Poetry Feature/Collaborative Project: Gmeiner Art and Cultural Center, re:covery spoken word album by brotherwell

Life has been pretty busy and I’m not complaining. I moved my boyfriend in the house and my child moved out into their first independent venture. Add work at the hospital and fixing up the house and it created a recipe for falling behind on blogs. I have good intentions of keeping up, but living in the present sometimes gets the best of me. Over the next few weeks, I will be catching up on the adventures in writing, reading, and hiking. Stay tuned for lots of great news and fun.

In May, I was invited to be a feature reader at the Gmeiner Art and Cultural Center in Wellsboro, PA. I had never been to this town and drove the 45 minutes to get there to be wowed by the beauty and charm of this small town. It is home to the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon and a community that enjoys the arts. The Gmeiner is a small building with nearly every wall surface filled with local art. When I went there, they had two retrospectives of women who had been painting for decades in various styles and mediums. Carrie Heath, the director, was kind enough to show me around and tell me the stories about the women who did the paintings. There was also a scratch art collection on display that was so incredible you would have thought they were photographs. Many of these women featured were self-taught artists which gives me hope for myself.

This feature was an hour long and beforehand I struggled to know how I was going to fill all of that time, but Carrie was such a great host that it lent itself to telling stories about writing and poetry as well as reading poems. The attendance was intimate, but it felt really good to be reading in public again. There were a few familiar places and people asked very deep and earnest questions about my writing. Some of the poems were a bit heavy and tears were shed, even by me. I suppose I am just not ready to read poems about my dad yet. I keep trying, but I don’t always make it through them. I sold five books and this felt like a win to me. During the reading, I had shared a few ekphrastic poems. I have been writing them for years for my own enjoyment and this landed me another project next year in which I will be collaborating with an artist.

If you are in Wellsboro, you should definitely stop down to the Gmeiner and see Carrie. She is doing great things by giving local artists a space to show their hard work, but to also be seen. This is important for everyone, but especially those of us in rural areas who might not have the type of access an artist would in a city. Support your local museums, buy art, share your thoughts and keep inspiring people to create. Gmeiner Art and Cultural Center, 134 Main St., Wellsboro, PA.

May was an exciting month. Earlier in the year I was asked to collaborate on a spoken word project spearheaded by brotherwell and front man Ryan Bozeman. Thirteen poets recorded their work and sent these to Bozeman who created wonderfully layered musical numbers while also adding his own lyrics to the song. Each of the poems was about recovering in some way–from injustice, heartbreak, substances, trauma etc. It is an album that sheds light on the daily struggles we all have in life and how being there for each other can really make the difference. This album is available for download on a series of platforms (iTunes, Bandcamp, Amazon Music, Spotify) and all proceeds are going to Tiny Changes which is a charity that works with troubled young minds to help and to heal. It was created after the death of a man’s brother. This album is an expression of heart and mind. It is an adventure of collaboration and insight. Please consider purchasing it and donating to Tiny Changes. My poem/song “The Moment Before the World Wakes Up” is featured in the collection. Thanks for supporting artists and writers and keeping folks afloat. We live in some pretty tough times and we have to make reaching out for help part of normal daily life rather than an exception.

If you are in crisis, reach out the the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255

Poetry Feature/Interview: Uncloistered Poetry Online and The Blue Collar Gospel Hour

Once upon a time it was hard to scrape together enough things to blog about and I would grab at any small idea, but these days I’m so busy it is hard to keep up. In no way am I complaining! Since I was asked to write a series of articles about poetry and do the open mic at Card Carrying, my life has been a whirlwind of behind the scenes creativity. I haven’t been submitting much work because I have been actively designing book covers, editing manuscripts, writing reviews, and writing a new manuscript. All of this has been wedged in with regular daily life as a nurse, mother, and partner.

