Monday, May 25, 2015

Bison Heart and Other Delights

I feel pity for people who refuse to try something new. We're talking food here, but it could be applied to a wide variety of other experiences. On Memorial Day, a day in which people are often having cookouts and spending time with friends or family, it seemed like a good moment to share my bison heart adventure.

Last week I had a new experience that proved absolutely dazzling for my tongue. My son, who makes a living in the culinary trades, prepared a meal of pan seared bison heart, crab cakes, asparagus and ramp puree and bearnaise, with a salad of jumbo lump crab, asparagus, orange and upland cress with a citrus vinaigrette.

I'll admit I was bit insecure beforehand, but the explosion of flavors that tantalized my taste buds created a sense of sensory awe. Savoring every bite followed.

Just wanted to share it with someone, so I shared it with you.

* * * *
This afternoon, weather permitting, there will be some grilling, though I'm not yet sure what's on the menu as Chef Micah did the shopping yesterday. Meantime, here are some photos from other recent meals.

Preparing the crab cakes.
I always enjoy watching the prep work.
Care for some salad? Yumm. 
How about an appetizer?
English celebrity chef Jamie Oliver said, "What I've enjoyed most, though, is meeting people who have a real interest in food and sharing ideas with them. Good food is a global thing and I find that there is always something new and amazing to learn - I love it!" That seems to be what all the world's chefs seem to be doing these days.

As I see it, what's happening in the culinary field is similar to the Paris fashion scene works. Styles begin on the Runway and filter down to the masses through the Maurice's and Kohl's and Targets. In the same way, the culinary secrets that were once the domain of the elite are being shared with an increasingly broad audience. We're all beneficiaries.

Well, I'd better go make my breakfast. My mouth is watering.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Another Memorable Salute to the Music of Bob Dylan

Duluth Dylan Fest: Day Eight

Mid-day rehearsal.
It's Bob Dylan's birthday today. He's performing in Germany this weekend, so he'll miss the birthday bashes taking place in various parts of the country here. That's O.K. The music will go on.

Last year's Salute to the Music of Bob Dylan here at the Sacred Heart Music Center was so exceptionally received that the Armory Arts and Music Center (AAMC) decided to do it again, only with a twist. This year it would be an Acoustic Salute. And the event was stellar.

The assembled performers included many of last year's cast from the Salute, but also included a number of new names from our Northland region including The Boomchucks (Brad Nelson and Jamie Ness), Gaelynn Lee,  Rob Wheeler, Sam Miltich, Todd Eckart, lliot Silberman and myself. Returning faces (or voices) included Kenny Krona, Jim Hall, Courtney Yasmineh, Barbara Meyer, Billy Hallquist, Gene LaFond and Amy Grillo, Lonnie Knight and headliner Scarlet Rivera.

The show began with a couple of students from the AAMC performing music while the crowd sauntered in. A few minutes before showtime host/MC Marc Percansky introduced a special guest, Mayor Don Ness, who was one of the people who played a central role in bringing Bob Dylan Way to fruition. Mayor Ness was there to make an unexpected Official Proclamation. For her continuous support for our city and its history and the preservation of our resources and future, this day, this Perfect Duluth Day, would be henceforth remembered as Scarlet Rivera Day in Duluth.

This proved to be a really nice touch to make an even great day more special.

Backstage with Todd Eckart
The Boomchucks then kicked in with a pair of songs performed in their inimitable style, I Threw It All Away, and a nine minute version of Last Thoughts On Woody Guthrie.

The manner in which the concert was produced proved interesting. Rather than have setups after each performer, the various groups would come out in sets. This would allow a more efficient production. All the sound arrangements had been made during a mid-day rehearsal session.

While The Boomchucks' equipment was being torn down John Bushey, host of KUMD's Highway 61 Revisited, performed a bit of magic... and as always, blew a few minds.

The second set featured Gaelynn Lea, Kenny Krona and Rob Wheeler, Wheeler opening with Dignity. Krona played She Belongs to Me and Gaelynn Lea performed Let It Go. Many of us have been familiar with Ms. Lea's violin work, but the use of looping technologies produced some incredible sounds, especially when she performed a stunning rendition of All the Tired Horses. I think there were people picking their jaws off the floor after that. Kenny Krona also did Someone Let Me In and Rob Wheeler did Dreamer's Waltz in this set.

