We welcome you to the April edition of the Wilde Readings Series with the hosts of The Ragged Edge, Martin Malone, Katy Giebenhain, and Alan Bogage. The event is hosted Laura Shovan. Join us at the Columbia Art Center (Columbia Art Center 6100 Foreland Garth Columbia, MD 21045) on Tuesday, April 11th 7-8:30 PM. Please spread the word – bring your friends, family, and students.
We encourage you to participate in the open mic. Please prepare no more than five minutes of performance time/two poems. Sign up in advance by calling the Columbia Arts Center, or when you arrive. The number is 410-730-0075. Light refreshments will be served. Books by both featured authors and open mic readers will be available for sale.
Get to know our featured authors Martin, Katy, and Alan!
Who is the person in your life (past or present) that shows up most often in your writing?
Martin: My poems don’t tend to be about specific people very often. Many of them draw from mythology and mythic characters – the Norse wolf Fenris, Odysseus, Aztec gods and myths. Or they are about things I have seen – observations of everyday events – a woman in the car in front of me putting on make-up while she drove, looking at the skin on the backs of my old worn hands, walking on streets familiar or new, fishing the Gallatin River in Montana; traveler tales – the shock of seeing things for the first time and attempting to capture the memory and the emotion of that event – Cuzco, Florence, New York City; visual stimuli – photos-artistic or everyday or journalistic or old family snapshots, or paintings or sculpture.
Katy: Images and circumstances reappear more than specific people. My brother has a consistent, indirect influence on my perspective when I write. I have not thought about this question before. It might be my father. His stories of growing up on a dairy farm have a way of popping up in unlikely associations in my poems.
Where is your favorite place to write?
Alan: Dining room table. I know, how boring.
Martin: While I only have access to this space one month a year- from mid-June to mid-July, the screened porch of the house we rent in Maine faces the Penobscot Bay. When I get up at sunrise and sit at that table with the day’s first coffee, that is ideal. Eagles and cormorants hunting and the small birds of everyday life all dart by. Clouds float along changing shapes and changing the morning light and fishing boats going out and already returning make this an hour of quiet and wonder that is hard to beat for concentration, and just pure ahhh. The rest of the year, I either write in my home office, where my laptop is, and with the advantage of nearness to my own library, or in a comfortable sunny chair in our living room.
Katy: Hmmm, I don’t have a particular favorite.
Do you have any consistent pre-writing rituals?
Alan: I put on ECM label jazz – Eberhard Weber, Jan Garbarek, Pat Metheny.
Martin: Waking with the lines already coming is a great start. Sometimes that means grabbing the bedside notebook and retreating to the bathroom so as not to wake my wife. If it is late enough to get up – at least 5, I can go to the kitchen, make coffee and perhaps toast, and write at the dining room table watching the eastern sky’s first red bar and then the brightening sky. If I’m not starting with dream lines, I choose poets to read to put my mind in the right frame. For my current large project – a poem cycle of Aztec and Spanish monologues about the fateful 16th century meeting of two worlds, I often start by reading Aztec or other indigenous poets. There are many more than most people realize. Otherwise, depending on what I have in mind to write about, I may pull down Gary Snyder, Elizabeth Bishop, Auden, Williams, or whoever seems most helpful.
Katy: I start on paper (notebooks, legal pads, sticky notes, envelopes, paper scraps by the cutting board, the edges of a newspaper article – yes I still like hardcopy newspapers – cheers).
Who always gets a first read?
Martin: My first reader is always my wife, Jane, who I know is biased but has a keen eye, especially for a word or phrase that doesn’t work. She works through every early draft before anyone else sees anything. Before the more critical reactions of workshops, her sympathetic reading is the best place to start, without getting discouraged too early. She has my abiding gratitude.
Katy: Often my husband. He is good at zeroing in on parts that are not clear.
What is a book you’ve read more than twice (and would read again)?
Alan: Beloved, Great Expectations, One Hundred Years of Solitude.
Martin: Once again because of my current Aztec-Spanish project, I have been rereading different translations of the Iliad, from Pope’s 18 th century rhyming couplets to the whole slew of recent ones. My favorite for the language continues to be Robert Fagles. But there are so many good ones, each with a different tone. I can’t say I have read all of each one. But contrasting the various books and stanzas is always fascinating. While I have gone back and reread (just once) Pynchon’s earliest novels – The Crying of Lot 49, and V, and William Gibson’s earliest cyberpunk – Burning Chrome, Mona Lisa Overdrive, generally rather than whole books, I find myself returning to short pieces – like Dashiell Hammett’s and Raymond Chandler’s short stories or Borges’ fables, and to poems from favorite poets – Elizabeth Bishop, Billy Collins, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Seamus Heaney, Pablo Neruda’s odes, Mary Oliver, Robert Pinsky, Gary Snyder, and the guilty pleasure of Sharon Olds’ Odes.
Katy: Geography of the Forehead by Ron Koertge and Copperhead Cane by Jim Wayne Miller with German translations by Thomas Dorsett.
What is the most memorable reading you have attended?
Alan: Allen Ginsberg, Archibald MacLeish.
Martin: The biannual Dodge Poetry Festival in Newark NJ has been the most overwhelmingly powerful poetry event I have ever attended. My first visit in 2016 opened with a reading in the big hall (NJ Performing Arts Center – NJPAC) by the festival’s top poets, including Gary Snyder, Billy Collins, Martin Espada, Anne Waldman, Li-Young Li, and I am sure others I have forgotten. It genuinely brought me to tears. Every festival since then has been a wondrous three days. Nothing else I have ever been a part of has been as magical.
Katy: This is tricky. Many come to mind. I really enjoyed a reading that the Welsh poet Tony Curtis and his wife Margaret gave in Pennsylvania several years ago at “A Dylan Thomas Evening.” It was magical to hear them on this side of the Atlantic.
Alan Bogage is a retired librarian living in Westminster, Md. He has worked for Carroll Community College, American University, Howard County (Md.) Public Library, and Robert Morris College. He has facilitated (with others) a number of poetry readings including the Carroll County Arts Council and most recently, First Friday at the Ragged Edge (Gettysburg, Pa). His poems have appeared in Gently Strength Quarterly, Backbone Mountain Review, and the anthology Out of the Mouths of Men.
Katy Giebenhain is the author of Sharps Cabaret (Mercer University Press). Poems and prose have appeared in New Welsh Review, The Arkansas Review, The Examined Life Journal, PoetryXHunger, Bridge Eight, The Pittsburgh Quarterly, BMJ Medical Humanities Blog and elsewhere. Her luddite blog is Big Pharma and the Barkeep at www.katygiebenhain.com. She co-hosts a coffeehouse poetry series with Alan Bogage and Mary Malone.
Martin Malone’s poems have appeared in a number of little magazines, including Dream International Quarterly, Scribble, Seminary Ridge Review, Pennsylvania Bards Against Hunger 2018, Backbone Mountain Review, CentraLit, the Pennsylvania Poetry Society 2021 Anthology, and are forthcoming in the Maryland Literary Review. He is one of the organizers of Gettysburg’s First Friday Poetry Series. He was a professor of sociology and anthropology for 31 years at Mount Saint Mary’s University. His chapbook, Simple Gifts, was published in 2014. He lives in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, with his wife, Jane.