Holler Poets 10 02.12.2009

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Click here to view PDF Holler 10. Ace coverstory 2.12.2009

…and The Beat goes on
Shout out for Holler
By Kim Thomas

“The only thing that can save the world is
the reclaiming of the awareness of the world.
That’s what poetry does.”
—Allen Ginsberg

If the ice and snow kept you barricaded inyour home and you had to miss last
week’s Holler Poets Series 9, Holler returns with Series 10, on February 18, beginning at 8pm at Al’s Bar & Grill, where the beers are
cheap, but the poetry is rich.

Holler 10, featuring Chuck Clenney and Crystal Wilkinson and hosted by Eric
Sutherland, will follow with music by Devine Carama (whose album, Divine
Intervention was just released this past Saturday). Admission is FREE.

Since the Holler Poets Series is followed by such a diverse and thoughtful group of poets, writers, thinkers and people who just automatically give you a good vibe that creativity is alive and living at Al’s, it’s not surprising that Sutherland describes Holler as “THE literary event in Lexington.”

How Holler Happened
The Holler Poets Series is the burgeoning
brainchild of Eric Sutherland, a socially
conscious advocate and encourager for local
musical and vocal artists. Sutherland admits
he had organized a similar series years ago,
but “had descended into creative hibernation.
Over beers at Al’s one night, I was having
a chat with a friend, and poet, Chuck
Clenney about the need for a poetic response
to the 5 year anniversary of the Iraq invasion.
Poets for Peace was born that night and took
place at Al’s in March, the 5-year marker.”
Poet Laureate Jane Gentry Vance headlined
the group of eight poets that night, and
according to Sutherland, “we had a huge
turnout. At that point, [Al’s owner] Les Miller
asked me if I wanted to do something at Al’s
on the regular. I decided a monthly poetry and
music gig would be just what the community
needed and set about organizing Holler.”
The first event happened in May, with
Jude McPherson and Maurice Manning headlining.
The excitement and energy was so
great, Sutherland then organized about four
or five months’ worth of events at one time.
On February 4, Holler 9, the ninth show
in the series had Al’s packed to standing
room only within a half hour.
Sutherland has an enthusiasm that
seems to have touched people of all ages, and
in all walks of life.
Jim Embry says he considers Sutherland
to be, “one of the most incredible artists not
only in the Bluegrass, but just about anywhere.”
You can’t get a better nod than that.
At the Holler shows, Sutherland never
misses a beat, knows everyone who walks in,
and most importantly, shows his respectful
support by being an rapt listener.

Featured Holler Poets
One of the spotlighted artists at Holler 9,
Mike Kimble met Sutherland through going
to Holler.
Kimble says, “He’s an incredible poet
and infectious with creative energy. I think
Holler’s success has a lot to do with that
energy.” Kimble has been writing for several
years and names two main inspirational
influences, Saul Williams and Black Ice.
“I have had the pleasure of seeing both
live and both bring incredible, yet different
styles and topics to the forefront. They are
extremely driven by their craft and it is
plainly evident that their work ethic to continually
progress and get better never
diminishes. They unknowingly push me to
strive to reach my potential and hopefully
carve out a name for myself one day on a
larger scale. Maybe one day I can have people
pay to come see me speak. That would
be unbelievable.”
Kimble didn’t know until he was in college
that wanted to write, “I had dreams of
being a NBA basketball star but when that
fell through, poetry found its way into my
heart and never left.”
The crowd at Al’s was moved, and
rewarded Kimble with shouts and applause for
his courage, when he proudly voiced his devotion
to and admiration for his family, especially
his younger brother, who has autism.
Open Mic Opens Up Avenue for Expression
One of Sutherland’s regular open-mic
readers who always draws a keen interest is
Sunny Montgomery, who had everyone in
stitches at Holler 9, bringing down the house
with her hilarious story about office etiquette.
Montgomery is grateful to the Holler
scene, and believes that “it’s not so much that
I feel like Holler has brought the writer out in
me (I’ve considered myself a writer since I
was ten), but something it’s done for sure is
give me a reason to keep turning out new
pieces. I tell myself that I have to have something
new to read at open mic every month,
so I’ll write a lot of stories before I get one
that I’m comfortable reading to a crowd.
Coupling a passion for writing with a fear of rejection is definitely making me become a
stronger writer!”
Montgomery thinks another element of
Holler’s success is because everyone is always
so supportive to the open mic readers. “I’ve
made some good friends and met a lot of
really talented writers who’ve seriously
inspired my writing (Donna Ison, Maurice
Manning, Kristen Roach Thompson for
example). Holler has been a great literary network
for me. I mean Al’s Bar was already a
really cool place to be (shout out to the black
bean burger) — you combine that with the
amazing energy and creative spirit that
Holler brings and I believe this is easily the
greatest literary event to happen in
Lexington.”

