Tag Archives: poetry readings

Slash Pine Poetry Festival: Day #2

Matt Mullins reading, photo courtesy of Layne Ransom

I was most excited for the second day of the Slash Pine Poetry Festival. My nerves were operating at a low hum, as I didn’t have to read, and had logged a day’s worth of experience in Alabama, so I could operate the whole day with just my wonder gaze on. The belly full of fried catfish, collard greens, black-eyed peas, and cornbread didn’t hurt, either. Cornbread everywhere you go—how hospitable, how comfy.

The first reading I attended was at the Green Bar. The area of the bar was somewhat narrow, but stretched far into a dark space that ended at a raised stage. Green Bar’s scene was reminiscent of the local Be Here Now readings—cramped, dusky—and while BHN readings tend to have a fair attendance, the Green Bar’s reading was brimming with people. By the time us Ball State visitors arrived, it was standing room only, save for a few seats sparsely dotted throughout, and only visible seconds before someone else smoothed into them.

Michael Martone and Abe Smith, two University of Alabama writers and teachers in attendance, had quickly become iconic in my mind. I remembered Martone’s Blue Guide to Indiana only somewhat from Professor Sean Lovelace’s fiction class, and I’d only discovered Smith’s work the night before. Still, they each had a quality about them that made me glad to inhabit their vicinities. Almost as if the genuine and original quality their writing held was also something they exuded—something you could inhale and catch.

I hoped there would be some happenstance, some alignment of supernatural elements that would result in Martone and Smith reading at the festival, but it must not have been in the cards. I didn’t leave Alabama feeling literarily deprived, though. There were too many good writers, and if anyone left with that feeling, they didn’t pay attention well enough. Some highlights from the Green Bar readers were Brandi Wells and Oliver de la Paz. Wells read from her Worst Times series. Something about her, and her writing, seemed genuinely tough. And in a room full of writers—a group generally thought to bruise easy and over think making a fist instead of blocking a right hook—Wells’ writing aesthetic was refreshing. Oliver de la Paz was one of those readers that maintains a gentle cadence and looks to be talking in a somewhat hushed tone, but you realize you can hear him clear as day because he’s mind-controlling the entire room. You realize he’s doing something with a combination of mood, sound, and vocabulary that hooks into everyone in the audience. Just after he read, I found myself bobbing my head up and down, saying, “Mhmm, good stuff, good stuff.”

The next reading was at the Bama Theatre. It was a weird environment: a production of The Wizard of Oz letting out scattered munchkins, Wicked Witch of the West guards, and flying monkeys, while throughout the reading gussied-up kids passed by the wall-sized windows on their way to the prom. Ellie Isenhart, who graduated from Ball State’s M.A. Creative Writing program in 2010 and is now part of the University of Alabama’s M.F.A. Creative Writing program, read from a letters series with a bite. Christopher DeWeese put me back in my too-baggy clothes and heavily gelled hair with his collection of poems inspired by 90’s alternative music (nobody talks about the song “Lightning Crashes” anymore, and I’ve been waiting for this a long time—thanks, DeWeese). When Matt Mullins started on the mic, I felt pretty proud to be affiliated. Just as Lovelace had one of the best crowd responses at his reading, Mullins got to the audience. In his reading style, you can tell he has a good grasp of rhythm and sound; that he revels in that locus where the oral and written aspects of literature hold equal importance.

The Slash Pine Poetry Festival was a lit dog race, a lit endurance trial. But I imagine most of the readers have sat through long, dry, odyssean readings themselves, though. They seemed to make effort to keep things lively. It’s a great thing to be surrounded by people that share your passions and are excited by the same things you are. You’re great hosts/hostesses, U of A people. Thank you kindly for an awesome experience.


Jeremy Bauer

Reading tonight!

Tonight, there will be a reading at Village Green Records at 7:30 PM to announce the release of the chapbook How to Get a Job as a Mermaid. The chapbook was written as a collaboration between Ashley Ford, Abby Hines, Lindsey LaVal, Layne Ransom, Elysia Smith, and Lora Thompson, all of whom will be reading from their works tonight. The chapbook will be available for $3.

After the reading, there will be a special showing of the film An Island—a short documentary about indie rock band Efterklang from Copenhagen, Denmark. Both events could take place either inside or outside the record store, depending on weather.

Annual Gala Winners Reading

From left to right: Layne Ransom, Lindsey P. LaVal, Spencer McNelly

Tonight! The Writers Community will be hosting its annual Undergraduate Gala Winners Reading. The reading serves as one of the outstanding prizes awarded to Layne Ransom, Lindsey P. LaVal, and Spencer McNelly for winning the top three places at the Undergraduate Writers Gala last fall. The reading will be in Bracken Library, room 104, at 7:30 p.m. Come out and celebrate this great accomplishment of your peers by listening to their work. It’s sure to be a great time, so don’t miss out!

Student reading tonight!

Tonight, there will be a student-organized reading at Be Here Now in the Village. The reading will take place at 9:30 and will require a $1 cover for all attendees under 21. The readers, in no particular order, are: Phoebe Blake, David Jessee, Ashley Ford, Cody Davis, and Ryan Rader. Ryan Rader will also be releasing two chapbooks, First Rodeo: Poems and The Millennial Hipster: Superficial Reflections. Come out and enjoy the writing of your peers!

