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2016 Poetpalooza

Village Lights Bookstore promotes poetry with annual weekend event

Readings to be made by poet laureates
from Indiana, Kentucky

(April 2016) – Where ever they go, The Reservoir Dogwoods bring their unique style of poetry and live performance with them. Bundled with enthusiasm and poignancy, they bring poetry to life for both traditional and contemporary audiences.
The group is comprised of four men who live in various parts of Indiana: Matthew Jackson (Columbus), Tony Brewer (Bloomington), Joseph Kerschbaum (Bloomington) and Jason L. Ammerman (Indianapolis). They have been hailed as “four of Indiana’s finest spoken word artists.”
The Reservoir Dogwoods will kickoff Poetpalooza 2016: Pluralistic Appalachia, on Friday, April 22, at Village Lights Bookstore, 110 E. Main St., in Madison, Ind. They will begin the event at 5 p.m. Friday, followed by an Open Mic session and reading by Jill Kelly Koren, local poet and assistant professor of English at Ivy Tech Community College in Madison.
The Reservoir Dogwoods will also close the Friday session with another performance at 7 p.m. Poetpalooza will run through Sunday, April 24.

Photo provided

The Reservoir Dogwoods (above) will kick off the weekend events on Friday night with readings.

The Reservoir Dogwoods are known for taking their brand of performance poetry across the Hoosier state, engaging audiences in a breathtaking show. Each member draws on various influences that include the Beats, Charles Bukowski, Saul Williams, Etheridge Knight, Miles Davis, and Scott Russell Sanders.
Their first tour together was in 2009, bringing their blend of humor, drama, street smarts, literary acumen, homespun wisdom, worldly events and personal catharsis to audiences everywhere. Each member has an individual style and is a well established poet in his own right.
Praise has come in many forms for the group. Judy Spector, professor of English at Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus, said of The Reservoir Dogwoods when they performed on campus in 2009, “They were able to do in one evening what it takes most of the faculty 10 weeks to do. The Dogwoods’ show brought poetry to life, engaged the audience in a fresh and exciting way, and provided thought-provoking entertainment.”
Saturday’s Poetpalooza lineup begins at 10 a.m. with Mini-quiches & Music and ends at 10 p.m. with Appalachian Music. Poets scheduled for Saturday include Larry Smith, Maurice Manning, Lee Pennington and Crystal Good. They will read and sign their works hourly.
The event continues on Sunday beginning at noon with a Chapbook Making Workshop and ends at 7 p.m. with another Open Mic session. Poets in Sunday’s lineup include Richard Taylor, Shari Wagner (Indiana Poet Laureate, 2016-2018), Ron Whitehead and Lance Newman.
This will be the fifth annual Poetpalooza organized by Village Lights Bookstore, said bookstore co-owner Nathan Montoya. There is a mix of returning and new poets to the lineup, with Taylor, Kentucky Poet Laureate, 1999-2001, having been to every one, said Montoya.
The event came about because “we’re big on poetry here,” he said. After having a conversation with Norbert Krapf, Poet Laureate of Indiana, 2008-2010, and tossing back and forth ideas, “Norbert suggested a poetry festival.”
Montoya said, “We wanted a way to promote poetry and serve poets in the area.” After connecting with Taylor when he gave a reading at Historic Locust Grove in Louisville, Ky., Montoya began thinking Krapf’s idea was a good one that could be turned into a weekend event at the bookstore.
Poetpalooza was born as a tri-state event, presenting readings and signings by regionally and nationally recognized published poets from Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio. Each year the event has featured an independent small press and is always held in April, National Poetry Month.
This year it has gone beyond the tri-state region to include Good of West Virginia, said Montoya. Poetpalooza takes place all day and is structured so that the public can wander in and out during readings, finding something that appeals just to them.
The name “Poetpalooza” was suggested by Peter LoPilato, editor and publisher of The Ryder, Bloomington’s culture and film guide, said Montoya.
Some poets, such as Whitehead of Kentucky, perform “like a volcano, while others are quiet,” Montoya said. There will be something that will appeal to every literary taste.
This year’s event will focus on the pluralistic nature of Appalachia and include members of The Affrilachian Poets and the Southern Appalachian Writers Cooperative. Such groups will present readings that represent a growing number of diverse emerging and established writers from around a region that spreads to parts of 13 states and includes the entire state of West Virginia.
The Affrilachian Poets was founded by poet and educator Frank X Walker, who coined the word, “Affrilachian.” He was aided in establishing The Affrilachian Poets by fellow poets Nikky Finney and Mitchell L. H. Douglas. Douglas will attend the 2016 Poetpalooza.
The cooperative was organized more than 40 years ago by several writers and activists, including Gurney Norman, a former Kentucky Poet Laureate. Their goal was “to support writers in our efforts to take control of our regional identity and to take action, individually and collectively, on the issues that impact our land and our people.
Poetpalooza will incorporate several workshops. The first, a chapbook making workshop, has been coordinated by Young Poets of Louisville.
Montoya said this workshop “is a great way to help people get started with poetry.” With poets, it may take a lifetime to produce a large book; most are short form books, he said. “Many first time poets are published in chapbook form.”
A second Writing Workshop will be given by Lance Newman on the theme of “Self-Expression.” Both workshops are open to the public by advance registration through the bookstore.
“We’re targeting young people, to help them get started,” Montoya said. “Poetry is so varied and speaks to so many people if they just take the time to listen.”

• For more information, call Village Lights Bookstore at
(812) 265-1800 or visit www.VillageLightsBooks.com.

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