Scarlet working out her parts with Jim Hall
Jim Hall opened the third set with Tears of Rage (accompanied by Scarlet) and Courtney Y concluded it with one of her own songs, Hang On For The Ride. In between Elliot and I sang One Too Many Mornings. When Courtney was playing You're A Big Girl Now I badly wished to put in that harmonica lick I was hearing in my head, but I didn't know what key she was in. Alas....

As the night wore on the sets kept getting better, if that's at all possible. Set four featured Sam Miltich (Don't Think Twice and Girl from the North Country), Todd Eckart (Lay Lady Lay and My Sweet Friend), and Barbara Meyer (I'll Be Your Baby Tonight and Autumn Leaves.)

Mayor Ness proclaiming this to be Scarlet Rivera Day.
Highlights of the last set for me included Billy Hallquist's tender Tomorrow Is A Long Time, Gene LaFond and Amy Grillo's Born In Time, Lonnie Knight's All Along the Watchtower and Scarlet Rivera's Every Grain of Sand. And of course any time Scarlet performs something from Desire, such as One More Cup Of Coffee (Valley Below), there's electricity in the air.

So, in short, thank you to everyone involved in this stellar fundraising event for the Armory... too many to name, including sponsors.

Oh, and hats off to Bob Dylan. Happy 74th Birthday. Thank you for what you have inspired in us.

* * * *

A few quick reminders. There's a Bob Dylan Birthday Brunch at Tycoon's Alehouse this morning from 11 a.m. till 2 p.m. and Bob Dylan Birthday Cotillion featuring Scarlet Rivera, Gene LaFond and Amy Grillo tonight at the Clair Nelson Community Center in Finland.

If you're inclined to stay in town, the 19th Annual Battle of the Jugbands is taking place today at Amazing Grace from 1 - 8 p.m.

Music, music everywhere. It's a beautiful thing.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Momerial Day Weekend: Key Numbers

Danny Fox, Grog Time at Tycoon's
It's Saturday and here are some key numbers as we roll into Memorial Day weekend.

Day six of the 2015 Duluth Dylan Fest featured Danny Fox at Tycoon's Restaurant & Alehouse during Grog Time. When I arrived it was a surprisingly quiet and attentive crowd, in contrast to the usual manner in which musicians play in the background while those present enjoy chattering amongst themselves. Fox opened with a set of early Dylan songs that included Hollis Brown, Paths of Victory, Let Me Die In My Footsteps, Lay Down Your Weary Tune, Blowing in the Wind, All I really Want To Do, It Ain't Me Babe, It' All Over Now Baby Blue and many more. Fox has a sense of humor, introducing one song with the line, "This one's going to be a Bob Dylan tune." They were all Bob Dylan tunes.

Addison Israelson of Rochester, warming up backstage.
This is the first time the annual Singer/Songwriter Contest took place in Duluth and the first time it was hosted at The Red Herring. Rumor as it that proprietor Bob Monohan was unsure what kind of crowd this event would collect. I think he was pleasantly surprised.

The number of performers on the slate for the Singer/Songwriter Contest.

The number of songs each person or group sang, one Dylan tune and one of their own.

The hour today (a.m.) when the Dylan Fest Bus Tour is leaving the station (boarding at the Armory Annex.) This is an all day affair that will visit points of interest in both Duluth and Hibbing.

The hour tonight's Acoustic Salute to the Music of Bob Dylan at Sacred Heart Music Center will begin, featuring Twin Cities and local musicians with headliner Scarlet Rivera.

Tomorrow there are a few additional events of note. Amazing Grace down in Canal Park is hosting the 19th Annual Battle of the Jug Bands, which is not Dylan-themed but happens to be happening here and is homespun fun for all. From 1-8 p.m. you can catch it free, if you can get in. If the weather is nice a lot of the musicians will be jamming together outside as well.

Tomorrow will also be the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500.

The number on Jimmy Clark's Lotus Ford when he won the Indy 500 in 1965. Clark, from Scotland, was my favorite driver from the era, remembered as one of the greats. He died in a crash in April 1967 at the age of 32.

Tomorrow Bob Dylan will be somewhere in the world celebrating his 74th birthday, probably.

The number of muscles it takes to smile. Not sure how that works, as it seems so effortless with all the music and good vibes here in the Northland. We've done a lot of it this week.

The number of hours till the show starts tonight at Sacred Heart. Hope to see you there.

