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

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Happy New Year & Hot Times in the Cold New Year

New Year's is always my favorite time -- not the New Year's Eve thing (usually unpredictable (though I think I've got a good shot at a very good one this year)) just the whole new year, fresh start, flip the digis, sort of thing. I like, for example, that people (myself included) often add to their usual good-bye routine around this time "Happy New Year!" There's just something nice about that, right? Usually, it's just "bye", "see ya", "kiss my ...." But at New Year's we get to wish each other a little extra something -- it's just nice. And I like nice. I always notice when that point comes that the New Year doesn't get the happy wish anymore. So there's that thing -- the other thing is that Christmas is stressful, right? Presents, shopping, giving, traveling, visiting -- then it's all over and we get a whole fresh new year. Lastly, my birthday is in January (the 29th) so maybe it's just that I'm excited about my birthday. I dig January -- it's probably my favorite month.

So aside from the above reasons for my deep love for January, I have two more reasons to love January this year:

Ed Roberson & Todd Sandvik

Reading their poems in the Desert City Saturday, January 14th, at 8pm at Internationalist Books.

Ed, like John Taggart come to think of it, is one of those people that has flown around the edges of various poetic communities and camps for many years, putting out work that feels driven by something quite a bit larger than stylistic trends.

Here's a link to a paper on his work published a while back in Poetics Today.

Todd Sandvik is one of my very favorite local poets -- a dynamo in the Carrboro/Chapel Hill poetry scene, the host (with the delightful Mrs. Laura Sandvik) of the Blue Door Events, and currently six months into his tenure as Carrboro's Poet Laureate. Todd works really hard on his poems and has extremely high expectations for himself. As a result he hasn't published much, but his poems are really wonderful -- like Roberson's, Todd's stuff is in a slightly different land than the norm (in a different way from Roberson.) Also, Todd is a really good reader of his own work. Lots of heart in those performances.

At any rate, I'm very excited about the reading and will post more about it soon.

In the meantime, some other good news:

Christopher Davis, author of History of the Only War among others, will be reading February 11th, Saturday, with Claudia Rankine.

Selah Saterstrom, author of The Pink Institution, will be reading March 25th, Saturday, with Ron Silliman.

And the last reading of the '05/'06 Desert City Series:

Emmanuel Hocquard & Rosmarie Waldrop Saturday, April 22nd.

If I hadn't scheduled all this stuff myself, I wouldn't hardly believe it could be this good....

Monday, December 19, 2005


I should have written below: "and the murder of at least 22 African American men."

Thanks Again, North Carolina

What a generous state -- they put up an archive of poet of the week pages. So my little page has returned from the void.

You can find it here now (but scroll down to the bottom.)

Thanks (not for the last time) Chris, Debbie, & Kay.

But also some troubling state news: apparently in 1898 there was--what was called at the time a "race riot" but has recently been re-labeled--an insurrection. This insurrection was lead by white supremacists across the state who had decided to take over local legislatures in an attempt to disenfranchise African-Americans. The violence reached its most extreme levels in Wilmington resulting in the forceful overthrow of a local government and the deaths of at least 22 African-American men.

The insurrection was completely successful in its aims, disenfranchising North Carolina's African-American population until the Voting Rights Act was enacted.

Good to see that attention is being given to what happened back then.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

See you soon, Marcus.....

My friend Marcus Slease decided out of the blue to go teach English in South Korea for a year.

Go say good-bye (or hello) -- I'll miss you, Marcus.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Interested in Reading in the Desert?

So I occasionally get emails and phone calls from folks who would like to read in the Desert City. I appreciate these calls, but honestly I usually am walking around with a fairly lengthy wish list of potential readers already.

If anyone is interested in reading in the series, the best thing to do is email me (addy to the right) and ask for my address. I'll give you my address so that the interested party can send me a copy of their book for me to check out.

Unless I know the poet, I'm likely not to express much initial interest. I don't mean to be blunt or close-minded -- I just have a lot of people I'd like to bring already, and I only have 7 or 8 slots per season. It doesn't amount to a whole lot.

If one were to send me their book though, I would check the book out and might decide to pursue a reading. No promises at all though -- no promise of a response even. I will at least thumb through the book, ask my friends about the poet, give it a thought.

It's unfortunate that I can't program more folks or give people I don't already know more time, but as anyone in the po' biz these days knows, there are a lot of books being published and a lot of good books (I think.)

All this said, I am very invested in searching out new poets, so the news isn't all bad. It's just not very good either.

So I hope this isn't too discouraging; it's intended to just be honest.

So email me, shoot me your book, I'll be happy to take a look, and I might decide to schedule you. The odds, unfortunately, are against it though.

On another note though, Chapel Hill/Carrboro is a great poetry area. While the Desert City is often booked as much as a year in advance, there are many (myself included) in the area that are interested/willing to host more informal house readings or set up stuff in venues other than the Internationalist.