Poetry reading: Peter Davis, Michael Meyerhofer, Jared Sexton, and Todd McKinney

Tonight there will be a poetry reading starring BSU faculty Peter Davis, Michael Meyerhofer, Jared Sexton, and Todd McKinney. The reading will take place at Motini’s in Muncie’s village area, which is a 21+ venue. The event starts at 7:30 p.m. and looks to be a great time. It’s always fun to hear your BSU professors’ own work, so come on out!

Don’t miss the Annual Undergraduate Writers Gala tonight!

Today is the Annual Undergraduate Writers Gala. For those who have never been to this event before, twenty students will present a piece of their own written work to a panel of judges made up of English Department faculty. This year, the judges are as follows: Rai Peterson, Cathy Day, and Jared Sexton, along with Creative Writing graduate student Audrey Brown. Winners of first, second, and third place will be awarded prizes consisting of literary journals, books, books by BSU professors, and their own reading in the spring.  The Gala will be held in the Atrium, room 175, and is set to start at 7:30 p.m. This event is free and open to the public, so bring your friends and family to celebrate the pursuit of writing! There will also be a free raffle to anyone who would like to participate. Good luck all you wonderful undergraduate readers!

*Readers are to be at AJ 175 by 7:15 p.m.

The Annual Undergraduate Writers Gala is here!

Next Tuesday, December 7th, is the Annual Undergraduate Writers Gala. For those that have never been to it before, twenty students will present a piece of their own written work to a panel of judges made up of English Department faculty. Winners of first, second, and third place will be awarded prizes consisting of literary journals, books, and books by BSU professors. The Gala will be held in the Atrium, room 175, and is set to start at 7:30 p.m. This event is free and open to the public, so bring your friends and family to celebrate the pursuit of writing!


Check in with Writers Community officers Tyler Gobble and Elysia Smith at 7:15 p.m., before the Gala. Readers are also expected to submit a bio to be read as their introduction no later than Sunday, December 5th, at midnight. The bio should NOT exceed 75 words and should be sent with your piece in a single .doc to writers@bsu.edu.

Guest Post: Layne Ransom, undergraduate student, on the value of poetry readings

Layne Ransom

This may sound melodramatic, but I’m indebted to the first poetry readings I attended at Motini’s two-ish years ago for not letting me become a Wheel of Time fan fiction writer. I’m not kidding. Before then, I was oblivious to contemporary literature and mostly read fantasy novels about scantily-clad people waving swords at each other.

From hearing what my peers were doing, I learned two valuable things: being the grammar police isn’t that important, and words, like people, need to cut loose sometimes.

I don’t mean that knowing basic syntax and punctuation isn’t important. I think that’s obvious. But I didn’t realize how little my high school AP-English-encouraged perfectionism had to do with crafting interesting, beautiful, or emotionally engaged writing. I believed that if I knew what rules to follow, then what I did was artful. That my own development as a human being, of working toward being more honest and self-aware, would somehow be vital to producing meaningful writing was not on my radar.

Also, almost everything I’d read consisted of said fantasy novels and the canon of literature classes. Both of these strands of writing, in my experience, took themselves very seriously. (Even when the former rarely gave reasons to do so.) Everything I knew—which wasn’t much—said there was no screwing around in writing, and I believed it. I didn’t allow my words or myself as a writer to be anything but stiflingly serious. I taught my words dinner etiquette and forbade politics, religion, and dirty jokes at the table.

Hearing poems about the Internet and Van Halen was both a slap upside the head and divine permission to not take writing as a whole, my own writing, and myself so damned seriously. Sometimes words just want to eat Taco Bell and play Mario Kart, and I finally realized that wasn’t just okay, that was wonderful. Sometimes I just want to eat Taco Bell and play Mario Kart, and I stopped outright dismissing as worthless the experiences I had normally categorized as trivial or “not good enough” for writing. After this, my writing got better, which made me think more, so my writing got better, and so on and so forth.

I started participating in readings because I was grateful for the marked change they started in me, and wanted to know how having an audience affected my writing. I’m still fresh to it, and owning a stage and microphone feels giddy and criminal, like smashing mailboxes or egging your ex’s house. But reading and writing with people who care about how words inform human experience is strange, cool, and lovely, and I’d be missing out if I weren’t doing it.

Student reading tonight!

There will be a student-organized poetry reading tonight at 9:30 at Be Here Now, in the village. Here’s the lineup, in no particular order: Kelly Stacy, Alex Dunning, Joe Cermak, Layne Ransom, and Elysia Smith. If you are under 21, there is a $1 cover charge at the door. This will most likely be the last of these student-organized readings this semester, so don’t miss your chance to listen to some great work by your peers!

Reading tonight!

Tonight at 7:30, in Bracken Library room 104, there will be a reading from alumnus Matt Hart and Professor Michael Meyerhoffer. Both writers are noted poets, with two books of poetry published each, as well as numerous literary journal publications. Opening the reading will be guest student reader Ryan Rader, who was chosen from among a number of anonymous entrants. As has been the fashion of these recent readings, undergraduate students submitted their work anonymously for a chance to open the reading, with the main-event writer/writers choosing the winner. These readings have been spectacular this year, and attending can be of great personal benefit. Alumnus Nate Logan remarked in an interview that while attending a poetry reading here at Ball State his sophomore year, he was inspired to change his academic track to include a Ph.D. Creative Writing program. Of course, that doesn’t mean the same will happen to everybody, but to hear an author read their own work is a treat nonetheless. And who knows, if you aren’t an English major already, maybe you’ll consider the option.