Meantime, life goes on all around you. Engage it.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Blood on the Tracks Express Bangs Out the Rhythm of the Rails for Duluth Dylan Fest Devotees

Here comes the train!
Last night was the fifth annual Blood on the Tracks Express experience during Duluth Dylan Fest, and gauging from the energy it was another memorable night for many. There's something about trains that connects with people. I myself am enamored with their power, and their history, which is so interwoven with our own history.

My earliest memory with regard to trains is from when my mom used to bring my brother Ron and I to Mrs. O'Ligney's in Cleveland while she was finishing nursing school. She had a steeply sloped back lawn that dropped off to the tracks behind the row of apartment houses. We were not allowed to go down to the tracks where the Rapid Transit would fly past, but I had not learned this till after I'd gone down there once to see the trains up close. I was maybe three or four at the time, and I could tell by the terror on her face, when I looked up into the yard, that something was wrong.

For many people railroads are endlessly fascinating. At age eight I crossed the continent by train with my grandparents, from Cleveland to Reno. This experience cemented my own fascination with railroads.

For a long time one of my favorite films was Runaway Train starring Jon Voight, Eric Roberts and Rebecca De Mornay. After setting up Voight as something of an existential hero, the rest of the film is one long train scene, a wild ride on a runaway train, a suspense-filled adventure as well as a metaphor for life.

If you think in terms of the history of the world, railroads are a relatively new invention. And when you learn about the history of Duluth and the Iron Range, where young Robert Zimmerman was raised, trains played a critical role in this region's development.

The Blood on the Tracks Express is a celebration of music that takes place on a moving stage. Or rather, it's a party on wheels, which discharges its passengers in Two Harbors and returns them to Duluth a little before midnight. I met new friends and old friends from England and France and Chicago and elsewhere. And our locals who, whether Dylan fans or no, know the music will be good.

The length of the train was surprising to me. At the front end there was a freight car set up with acoustic musicians playing, as in years past. On the way to Two Harbors we were treated to the Clover St. Cronies and Feeding Leroy. The return ride featured Tin Can Gin, a high energy bluegrass group who has been performing around the region from the Porcupine Mountains to Minneapolis and Duluth.

The middle cars had lots of seats, some double-decker style, and the ride up the shore is quite satisfying. The music of Bob Dylan provided a continuous accompaniment in most of these cars. There was even one car that was all dark. Something akin to a tunnel of love?

The other end of the train featured electric powerhouses Social Disaster, The Black-Eyed Snakes and Wolf Blood. And at the American Legion Hall in Two Harbors it's The Freehweelers (aka The Boomchucks) with Brad Nelson on drums and Jamie Ness vocals/lead guitar. The "after midnight" crowd could find still more music to enjoy upon returning to Fitgers, or one could save their energy for tonight's Singer/Songwriter contest (Red Herring) and tomorrow's Acoustic Salute to the Music of Bob Dylan.

Here are a few photos of what you missed.

Danny Fox (R) and his father from Chicago.
The Freewheelers, Brad Nelson (L) and Jamie Ness

Tonight Danny Fax is performing during Grog Time 5-7 p.m. at Tycoons. From there the music moves to The Red Herring Lounge for the Singer/Songwriter Competition. Be there.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Three Feet Away by Phil Fitzpatrick; Duluth Dylan Fest In Full Swing

Grog Time with Cowboy Angel Blue and the music of jammin' pickup Basement Tapes Band crammed the house at Tycoons last night here in Downtown Duluth. The Basement Tapes Band includes local A-players Marc Gartman, Sarah Krueger, Teague Alexey, Veikko Lepisto and "Big Mountain." If I understand correctly this was their first gig as a team, but I get the feeling it won't be their last.

Trivia: Gartman is a singer/songrwriter from New York who now resides in Duluth, celebrating a singer/songwriter born here who made a name for himself in New York.

Whereas every night has something happening, the energy levels accelerate as we stream through the week. Tonight is the Blood on the Tracks Express (we begin boarding at 5:30 p.m. at Fitgers), tomorrow eve the Singer/Songwriter contest (preceded by a 5-7 Grog Time featuring music by Jamie Fox, 2X winner of the Dylan Days Singer/Songwriter contest), Saturday is the Bus Tour which will touch sights here in Duluth and take in Hibbing sites as well, culminating in the Acoustic Salute to the Music of Bob Dylan followed by Sunday's Bob Dylan Birthday Brunch back at Tycoon's. Scarlet Rivera, the headliner for Saturday's show will be performing in Finland Sunday eve, along with Courtney Yasmineh, Gene LaFond and Amy Grillo, among others.  Details on most of this can be found here.

