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

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

Book Reviews: March 2022

I know I’m a little late getting these out as we are nearing the end of April, but work and writing articles has taken up a fair bit of my time as well as preparing for my boyfriend to move in and my adult child to move out into their first apartment. It’s been a whirlwind of activity, but in all of this I was able to complete nine books! Here are some thoughts about each that don’t give away the books.

I picked this book up on a trip to Arizona just before the pandemic really reared its ugly head. I went to the famous Antigone Books and this cover jumped out at me. I’d never heard of the author before and didn’t bother to read what the book was about because I was captivated by the cover. When I first started to read it, I had to put it down for several reasons. There were no dialogue tags…at all. At the time, I was writing my first novel and this sort of shift from normal wasn’t something my mind could tolerate. Secondly, it is a book about a virus taking over the world. It felt a little to right now for me, almost like reading about a trauma just before it happened. Forward to a place where the pandemic is just everyday business and I was able to get through the lack of dialogue tags and traditional indentations for paragraphs and muscled my way through. It is a translated book and this sometimes makes the transition to English a little choppy. It was an okay read, but I can’t say that I’d want to pawn it off on just anyone.

For some reason I have had a love/hate relationship with Sylvia Plath for most of my adult life. I have always found her poetry hit or miss and maybe all the stories of her personal life pushed me further away from her work. I tend to shy away from those authors that other people demand I read. It’s childish, but I like my authors genuinely found. I want to stumble upon them of my own volition. But here this book sat on my shelf, staring at me. I decided to read it just to remove it. Actually, I listened to this one while cleaning the house. It was apropos in some ways. I enjoyed the book immensely and probably much more than if I would have read it when it was suggested. I could look back on having had these types of feelings as a young woman and identify with what it meant in my own generation. Definitely a surprise enjoyed read for me.

This book was an early morning need-a-book-to-listen-to-on-the-way-to-work selection. Again, I didn’t know anything about the author or what the book was about. Often I try to expand the genres and authors I read/listen to in order to keep myself moving forward. This was a touching book about a girl growing up in Germany and that time just as the war was brewing and things started to not be safe for Jews in that country. It is a book that is multi-generational of the women in this family, how the daughter married and emigrated to America. The idea being that at some point she would have enough money to send for her parents and the heartbreak of their separation in uncertain times. A tear jerker for sure.

I often like to take my non-fiction books as audio-books as they lend to being able to do other things alongside listening. Facts are easier to collate this way for me. I have had an obsession with birds this year and this did not disappoint. This book is a great recounting of a young man’s journey to Russia to find these near mythical Fish Owls that some have seen but haven’t really been able to study. He suffers harsh Russian winters to complete his PhD thesis on the habitat and hunting/mating habits of these birds. It was exciting to discover and learn with him about these owls I never knew existed.

This book of poetry from Kerry Trautman was utterly delightful, but also inquisitive. She bought this portrait of a woman she didn’t know at an auction and as she looked at it each day, she began to develop conversations with her. The book is filled with musings of what Trautman imagines Marilyn would say to her or how she might judge her everyday life. The concept worked very well for me and it lends the writer and the reader an opportunity to create an imaginary life together. I highly recommend this collection.

I first heard of Sarah Kay through her TED talk and was instantly amazed at the amount of lines she could remember. I have a difficult time reading from memory and people who can manage this when it isn’t put to music, impress me. She also has a delightful storytelling manner. Having only heard her read once, I was able to instill her voice and cadence into the lines of this book filled with memories and love and heartbreak. The book left me with so many lines to think about in the context of my own life. When my friend was recovering from surgery, I gave it to her to read because even in the dark moments of this book, there is a quality of uplifting that can’t be denied.

I found this book at a library book sale. It is an utter stroke of kismet to find Jack Gilbert anywhere. Many years ago I read his collection “Refusing Heaven” and fell into this sort of melancholy love with his words. He is both sharp and tender in the way he spills the lines onto the page and since that time, I have looked for his books wherever I travel and never seem to find any. This tells me that he is the sort of writer that once he is in your collection and on the shelf, he doesn’t leave. We could all wish to have that enduring quality. I read this book while wandering around by the river and getting muddy. Best consumed outside.