Over the last month, I had the distinct pleasure of doing a feature reading online for Uncloistered Poetry in Toledo. If I would’ve had the time, I could have done it live in person, but my work schedule did not permit the travel at that time. April 10th I was able to do a feature reading with Rick Christiansen and Christopher Citro. Uncloistered Poetry was established in 2016 by Jonie McIntire who is currently the poet laureate of Toledo. She is doing wonderful things with the poetry community there and spreading the love of the poem far and wide. I was honored to be a part of this reading.

I was also invited to be interviewed by the lovely Dan Denton of The Blue Collar Gospel Hour which features working artists. Most of us making our way in the art/music/writing world have to have a day job and Dan does a wonderful job shedding some light on these folks. I have done interviews in the past, most of which were via email or mail, but never anything in person. I was a bit nervous as this was an hour long interview and I wasn’t sure if I would have enough to talk about. As it turns out, Dan is a great host and the conversation was lively. I left the interview feeling really good about what was going on in my life. He has a year’s worth of interviews on his site and you should dive into the backlog and have a listen. You can hear my interview here.

Read. Write. Support the small press. Be kind to each other.

Aleathia

Poetry Reading: Open Mic at Card Carrying Books

Photo by Aleathia Drehmer

On April 28th, just before the end of National Poetry Month, Card Carrying Books held its first ever poetry open mic. None of us were sure how the turn out would be, or if there would be anyone other than a handful of us to sign up to read. We were thrilled when we had about 25 in attendance and 10 people reading.

This was my first time ever being an MC for a poetry event and I was a little nervous, but the bookstore is such a safe and welcoming space that I found myself feeling very at home there. I have done quite a few readings in my lifetime in front of crowds of strangers and friends too, but it is something different to read for your community. There is the distinct possibility that you will run in to them again and maybe even strike up a conversation. This is how communities get connected.

The age of range of readers went from 9 years-old up to around 70 years-old. There were poems about love and emotions, about the death of a family pet and the death of a friend, a magical story about a cat, and poems about speaking your voice. I personally was very excited at the amount of youth that showed up to read. There were at least four poets who had never read their work in front of people and I loved being a part of the beginning of a journey. It’s exciting to see the work transform from paper to voice and what this can do for each person. It is a unique feeling to each writer, but I always look at it as courage and hope.

After the event, I spoke with the owners of the store and they were also pretty excited about the turn out and what it means for the community. We are currently in talks about having a quarterly poetry event and hope that more people will come and share their work. Stay for books. Stay for conversation. Stay for the belonging. Stay tuned for more information.

Read. Write. Support the small press and independent bookstores. Be kind to each other. Stand up for people.

Aleathia

Article Series: Inspiring Youth Through Poetry

Photo by Aleathia Drehmer

I am a day late in posting the link for my final article on poetry for National Poetry Month for Southern Tier Life Magazine as I was out getting some fresh air and sunshine. It has been a pleasure to write these articles about poetry which has been the one true creative mode of my lifetime. It has helped me in so many ways and constantly allows me to discover things about the world and the people in it. More importantly, it helps me to see myself.

This final article is about inspiring youth through poetry and my most recent journey with my zine Durable Goods, which I resurrected from retirement for a group of kids in Missouri plagued with a life of trauma. Please enjoy the hope and inspiration growing in today’s poetry community. You can all make a difference, even in a small way, that may turn into something life changing. Don’t give up on that idea.

Read. Write. Support the small press. Be kind to each other.

Aleathia

Article Series: The Power of Poetry to Change Lives

My third article for National Poetry Month is available to read at Southern Tier Life Magazine. This article is about the poetry that changed my life and my way of thinking from childhood until the present. I hope it starts you thinking about the authors that influenced your work or whose words changed the direction of how you thought about a certain idea. You can find the article here.

Read. Write. Support the small press. Be kind to each other.

Aleathia

Article Series: Southern Tier Life Magazine, Evolution of the Poem Through Prompt Writing

My second article at Southern Tier Life Magazine, Evolution of the Poem Through Prompt Writing, is now available for viewing. There are lots of other good articles about local happenings on the website. They are really trying to build an interest in poetry and literature in my area, so please show your support and have a look around the website.

Read. Write. Support small press. Be kind to each other.