Holler Poets Series 9

At Holler 9, host Eric Sutherland began
the evening with the open mic session, an
assortment of readings that covered every
subject from Sunny Montgomery’s hilarious
story about office etiquette to Donna Ison’s
irreverent snippet from her book, The Miracle
of Myrtle: Saint Gone Wild (which is now
available at Amazon.com).
Open mic concluded with readings by
Sutherland and Devine Carama, adding just
enough solemn verse to sober the audience
and set the mood for featured poets, Kristen
Roach Thompson and Mike Kimble.
Although much of the evening was spent
in laughter, Thompson and Kimble both
reflected their contemplative nature through
their spoken word. Thompson’s musings
revealed how her wry sense of humor had
helped her survive several bouts with
melanoma, at times simply saying, “here’s
another cancer poem,” as an introduction.
Kimble completed the verbal portion of the
show with prose on a multitude of topics. At
one point, he stepped to the side and finished
his performance off-mic, speaking with an
open heart about his love and respect for his
younger brother, who is autistic.
Sutherland, the master of gentle persuasion,
often shushed the spirited crowd during
readings, but the air of respect for him
was palpable and likewise, they obeyed.
With the below-zero wind chill, how
comforting to find this pocket of poetic
warmth by going a little bit out of my way last
week. Even those who think they don’t like
poetry should make an effort on February
18th to witness Holler’s showcase of local talent.
After all, these are the stars of tomorrow!
Sutherland promises an even bigger
Holler extravaganza in March. Stay tuned for
more in Ace and on the Ace blog about this
collection of poets, which in the past have
included the following: Maurice Manning,
Jude McPherson, Bianca Spriggs, Jane
Gentry Vance, Willie Davis, Ed McClanahan,
Gurney Norman, Rebecca Howell, Katerina
Stoykova-Klemer, Crystal McGee, Makalani
Bandele, Matthew Haughton, George Ella
Lyon, NAM, Chuck Clenney, Theo Edmonds.
Photos courtesy of Erin Cutler

NOTE: Another much-anticipated facet of
Holler Poets Series is the poster artwork by John
Lackey.