So it may be that while I can't program someone for the DC, I can find somebody a place somewhere around town. The drawback in this scenario is that there isn't any money for these readings -- it'd be a hat-passer at best. Though, honestly, I think the audience here is good enough to make a trip to our fair 'burb worth whatever it might take.

I think that's about it -- I'll be a sporadic (more so even) poster for a little while I assume, but heck, you never know do you?

Happy holidays......

Monday, December 05, 2005

Home again....

Wow, what a weekend -- what a trip; what an incredible group of people that I get to hang out with and get too little sleep with and spend too long unshowered in a car with. Swoooon -- I do love my po' boys. So big thanks and hugs to Brian, Marcus, Randall, David, & Jehanne for being fellow travelers.

Big thanks and hugs to John Lowther, Tracy, Randy, and all the Atlanta Poets Group folks -- you all remind me of what it is I love about poetry.

Big thanks and hugs to Sabrina Orah Mark, Kristen, & Brian -- you folks all should move to Chapel Hill; maybe tomorrow?

Anyhoo, I'm just giving shout outs here, but for something more substantive, check out:

Brian's funny and remarkably accurate report.

Marcus's sparse report with audio.

Rock on -- poetry tour: what the whole world needs more of.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

The Lucifer Poetics Group in Georgia

Verdad, amigos -- a gang of the folks from the Lucifer Poetics Group are headed down south:

Two Readings:

Friday, December 2nd, at 8pm!
at the Eyedrum Gallery in Atlanta, Georgia!
members of the Lucifer Poetics Group will present individual and collaborative poetic works!
made entirely of words!
click below!

Saturday, December 3rd, at 4pm!
at the Flicker Bar in Athens, Georgia!
members of the Lucifer Poetics Group will present individual and collaborative poetic works!
made entirely of words!
click below!

The Cast:

Ken Rumble is the director of the Desert City Poetry Series and the poetry buyer for Internationalist Books in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. His poems have appeared in Gutcult, Parakeet, The Tiny, New College Review, Coconut, Carolina Quarterly, among others. He can say "Czeslaw Milosz" with his mouth full of crackers.

Julian Semilian teaches film editing at North Carolina School of the Arts after having spent 24 years editing films in Hollywood. He has published three books: Transgender Organ Grinder (Spuyten Duyvil Press) Paul Celan's Romanian Poems (translation; Green Integer), and A Spy in Amnesia (Spuyten Duyvil). His translation of Mircea Cartarescu's novel, Nostalgia, will be coming out this fall from New Directions, while Spuyten Duyvil will publish his new book, Osiris With The Trombone Across The Seam Of Insubstance.

Tim Earley's work has appeared or is forthcoming in Conduit, DIAGRAM, Chicago Review, jubilat, Hotel Amerika, Forklift Ohio, and other journals. A chapbook, The Spooking of Mavens, will be available from Rank Stranger Press later this year. His first full-length collection, Boondoogle, was recently published by Main Street Rag Press.

Brian Howe is a freelance writer and poet living in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He is a contributing writer at, a contributing editor at Paste Magazine, and a blogger at His work has been featured in Eratio, Octopus, McSweeney's, GutCult and Volutions.

Randall Williams is a freelance reporter, anti-war activist and poet living in Hillsborough, N.C. His articles, poems and literary reviews have appeared or are forthcoming in McSweeney’s, Salon, The Independent, Word /for Word and GutCult. Since 2001, he has taught journalism and creative writing in the Office of Continuing Studies at Duke University. Junk Horse Press published his two chapbooks Empire and 40 Days in 2003 and 2004.

Marcus Slease is a native of Portadown, N. Ireland and a member of the Lucifer Poetics Group. He is the author of three manuscripts: Mouth Harp, Campanology, and Resident Alien. All forthcoming at some point. His poetry has been published in Octopus, Columbia Poetry Review, Forklift Ohio, and Conduit (among others). He lives with his wife Tiffany in Greensboro, NC. You can read his blog at

David Need lives in Durham with wife, sometimes son, and four cats. He's been quietly writing and reading poetry since 1975. David works as an adjunct instructor for Duke University (since 2000) in Asian Religions and Literature. He's been writing and presenting poetry since 1975 with a fifteen year hiatus when practicing Buddhism in his twenties and early thirties. For the most part, David has not attempted to get published, preferring to produce limited hand-made editions/tracts and to give readings. He writes reviews for Oyster Boy and the Independent.

Originally from the dustbowl state of Oklahoma, Ted Pope came of age in the foothills of western North Carolina, founding the spoken word band Sister Raven and becoming one of the darlings of the American SLAM scene, and a participant in the early Lollapalooza tours. His work has recently appeared in Nexus, Nantahala Review, and Asheville Poetry Review. A recent chapbook, Jousting From the Back of a Mule, was published in 2004 by Third Lung Press.


Also, readers may have noticed the link below no longer takes one to my poet of the week page -- instead it takes you to the current poet of the week page; an equally good page: have no fear to click.

I have been assured that my poet of the week page will reappear in the inter-ether sometime soon.

In the meantime, Anny Ballardini has posted one of the poems from the page on her blog -- thanks, Anny!