is the only member of the Writer’s Den who receives her own battle cry before each performance. Michelle is a black woman who was adopted by a white family, and much of her poems revolve around feeling out of place and uncomfortable in her own skin. She is also a musician, often incorporating ground-shaking vocal performance into her poetry. Michelle Dodd is a powerhouse poet. She has published two books of poetry, which you can find on her website.
Robalution. Robalujah. Robalu. Rob Gibson is a poet, artist, musician, and coach. This man breathes verse. While we were recording this episode, I saw that Rob was writing or doodling on some scrap paper while we spoke. Afterward, we saw that he had sketched each of us in the room.
Writing this, I realize that I actually know very little about Rob. Maybe that’s part of his charm.
During our conversation, Michelle mentioned that another member of The Writer’s Den once said that all poets can be classified as of the elemental “benders” fromAvatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra: water, earth, fire, and air. Michelle is a self-described water poet, Rob an air poet. This seems about right to me. Michelle’s poems will wash over you with total emotion. Rob is whimsical and daring with his poetry, like Aang riding the wind on his glider.
Patty and Cheryl, authors and organizers of the RVA Lit Crawl, joined the full Prose & Cons crew in the WRIR studio to chat about books, poetry, and life!
Patty Smith is a full-time Literature and Writing teacher at the Appomattox Regional Governor’s School in Petersburg and the author of The Year of Needy Girls, her debut novel set in Smith’s native Massachusetts. Many settings and themes from the book stem from Patty’s own life, such as the struggle of a working-class woman teaching at an elite school, the fear of being an openly gay teacher in a tight-knit community, and the tragedy of a local ten-year-old boy’s murder. The stage of this grisly tale is set with a immersive and ominous prologue describing the events leading up to this boy’s untimely death, and the story delivers a powerful and thoughtful examination of false accusations in a small town.
Michael Donovan, author of Hook Haiku, joined Dom and I in the WRIR studio as the guest for this week’s episode. Last year, Donovan was featured in a Style Weekly article, focusing on the origin and evolution of Hood Haiku (read it here).
During the first segment of our show, Michael chose to read a poem titled Earthseed, by Octavia Butler. The poem comes from Butler’s novel Parable of the Sower and, in the book, describes the core tenet of the fictional religion of Earthseed, that “God is change”. It is also a prime example of late-20th-century Afrofuturism and a powerful think-piece, which will cause you to reexamine your belief (or unbelief) in God.
We started our second segment with selections from the “Knowledge” chapter of Hook Haiku. Dom and I each read a haiku and Michael read two, with plenty of context and conversation in-between.
“Mikemetic” Donovan is not only a poet and musician, he is also a WRIR veteran and a great dude. We had a great time chatting with him, and we hope you’ll enjoy this special episode.
Hood Haiku, Vol. 1: Sidewalk Science is published through Fist City Press and is available now. You can purchase it here.