I have been acquainted with Schumejda for many years now and even had the grace given to me to read with her several times. She is well educated but down to earth. She often writes about the everyday man/woman, about those feelings we are all too afraid to write about. I expected this when I got this book, but what took me by surprise was that this entire book is one poem that works out her feelings of disbelief, anger, sadness, grief, and forgiveness for something terrible her brother has done. It was a journey through all the emotions at the same time. The writing experimental in form and context but very cohesive and strong. It lent itself to the complexity of emotions trapped in the front and back cover. The art of Hosho McCreesh is spliced in between the long poem giving you a moment to catch your breath.

This was another library book sale find. The cover made me smile, so I thought I would give it a chance. I had never heard of Morgan Parker and I am always trying to expand my knowledge of poets in the world. This is a collection that does have some poems about Beyonce, but more over it is a book about how a contemporary African-American woman navigates today’s society. It was an interesting book for me, because though we are both women navigating the same world, it isn’t the same. I have privileges that she might not and these are not brought to light for me in a meaningful way most of the time as I shuffle around in my rural river town. I enjoyed the perspective, but also was made to feel like I needed to pay closer attention the way society treats African-American women.

Thanks for reading and I hope you find a few of these books interesting enough to give them a chance. Keep reading and writing. Be kind to each other. Buy Books!!!

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

Article Series: Southern Tier Life Magazine, A Life of Poetry

It’s funny how life work sometimes when you’re minding your own business. Last month I was approached by the managing editor of Southern Tier Life Magazine, Catherine White, about doing a series of articles on poetry for National Poetry Month. She found me through a post about the open mic at Card Carrying Books and Gifts on April 28th in which I am the MC.

So here I am, writing articles for a local magazine. When I was in high school I wanted to be a journalist. My life path didn’t carry me down that road and I went on to be a nurse instead, but have always carried that dream in my back pocket. I get to place a big old check mark next to this line item on my bucket list this month.

The first article is about how poetry has weaved itself into my life. You can read “A Life of Poetry” now at Southern Tier Life Magazine. Thanks for taking the time.

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

Aleathia

Hiking: Finger Lakes Trail 60 Part 2

2/2/2022

My favorite person to hike with is Lisa. She was the friend that took me on my Bristol Hills three day adventure that truly changed my life. Hiking has developed our friendship in a way that is very special to me. Our hikes are filled with philosophical thought, discovering flowers and animal tracks, and discussing the deep parts of ourselves that we sometimes feel only the trees can really absorb without judgement. The only problem is we live about 40 minutes apart and each have busy lives so coordinating a hike can sometimes be a challenge.

This was our first hike of the year together and due to time constraints, I chose the M 12 at access 6 Pleasant Valley Road in Urbana. Lisa and I had hiked this part before but not in the winter. I like doing the same hikes in different seasons as it reveals things about the land, but also about myself. It had snowed recently, but it was still soft and we didn’t need ice spikes.

The more I hike this section of trail, the more I love it. The incline of it is just enough to feel the burn, but not so challenging that it is distracting. It has amazing ravines that show off a creek at the bottom for three seasons and some cool ice flow in the winter.

Coming back to this section of the M 12 this year has made me want to hike the whole thing. There are so many great trails that we get to dreaming about hiking them all once we’ve had a little taste of them. I definitely want to finish B 1 and B 3 this year for a sense of completion and then maybe we’ll start knocking away sections of the M 12.

But most of all, I love how this year’s challenge will bring me closer to my friend. Lisa is an amazing soul who teaches me about the strength I didn’t know I had inside me. This hike was my first FLT of the year and my first hike with Lisa, but definitely not the last.

Stay safe out there. See you on the trail. If you hear clinking and chiming, it’s just me.

Love,

Aleathia (Hobojangles)

Poetry Reading: Ancient City Poets

I have had the opportunity to work with Chris Bodor in the past on various publications and anthologies that were produced through Poet Plant Press. Chris is now running a monthly group in St. Augustine, FL called the Ancient City Poets which would meet in person monthly to share poetry pre-pandemic. In the last few years, they still meet but on Zoom which is then aired as a Facebook Live. Once in awhile, I am lucky enough to have that day off in the month and can attend.

January 2022 was such a month and you can hear me read a poem along with a bunch of other great writers who attended, as well as Poet Laureate of Lucus County, OH, Jonie McIntire. Here is the recording of Ancient City Poets for January 2022 . The wonderful thing about Zoom and the internet in general, is that you can still attend readings when you live far away. This is an inclusive group. You attend once and you become an AC Poet. It’s a nice feeling.