I already noted that Tuesday's poetry showcase was once again an exceptional event. With other activities (like a full time job) filling most of my days, I didn't get a chance to complete my review of the Red Mug happening. Liz Minette, who mentioned the time she saw Bob in concert, read some "road poems" and pieces she had published in Blue Collar Review. And Steve Donning gave us a nice reading of Surviving Extinction. But it was Phil Fitzpatrick's Three Feet Away that I especially wanted to share here today.

All the poets referenced a Bob memory, story or insight, but this is one that Fitz performed with style. The only drawback is that the formatting here may not identically match that of the printed page. Nevertheless, read it, "listen" and enjoy.

Three Feet Away

do you remember him, our hometown boy, at the Grammies, 1998?

playing “Sick of Love” and then Michael Portnoy, the Soy Bomb Guy
a furtive glance at the idiot, not skipping a beat
only thing he gave him was raised eyebrows
but, no, what I'm talkin' about is the speech, you know -
he accepts the statue (Album of the Year, Time Out of Mind)
accepts it in that grey suit
     black collar
          white shirt
                and black colonel tie
he looks uncomfortable. . . shy. . .like it really was a time out of mind
not sure how to proceed
        eyes dart this way and that
tryin' to sort out n' separate the true believers
        from the unbelievers
                and he always knows the difference
the speech is short, he's not using notes
the ritual thanks
        he knows all the names and rattles 'em off like song lyrics
they were all with him “in the trenches,” he says
more names, and then he says “oh, just every ol' body”

then out of nowhere really, remember? When he says . . .an' he looks like he's almost done,
                         an' he says, he says “An' I'd just like to say. . .”?
“An' I'd just like to say . . .”
      and the celebration quiets
             the fidgeting stops
                    folks quit tradin' glances
                           no more yelling “Bob!” to the camera
and he's not nervous anymore
      “An' I'd just like to say . . .”
                and then . . . and then the Armory, and the Winter Dance Party
and the word “Duh-LOOTH” and then a pause . . .
and then the rest of the story, the germ, the kernel, the seed planted:
        “I was three feet away from him, and he looked at me . . .”
        he and Holly,
                   Dylan 17 an' busy bein' born,
                   Holly 22 an busy dyin' . . .

[with a Texas accent] “Hey, you, Robert Zimmerman! Ready to carry it on, Boy! Ready to make us all proud, all of us up here? Now, I'm a Texan, you're a Minnesotan, but I guess that it doesn't matter anymore—an', ah, even though I've only got three chilly nights left to make music, even though I've only just gotten started and already got a couple hits out there—and, and you're still just a scrawny high school kid stuck up here playin' gigs with Bobby Vee, and even though I can see in your eyes some kinda destiny me and The Crickets here could never imagine, and even though I'm figurin' that someday you'll do arrangements of songs by fellers like Johnny Cash and John Lee Hooker and A. P. Carter, oh, an' Bob Nolan and Curtis Mayfield and dag-gone Ian and Sylvia—but none of mine, Kid, not even one of my B-sides?? Not “That'll Be the Day,” not “Every Day,” shoot, not even “Not Fade Away”? but, wait a minute, just a guess now, I THINK that maybe you will do a rockin' version of THAT one with some California band some day. . .even though I see all this true stuff right now, it's you, Robert, YOU that's the one person in this ol' building who can keep the music from dyin', who can sing the truth around the world, an' I don't just mean about injustice and treatin' people right an' all that, no sir: you'll be singin' about love, too—like I am right here tonight . . .

      every day, it's a-gettin' closer/Goin' faster . . .make it every day, Robert, . . .
      now that one's mine, but maybe you can try another one, somethin' like this one here:
      why wait any longer for the one you love/When he is standing in . . .
                       see what you can do with that one, Bobby . . .

look at you, you down there, busy bein' born 

and me up here—with these great guys, my travelin' buddies 
up here busy . . . busy dyin' 
         time to get busy . . . Bob Dylan . . . 
                   time to get busy time to stay busy 
                             and not fade away . . . “

[Dylan, again] “I just have some kind of feeling that he was, a . . . I don't know how or why but I know he was with us all the time when we were making this record in some kinda way . . .”

an' then Daniel Lanois takes the mic, and intones that “the words were hard, they were deep, they were desperate, they were strong”

of course they were,
       he was only three feet away

* * * *

Don't let the train leave the station without you. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Poetry Showcase at the Red Mug Energizes Duluth Dylan Fest 2015

From the opening moments the 2015 Dylan Fest poetry event was going to be something special. The Red Mug was packed and Jeffrey Woolverton, editor of Back Umbrella Books, was standing at the microphone. I was in the back and at first couldn't here what he was saying but being a Dylan event I thought he was just saying words to quiet the crowd as Bob Dylan did in England during the famous "Judas Conecrt" in 1960's. Except it wasn't nonsense Woolverton was babbling, rather it was the opening paragraph of Tarantula, and the gathered fans of poetry here quickly grew quiet, to listen and to hear. 

