Information about the Desert City Poetry Series, contemporary poetry & poetics, and poetry readings & events in central North Carolina.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Thanks Chris Murrary & More DCPS History: PS211

Big thanks and hugs to Chris Murray over at Tex Files for such a warm welcome to blogland. I met Chris at the Carrboro Poetry Festival -- more on this soon -- last June. Turned out that we had just a single degree of separation represented by Cedrick May who I knew while at Penn State. Meeting Chris at the festival was a highlight in a weekend full of highlights. As many of you probably can already pick up from her blog if you haven't met her, she's generous, accessible, and extremely intelligent. We spent a pleasurable night drinking, talking poetry, and enjoying the post-festival buzz. So, thanks again, Chris.

The first year in Winston, the readings were held at a space then called PS211. The space and organization still exist, but they've separated for some reason. Now the space is The Werehouse and the organization isn't officially connected. To be honest, it's fairly confusing, but what I know of the story is interesting and a good example of what a few motivated, talented people can do to create a artistic community out of seemingly thin air.

In 1995 a group of local Winston musicians, artists, filmmakers, etc. ended up living in an old meat packing building downtown. It was in pretty rough shape, but they managed to clear out some living and rehearsal space and began playing shows there. The audience grew though, and before long the residents were regularly programming bands like Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Cat Power, Need New Body, Devendra Banhart, movies, dance performances, and art exhibitions. As most underground clubs do, they attracted "official attention" eventually and closed down for awhile. The organization PS211 was formed in an effort to make programming easier and more intentional. Around this same time I think, the residents -- who already comprised in various combinations a number of different bands -- formed the Psychic Revolution as an umbrella for their artistic ventures. And now, apparently, PS211 has split from the space, and the residents are continuing to program.

As a big, volunteer, arts organization the incarnations associated with the space have had the usual ups, downs, plateaus, internal political arguments, external harassments, etc. They hit, though, more often than they missed. They provided a good home for the Desert City and continually do the work that makes a community exciting and vibrant. In particular I'd like to thank Jolie Tingen who encouragingly responded to the first email I sent to PS211 asking to program some poetry events there. The space was great for readings because it was really a space for music, punk and variations in particular, and always had that energy about it. At the same time, it was a space that could be made cozy; with the combination, the poets could feel a little more rock starish than is usually possible at poetry readings.

So thanks, PS211 & The Wherehouse, for helping get the Desert City off the ground.

ps: I finished and submitted the grant -- yee-haw!!! To come: more DCPS history, facts, trivia, cocktail party game, and schedule for the 2004 - 2005 season........


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