This year they will be having a fun filled weekend full of poetry and music in St. Augustine hosted at Flagler College for April Poetry Month. This is the copy from Chris’ website:

ST. AUGUSTINE POETFEST 2022
Ancient City Poets have partnered with the English Department of Flagler College and the St. Johns Cultural Council to present a day-long celebration of creative writing and reciting on Saturday April 9th, the day after the Henry Rollins spoken word show at the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall.  The day of events, the haiku contest, and the last Sunday of the month open mic reading will be St. Johns County’s local recognition of National Poetry Month (April) .

Michael Rothenberg, founder of 100 Thousand Poets for Change, is going to travel from Tallahassee to the campus of Flagler College to be our keynote and perform with his avant-garde jazz group: the EcoSound Ensemble.”

Check his page often for updates on specific details for both the poetry festival and join all the great writers on AC Poets once a month. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon.

Read. Write. Be Kind to Each Other. Support Small Press.

Aleathia

Book Reviews: January 2022

I wouldn’t go so far as to say these are deep dive book reviews. I have never been a fan of those because they ultimately tell me too much and then I feel like I don’t need to read the book. I like the adventure of figuring it out myself, but on the other hand, it is hard to branch out and find new authors and types of things to read if you don’t know just a smidge. And before anyone gets super excited and thinks I’m a freakishly fast reader, some of this months books were started last month and some are audiobooks. Enjoy my 2 cents.

All Around Cowboy by Scot D. Young (Spartan Press, 2021) is a collection of poems that spans this man’s life living in the heart of Missouri. Scot has a way of showing us hard topics with a soft hand. He is a storyteller. The way the book unfolds allows for traveling from a time long forgotten to the present. It’s like riding a train where one only catches some things in sharp focus, just enough to let the mind wander in that space and find a connection, on some level, to our own lives.

Memorial by Bryan Washington (Riverhead Books, 2020) is about the struggles in love of two homosexual men from widely different cultural backgrounds living in Texas. But, it’s more than that. It’s a book about family, about choices, about doing the right thing, about finding your way in the world. I listened to the audiobook which features Bryan Washington reading one of the parts himself. It had a different sort of life listening to the book instead of reading it as it is split into sections based on the perspective of each lover. I started out reading it and then switched to listening to it.

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones (Simon and Schuster, 2020) is noted as a horror book which I didn’t find exactly scary. I used to read horror as a teenager and young adult, and I don’t think this book fits in that category. This book takes place on and off the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana and is loosely about four Native American friends who go against tribal law and hunt on grounds they are not allowed to. To avoid prosecution, they have to waste all the elk they have killed and are banned from hunting on the rez. But one of the elk was special, one was pregnant. This book dives into dark fantasy and allegory. It didn’t scare me, but it definitely had me on edge. This was a book that I knew nothing of the author or the story before hand but loved the cover. It did not disappoint.

Untamed by Glennon Doyle (Random House, 2020). I had this book on my list from the previous year and my kid had given it to me for Christmas. I finally worked my way through the book stack to get to it. This book is full of snapshots of Doyle’s transition out of heterosexual married life where she was miserable into a same sex marriage that changed her life. It is a collection of stories about self integrity, about knowing who you are and going forward with that, and about the joy and the struggles of having a non-traditional family. This book really spoke to me about breaking down the barriers of tradition from times that are no longer relevant. How many times to I approach a situation with my mother’s or my grandmother’s voice in my head instead of my own? It is a book about letting your wild come to the surface.

The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine N. Aron (Broadway Books, 1997). Every now and then I like to throw a non-fiction book in the mix to spice up my life…yes, that was comedy. I feel like non-fiction uses a different side of my brain than fiction or poetry and I like to active all the parts. My mother used to make fun of me and say I was “so sensitive” and it turns out that she wasn’t wrong. Some of the tenants of this book are a bit outdated for 1997 and not all together politically correct, but it did help me to understand some parts of my personality and how to help them heal from things I’ve experienced in my life.

Topics of Conversation by Miranda Popkey (Knopf, 2020). This was another book plucked from a list of books to read from 2020. I have been taking great effort to read authors I don’t know and genres that aren’t in my wheelhouse. Basically, I’m swimming outside my comfort zone. I listened to this one on audiobook because my library had it available and I wasn’t disappointed. The book follows a woman through her young adult life to almost middle age in vignettes of conversations she has with other women. There is a rawness to her perspective of herself, of other women, and of the environments she’s in. It is a book full of unapologetic inside talk that women have but don’t like to admit they have. There is a lot of alcohol featured in this book so if you are triggered by that or into sober living, it might raise some hackles, but I think it was true to the reality of life today.