Visit: http://www.myspace.com/hollerpoets
or http://www.myspace.com/esutherland

HOLLER CREATOR, ERIC SUTHERLAND,
IN HIS OWN WORDS:
“I was a writer as a teen, but more prose, letters,
diary type of stuff, you know the broken
hearted teen thing. My first thing I really wrote
was a short “book” called the game, when I was in
8th grade. It was an assignment in a program for
gifted students called Inquire. Well, I guess it was
for those who scored high on their standardized
tests … but the first poem I remember writing was
when I was 19, about the Rodney King beating
and watching that whole scene unfold on CNN.
My parents were encouraging of whatever I
wanted to do, really. I was more of a jock growing
up, though I really wanted to be a visual artist
and told folks so as far back as 8 years old! I guess
I knew I had a talent for expressing myself in
writing, but never really thought about being a
writer. It wasn’t until I discovered other poets in
the Central Kentucky scene that I found my place
in this poetry world.
I like to write about whatever inspires me to
put pen to paper. Mostly, I guess, I write about
our connection to the natural world, both the
beauty of it, and the destruction of it. This would
include modern politics. I also write about love,
both happy tales and tragic ones. It seems that
most of my inspiration to write comes from being
pissed off, depressed, sad, etc. about the state of
affairs in the world whether that is on a personal
level or a national level.
Sutherland’s influences are diverse. He
explains, “John Lennon was there from the
beginning, I mean, I really found poetry through
music. My parents had a great diverse record collection
and I spent hours playing them, reading
the lyrics. In fact, I can point to the Pink Floyd
song, Pigs, three different ones, from the album
animals, as a major influence in my thinking and
later writing life. The Beatles were great, but I
had a certain affinity toward John, and as I
learned more about him and his social and political
awareness and activism, I truly held him high
up. In his song working class hero he sings “a
working class hero is something to be” and i guess
I have become just that, a working class man trying
to make a positive difference in the world. As
far as writers go, I guess you would have to start
with Wendell Berry.. I grew up a mere 20 miles
from where he births his earth centered visions and was turned on immediately
by his straightforward profundity.
I first discovered him through a
book of essays given by my mother
for Christmas and it was like
someone had flipped a light switch
on in my head! His poem,
“Manifesto: Mad Farmer
Liberation Front” is probably my favorite
poem…and then there are the beats, particularly
Kerouac, Gary Snyder and Allen
Ginsberg. Ginsberg’s howl is also one of my faves,
and arguably could be the greatest poem of all
time. Of course, Walt Whitman, Robinson Jeffers,
t.s. eliot … I could go on and on.”

 

Holler If You Hear Me
Poetry is Back
By Bianca Spriggs
One of my favorite quotes of all time is, “The king fears
no one but the poet.” As far as I know, it’s anonymous, but still
poignant. There’s a reason, I feel, that it’s been so long to have
a poet included in the Inaugural ceremonies. There’s a reason a
bunch of poets turned down an invite to the White House during
the past eight years and since have begun a Poets Against
the War initiative.
January not only marked the Inauguration of a new president,
but a national Welcome Home to poets everywhere. Poetry is
again apart of the national lexicon. Yes, this is the answer to the
question we’ve been asking ourselves: How do poets stop writing
poetry for other poets and stop alienating readers of all ilks? In other
words how do poets break back into national interest and make
poetry inclusive? Well, you elect a president who reads poetry and
get represented at Inauguration by a bonafide Class A poet. Duh.
So on that note, you too have an opportunity to be part
of this new crop of cool. Wednesday, February 18, if you
looooooooooooove poetry and if you loooooooooooooove Al’s
Bar, then there’s only one place in Lexington that you need to
be. And that’s front and center at Al’s at 8pm, eagerly awaiting
the open mic and featured writers of the Holler Poetry Series,
hosted by Eric Sutherland.
I met Eric about 11 years ago at the Bluegrass Baking
Company at a monthly reading he used to host.
He gave me my first feature spot, ever, and though the
years put a halt to that particular set, and have opened and
closed other local venues, over the past year, Eric can still put
one a heck of a good show. He has revitalized much of the ardor
for live poetry in Lexington, through the Holler monthly reading,
which have occasionally featured riveting Poets Against the
War sessions, and have boasted such Kentucky authors as Poet
Laureate, Jane Gentry Vance, Guerney Norman, Jude
McPherson, George Ella Lyon, Leatha Kendrick, and Rebecca
Howell, not to mention a sampling of the buffet of local music.
The crowds, as you might expect in a bar scene, are
rowdy, talky, and engaged. This is not your Mama’s poetry set,
folks. Do not expect golf claps, finger snaps, or polite discussion
about meter. Do expect loud conversation closer to the bar (read:
get a seat by the stage), every topic from love to politics, and
hands on, down and dirty, and intellectually call and response,
poetry. Roll up your sleeves, grab a bottle of PBR or a knot of
Buffalo Trace, order some local, sustainable fare, and get your
seat early for this month’s line up featuring Mike Kimble and
Kristen Roach Thompson and music by the Comfort Creatures.

Open mic begins at 8pm (please limit your poems to
under 4 minutes for courtesy’s sake), and of course, as always,
the show is F to the R to the Double E. Bring a friend, a poem,
and your fine self on down!
And on that note, I’d loveta leave you with one of my
favorite riffs, a little Yeats:
Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
—The Wind Among the Reeds

 

 



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