Poetry readings connect us to the oral roots of expressive language, a lineage as old as the human story itself. I imagine that as soon as humans developed the capacity for utterance, they began to use it – rhythmically, musically, eventually reflectively and aesthetically – to voice or attempt to voice the essential nature of being: what it meant, in any given moment, to be alive.
As editor of Pedestal Magazine Reading Series and to partner with Charlotte Lit. The mission of Charlotte Lit (“to celebrate the literary arts by educating and engaging writers and readers through classes, conversations, and community”) is ideally aligned with Pedestal’s mission (“to support established and burgeoning writers … to promote artistic diversity and celebrate the voice of the individual”). For more than four years, Charlotte Lit has hosted and sponsored energized readings, workshops, and discussions. In addition, their facility on Central Avenue is a stimulating hub, a locale that naturally fosters enthusiasm, engagement, and curiosity. I’ve always wanted Pedestal Magazine to be a hub of sorts as well, one primarily engaged in the process of publishing, but one also complementarily involved with other related ventures, including workshops, mentoring/outreach opportunities, and a reading series., I’m excited to launch the
Our first gathering will be held at Charlotte Lit on Wednesday, October 16 at 6:30 p.m., and feature current NC Poet Laureate Jaki Shelton Green and Heart of Pamlico Poet Laureate for eastern NC Malaika King Albrecht. Throughout her work, Jaki offers relatable narratives and potent imagery, offering wise insights into human nature and historical patterns. Malaika’s work merges confessional tones with surrealistic imagery, also commenting on the culture at large. Both poets adeptly integrate the emotional and the intellectual, forging a unity of music and meaning. I encourage anyone who is interested in current poetry to familiarize themselves with the work of these vital poets. (Also, Jaki will be teaching a master class at Charlotte Lit on Thursday, October 17, “The Poet Witnesses: The Poet as Documentarian, Historian, and Agitator.”
Life these days feels precarious, replete with injustices, displacements, and environmental crises, including the extinction or impending extinction of numerous species and the degradation of natural resources in many parts of the world. Furthermore we seem to be witnessing a deterioration of ethical standards and a devaluation of communication skills. It’s easy, given these complex and pressing problems, to question whether poetry has a place in a world such as ours. How can we be concerned with the poetic process during a time that seems so urgently pivotal?
I’d suggest that we need eloquent poetry more than ever. We can be moved by the honesty inherent to skillfully rendered poems. We can be elevated by that particular blend of the personal and universal that well-crafted verse can strike. We can be clear that the discipline, vision, and expansiveness required to bring the creative impulse to fruition is indeed highly relevant; the very practice, perhaps, that is egregiously missing or at least depreciated in our current world. We need to be and remain inspired, to celebrate our perennial inquiry into what it means to feel, think, live, and face the inevitability of death. Please join us on October 16 for what will be, I’m certain, an evening to remember.
John Amen is the author of several collections of poetry, including “strange theater” (New York Quarterly Books, 2015), a finalist for the 2016 Brockman-Campbell Award. He is co-author, with Daniel Y. Harris, of “The New Arcana.” His latest collection, “Illusion of an Overwhelm,” work from which was chosen as a finalist for the Dana Award, was released by New York Quarterly Books in 2017. His poetry, fiction, reviews, and essays have appeared in journals nationally and internationally, and his poetry has been translated into Spanish, French, Hungarian, Korean, and Hebrew. He is a Staff Reviewer for the longstanding music publication No Depression.