Aleathia

Poetry Reading: That Fucking Poetry Reading

I was invited to feature on this online poetry show this week alongside A.S. Coomer and Catfish McDaris. All of us have books coming out or already out from Gutter Snob Books. I read from my Running Red Lights (Gutter Snob Books, 2022) and Looking For Wild Things (Impspired, 2021) both of which are available online or from me directly.

You can watch the online reading here which is followed by an open mic by Donna Snyder, Michael Grover and Dan Denton to name a few. This show is the first Monday of the month at 9 pm EST. Thanks for watching.

Read. Write. Be kind to each other. Support the small press.

Aleathia

Book Launch: Running Red Lights Available Today

Graphics by Michele McDannold

I am so happy to announce that my collection of poetry, Running Red Lights, is available today from Gutter Snob Books. Michele McDannold has been a great publisher to work with and I am thrilled to work with her again. She was here a the start of my career and published my first ever collection in 2006. Her belief in my work has always held a special place in my heart.

This collection is largely about observing the small moments in the world that other people glance over. Some of these were observed by me, others were back page stories in the news. Here are a few poems to tempt you:

Staring down a white-tailed doe

Small town factories
put the hard line
on faces. All of them
in a vertical destruction of youth,
skin hanging there
a wrinkle of time.

Generations
pulling long hours
sucking in black death,
diamond death,
poverty death.

It is all tattooed
on the inside of lungs,
painted over eyes,
along the jaw
clenched unknowingly.

The subconscious is the only faction
aware that there were
once dreams
of something more
than making rent and car payments,
of cigarettes and six packs

consumed.

Toothless

Parked in front of the KFC drive-thru speaker,
a toothless woman hangs out the open window
of a rusty blue Chevy truck, arms flexed,
and crossed over the door tightly as if she
fears falling the two feet toward the ground.

Her right hand cradles her cigarette like a lover
dragging its breath hard and long enough
to cave her cheeks inward to meet each other
over tongue and under palate,
cutting off the smoke
so it slips weakly
from the corners
of her mouth.

Collaboration: Poetry/Music: Drehmer/brotherwell

Photo by Aleathia Drehmer

When I write a new poem I always share it with my boyfriend first. Then I send it around on messenger to a few souls who are online. It’s random. I like random sampling for feedback. These poems only ever have a quick once over for glaring spelling errors and to maybe adjust a line break and then I let them fly before tucking them in a folder to marinate awhile.

“The Moment Before the World Wakes Up” was one of these poems. I sent it to Chris Bodor from AC Poets. Often, I don’t get any responses from people. I might get an acknowledgement they saw it or a few kind words, but this time Chris thought my poem would be great for a project he knew of elsewhere. It was unexpected, but I love the idea of new directions though I struggle with the transitional area of change. He added me to a group and shared my poem with a musical group called brotherwell.

The project itself is called re:covery. He takes our poems about recovery and makes music behind them, with them, all around them. He adds his own lyrics and together, we have written a song that I feel is full of truth and vulnerability. brotherwell really captured the feeling beneath my words and I was certainly touched by his lyrics and the thoughtful way he created music to merge them both. At some point in time, the collection of all of these collaborations will be available to buy or stream with the proceeds going to a recovery charity. Stay tuned for that information down the road. But for now, you can enjoy my collaboration with brotherwell: The Moment Before the World Wakes Up.

Read. Write. Be kind to each other. Support the small press and its writers.

Aleathia

Published: Mollyhouse & Paper and Ink Zine

“Gathering Ghosts” Original Painting by Aleathia Drehmer

My poem “To Cinders and Ash” has found a home in the upcoming Issue 4 of Mollyhouse. This publication primarily focuses on the LGBTQ community and those with disabilities, but have been kind enough to include me as a parent of a child in the LGBTQ community. This is a print issue so check back at the website regularly for their new work.

My poem “The Cold War” will appear in Paper and Ink #17 which is the survival issue. This is a great lo-fi DIY punk rock zine out of the UK. Stop by their website and check out their merch and previously published anthologies and chapbooks.