The poetry reading was a celebration of Northland voices and it is hard to imagine a more satisfying poetry event. The cast was stellar, the setting perfect, and everything else just right. 

Kudos to Jeffrey Woolverton for his efforts in coordinating local talent and for taking time to craft a program that would permit that talent to make this a real experience for those in attendance and those who came to share. A lot of work went into crafting author bios, and the introductions by MC Karen Sunderman whose enjoyment of the local arts is so very genuine and without artifice. 

The addition of Richie Townsend into the mix was an unexpected element that has been incorporated into a number of events I've attended the past two or three years, a quiet musical accompaniment that flows beneath the soaring winging of words. 

The poets themselves came prepared to enjoy this literary celebration... and Dylan. The unexpected Tarantula segment proved to set the bar for all of us who were reading, and the first reader only served to keep it high, Jim Johnson, the 2014-2016 Poet Laureate of the Duluth and Minnesota Book Award Finalist.

Johnson read close to seven poems from several of his books of books on Northland themes begining with At Eagle Lake and a poem about logging trucks to Driving Winter Roads ("to locate a raven locate a kill, to locate a kill locate a raven") to his Great Blue Heron. After the light-hearted material he then shared his poem "1918" and it was apparent why Johnson has received the recognition he has. He introduced the poem with brevity. "Enough of that happy stuff," making a reference to Desolation Row which begins with a reference to the Duluth lynchings downtown in 1919. No one that I'm aware of recalls the lynching that took place the previous year at Lester River, the subject of the poem, the hanging of Ollie Kinkonen, a Finnish immigrant. Powerful stuff.

Sheila Packa, our former poet laureate, author of four books of poetry who hails from the Iron Range and has that red ore dust in his veins, was next introduced. She's been a strong voice for women, the environment and workers. She opened with Mr. Robin ("Let me be as kind...") followed by a poem rich with imagery called Vestiges ("timbers splintered to wet matches"), an Iron Range influenced "Keg Party" that looked at the future from the point of view of youth, a piece called Equinox, and a piece called Mine Pit Blessing ("to flow away from the oceans we once called home.")  Ms. Packa closed with a poem from her book Night Train and Red Dust called Not Forgotten. 

Ed Newman was next, introduced as Ennyman. My reading included a poem I wrote in Puerto Rico in 1979 called Tracks In The Sand, followed by several recent poems. Just reading the title of It's Time To Get Tired brought laughs, as we've all been there. It is a humorous lament of a failing relationship... between me and sleep. I followed this with a winter lament called When the Snow Fell, followed by Friday Night at Rest and closing with Private Ryan, inspired by the opening scene of the film Saving Private Ryan, acknowledging the connections between Dylan and Hollywood as well as the notion of giving back.

Kathleen Roberts, Literary Director for the PROVE Collective, followed with a handful of pointed and thoughtful pieces. I was excited when I saw that a number of younger literary artists were on the program, and Roberts has been playing a leadership role in this scene the past several years. Her poems included 53 Junctions, Auto Prophet, one whose title I missed and I Know the Sound of Grass Growing at One A.M. in the Morning in March, which as unusual as it sounds managed to become something we could all relate to. Sometimes poets write the things we often leave unsaid and thereby their words connect us to the universal unsaid, a variation on the Jungian notion of unversal consciousness.

Bob Monohan always comes with a surprise, so it's no surprise when he opened with "I was anxious and now I am drunk." Monohan has a measured style that comes across as unmeasured, a natural gift of self-deprecation while making you laugh or think or just enjoy the word play. His first poem, A Case for Inanimate Friends produced all three reactions. Different Day was a bizarre and surreal hand grenade, followed by a poem called Duane (or Dwayne?). Three Short Poems About Microwaves was followed by a paeon about drugs. His last two pieces were On Working, and "I Wish."

