April is 30 days of absolute expressiveness, as we take a moment to recognize the poets and their insightful, yet very personal work. This weekend Old Books On Front Street is honoring National Poetry Month with their annual festival, dubbed “Couplet: Two Days Of Verse.” The events begin at 10:30 a.m., Saturday, April 18, and ends Sunday, April 19, at 6:30 p.m. Presented will be invaluable poetry workshops by notable writers like, Richard Krawiec, Danny Krawiec and Melissa Hassard from Sable Books. Each poet will bring out the rhythmic soulfulness in us all.
“You need poets and poems to tell you what’s going on around you in an artistic way,” Shaun Mitchell, a playwright and poet, says.
He will be among the many poets reading this weekend, on Sunday at 2 p.m. Mitchell will read from his debut book of poetry, “Big Red Book Of Pop Culture, U.S. History, Poetry and Pantylines.” It took Mitchell nine months to complete it.
Originally from Brooklyn, New York (or as he pronounces it, “New Yawk”), Mitchell’s work revolves around influential icons who thrived throughout different decades—the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s. People who defined history, like John Gotti, Mike Tyson and Marilyn Monroe, among others, are pointed to through rhyme and humor. The artwork within the book has been hand drawn by Mitchell, too.
“There are no sexual poses, but each woman inside is holding a gun and wearing tight clothes,” he jokes. “They are strong, independent, big-bottomed, real women—just the way I like them.”
Mitchell’s take on an event that defined so many families over the past two decades is one of the most anticipated readings:
“September eleventh’s the day
will live in infamy.
Terrorists launched a joint attack
of hate and anarchy.
After 911 occurred the U.S. would proclaim
The Taliban in Afghanistan are the ones to blame.
The U.S. and U.K. attacked, never to be undone.
And so the first strike on the war on terror has begun.”
“Poetry uses art to capture the moment and the times we are living in,” Mitchell tells. “It’s relevant. One hundred or 200 years from now people will know how the average person felt about himself and the world he or she was living in. Long after we are gone, they’ll know how things affected us and the people around us.”
Anthony Lawson, a local actor who has starred in plays like, “Full Monty,” “The Producers” and “Reefer Madness,” also will be reading on Sunday. Also a co-founder and artistic director for Panache Theatrical Productions, Lawson will read at 6:30 p.m. from his work, “Keep Your Secrets.” It was published by Old Books’ in-house micro-press, New Books on Front Street.
As well, it is less introspection and more reflection on a man he says he no longer is or wants to be. “It’s just from a point in my life that I don’t quite associate with anymore,” Lawson explains. “A much angrier person wrote most of those poems. It’s full of angst and, maybe, a little bit of hope. The cover, a heart-shaped ashtray with cigarettes, I designed.”
As the 2015 fiction writer for encore—which publishes his ongoing story, “The Nine Lives of Xen”—Lawson takes inspiration from the work of David Sedaris but above all Kurt Vonnegut. He associates with Vonnegut’s insertion of himself into fiction.
In addition to Old Books On Front Street’s annual poetry event, the local book haven will debut its Literary Walking Tour. This inspirational and motivating new tour has been in the works for a while, according to Old Books’ owner Gwenyfar Rohler. It will cover downtown from the river all the way to 5th Avenue. Guests will visit different settings, like the homes of influential authors from our Port City, defunct libraries and newspaper headquarters, and more.
“I am pretty overwhelmed by the amount of information we have to cover,” Rohler says. “Our literary history goes back to the 1600s and is still developing everyday here. It is essential to the human condition and has helped us share our experiences since the dawn of communication.”
Interested parties can score $8 tickets to the tour online (www.brownpapertickets.com/event/1282058). The tour begins at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday.
With countless workshops, packed with helpful and encouraging information for all phases of any writing career—ranging from how to market your own book to cover design—plus unbelievable poetry readings that dare and surprise, Couplet will educate and challenge perceptions. For more information on who is teaching the workshops and the different poets reading, visit Old Books online.
Couplets: Two Days of Verse
Old Books on Front Street
249 N Front St.
Saturday, April 18, 10:30 a.m.
Sunday April, 19, 2 p.m. • Tickets vary
Literary Walking Tour
Saturday, April 18, 1:30 p.m. • $8