reading series

February 27: Micah Ballard and Ryan Newton

The first "poetry" reading I'd hosted in a while, and a very good one. I hadn't seen Micah read in a long time, and I was very impressed with the continuing development of his voice, as he read with confidence and clarity from a trio of new books that have just come out. I don't know how to get ahold of them, but a good start would be to track Micah down at New College, where he works and teaches. He'll be quite happy that you looked him up, and will welcome you with his Louisiana charm. I'm sorry I don't have more intelligent things to say about his actual poems; it's quite a bit after the fact as I write this, and all but the memory of the buzz from the reading is blurry in my mind. I am a bit prejudiced towards Micah's style, however, because in at least one mode he's writing in the voice of old, dead characters, which is something I'm totally into.

Speaking of New College, this reading had a very funky NC flavor, as I knew it would, since both readers hail from that illustrious school. It was a delight to entertain the students, who swept over my modest offerings of fruit and chips and bread and cheese like a swarm of locusts, leaving nary a bottlecap or rind in their wake, and sneaking off frequently for roof-top spliffs.

Ryan Newton was the other reader, and he actually went first. Ryan is a young poet with a fantastic ear who has studied arduously under the tutelage of Tom Clark to hone that ear, and more and more it shows. His poems, while not yet displaying the breadth and depth of Micah's project, have a textual luminosity that lit up the whole room, as candles burned behind him. Look for better and better things to come from Mr. Newton.

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