The rest of the evening included readings by Liz Minette, Phil Fitzpatrick, Donald Dass, Steve Downing, and a special add-on Chuck Walton whose grandfather was a Lithuanian Jew who lived near the Zimmerman home on Duluth's Central Hillside. 

As time permits I will share a little more from this and other Dylan Fest events in the mornings ahead. Meantime, tonight it's Grog Time at Tycoons and an evening of Dylan-inspired music. Perhaps we'll see you there....

And of course, the highlight of the evening last night... Dylan performing as the last musical guest on Letterman. Perfect song to close with, "The Night They Called It A Day."

Thank you Suzanne Johnson for inviting us into your space again this year, and for all the embellishments you added to another great event.

Meantime, life goes on all around you. Explore it.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Miscellaneous Thoughts On Writing Poetry

"I hate writing, but love having written." ~Dorothy Parker

Tonight is Day 3 of Duluth Dylan Fest, which includes a poetry event at the Red Mug Coffeehouse in Superior. It will be an interesting mix of poets older and younger voices. Karen Sunderman of The Playlist is serving as guest host with Richie Townsend playing an accompaniment to the readings. The event begins at 6:30 with a reception followed by readings by ten local poets.

What is a poem? A Google search offers up this answer:
a piece of writing that partakes of the nature of both speech and song that is nearly always rhythmical, usually metaphorical, and often exhibits such formal elements as meter, rhyme, and stanzaic structure.

What I get from this is (a) that it is a category of writing that is (b) "nearly always" (note the qualifier) rhythmical, (c) usually (another qualifier) metaphorical, and (d) often (a third qualifier) exhibits formal elements.

In a world of change and chaos, the definition itself exhibits the uncertainty of a world in which no one is certain of their definitions anymore. Literature experienced the same assault over the past century as art and philosophy.

I think it noteworthy that most of the definition defines the style of presentation, and the only piece of the definition that actually touches on the content or purpose of the poem is that it is "usually metaphorical." And perhaps in the mind of the general public these elements are what make a piece of writing a poem: it rhymes, has a meter and is delivered in stanzas. takes a more extended dive into what makes a piece of writing a poem, although Garrison Keillor has the ability to make reading the phone book sound like a poem.

Poetry (ancient Greek: ποιεω (poieo) = I create) is an art form in which human language is used for its aesthetic qualities in addition to, or instead of, its notional and semantic content. It consists largely of oral or literary works in which language is used in a manner that is felt by its user and audience to differ from ordinary prose.

It may use condensed or compressed form to convey emotion or ideas to the reader's or listener's mind or ear; it may also use devices such as assonance and repetition to achieve musical or incantatory effects. Poems frequently rely for their effect on imagery, word association, and the musical qualities of the language used. The interactive layering of all these effects to generate meaning is what marks poetry.

Because of its nature of emphasizing linguistic form rather than using language purely for its content, poetry is notoriously difficult to translate from one language into another: a possible exception to this might be the Hebrew Psalms, where the beauty is found more in the balance of ideas than in specific vocabulary. In most poetry, it is the connotations and the "baggage" that words carry (the weight of words) that are most important. These shades and nuances of meaning can be difficult to interpret and can cause different readers to "hear" a particular piece of poetry differently. While there are reasonable interpretations, there can never be a definitive interpretation.

One of the developments in our current poetry scene seems to be that there are a growing number of events in which poetry is being performed. Poetry Slams have popularized a certain kind of oral presentation in which it almost seems that the poet is judged more by the performance than the poem itself.

For some reason a lot of people don't really get into poetry, much the same as the many who do not relate well to modern art. I'm not sure if this was caused by the way it's taught in the schools or whether it's just uncomfortable for people when they fear they don't "get it." I dunno. What I do know is that I for one truly enjoy a witty twist of words, or the cleverness concealed and then revealed in a tightly written bit of prose.... or simply the imaginative and innovative ways ideas can get packaged.

Tonight I'm expecting a really special event. There are a number of readers I have always enjoyed hearing and/or reading. It's a line-up of local poets that includes the 2014-16 Duluth Poet Laureate Jim Johnson, past Duluth Poet Laureate Sheila Packa, Ellie Schoenfeld, Bob Monahan, Kathleen Roberts, Amy Waugh, Phil Fitzpatrick, Liz Minette, Don Dass, Jeffrey Woolverton and myself, probably the least worthy of this batch and quite honored to have been invited.

Here's an excerpt from The Playlist featuring local poet Kathleen Roberts.

Meantime, life goes on all around you. Explore it.