#ArtLitPhx: Four Chambers presents Get Lit: Rupi Kaur, Instagram Poets, and the Politics of Craft

Get Lit Graphic

Inspired by the literary and philosophical salons of 17th century France, Four Chambers presents Get Lit: Rupi Kaur, Instagram Poets, and the Politics of Craft. Every month, Four Chambers hosts a night of conversation, community, and drinking with Phoenix Poet Laureate and ASU Lecturer of English Rosemarie Dombrowski, PhD.

This month’s event will take place Thursday, November 2nd, from 7pm to 8pm. It will be held in the Reading Room inside the Rose Room at Valley Bar (Basement, 130 North Central Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85004). Valley Bar is located on Monroe St down the alley between Central and 1st Ave. Space is limited, so arrive early to make sure you can get a seat!

This month’s discussion topic is “Rupi Kaur, Instagram Poets, and the Politics of Craft.” Kat Hofland, rinky dink editor and poet, will be the guest host for the discussion. About the topic, Four Chambers writes,

What do we mean when we say someone is or isn’t a ‘real’ poet? Is ‘poetry’ an elitist and exlcusionary institution? What are the politics of consuming art within a larger cultural marketplace? Is Kaur’s poetry actually good? Who gets to define ‘good’? Who gets to define poetry? Is saying something is ‘good’ just another way of saying we like something or can it actually be good? Should we even be talking about this? Are we just adding to the hype? Does this have to be a good or a bad thing for poetry? What *is* poetry? What does Rupi Kaur’s success mean?

For more information about the event and to RSVP, head over to the Facebook page. You can also click here to find out more about Four Chambers Press.

Authors Talk: Emily Townsend

Today we are pleased to feature author Emily Townsend as our Authors Talk series contributor. Emily speaks about finding her place in creative nonfiction, her “arbitrary” research process, and her complicated relationship with honeybees.

Emily captures the beauty of nonfiction writing concisely by noting its unique ability to allow writers to “untangling facts that [are] often left undiscovered.” Her podcast ranges from eloquent tidbits to candidly pointing out personal weaknesses in a way that makes the recording just as engaging and thought-provoking as her essay.

You can read Emily’s essay and hear her read it aloud in Superstition Review Issue 17.

Authors Talk: Maureen Seaton

Today we are pleased to feature poet Maureen Seaton as our Authors Talk series contributor. Maureen speaks about the way that her poems began and her love of poetic form.

Maureen describes her poems as “fraternal twins” that were born from a state of shock after her first bout with breast cancer. She notes her future’s ambiguity asking “I wonder what I would be today if….” That ambiguity is reflected in the poems’ simultaneous “straightforwardness” and complexity, their connection and their difference. The surface differences are in full view in the poems’ forms, which Maureen discusses.

You can read and listen to Maureen’s poems in Issue 19.

Authors Talk: Amber Burke

Today we are pleased to feature author Amber Gross as our Authors Talk series contributor. She speaks about the similarities between writing and acting. Experience and emotion and how they manifest in concrete ways lend themselves to both in her craft.

You can read Amber’s short story, “Shooting Day” here.

 

Guest Post: Bill Gaythwaite, Continents Away

Photo of a globe and fountain

Photo by Tom Westburgh

When I was just out of college, a man I barely knew left me some inheritance money. He had been a friend of my father’s when they were both very young. This man didn’t have any family, had never partnered up or had any kids of his own, so when he died, his estate was to be divided up among the children of his old friends. I’d met him maybe two or three times in my whole life, when he’d come to visit my family in Boston from his home in rural Maine. These were awkward meetings. He seemed much older than my father, spoke with a thick Maine accent and wasn’t used to being around children. His first name was Wesley, which seemed to fit. He’d ask me the standard questions about school or sports, which I would grudgingly answer, while my parents looked on, raising their eyebrows at me, willing me to be more polite. I did my best, but I couldn’t wait to be excused and dodge the guy.

Later, of course, getting a windfall from this odd, shadowy figure would be a big surprise. It was not exactly an amount I could retire on.  Not trust fund money or anything. I think it was a little over $4000. But since my family wasn’t wealthy by any stretch, and it was over thirty years ago (when this sum went a lot further) I considered it a fortune. I got a lot of advice about what I should do with it, which mostly centered on putting it in the bank or using it to pay off some school loans. But there was never any question. I was going to travel. I was afflicted with a serious case of wanderlust back then. I’d been lucky enough to study in Italy for a semester and travel a little in Europe. Now I wanted to see everywhere else.

I bought a round-the-world ticket from a now defunct airline and first flew to Tokyo. I had no set plans really, from one day to the next, though I’d had to secure some visas before I left home and get some shots in my ass and had started taking malaria pills too.  Aside from the plane ticket, this was going to be shoestring travel. I was always keenly aware of how much money I had left.  If I didn’t spend cash on lodging or food, I’d be able to travel longer, further. A youth hostel or a room in a YMCA was a real luxury on that trip. I spent a lot of nights sleeping in train stations or airports or simply curled up outside.  I was gone the better part of a year, made it to over 30 countries and lost 40 pounds. Somehow I still came home with a few bucks in my pocket.

I did a lot of stupid things on that trip. I was too trusting by half and got ripped off a few times. As an over-privileged American, I probably deserved it. I got lost, missed travel connections and made a mess of basic phrases in a variety of languages. Still, by the time I reached Bombay I was feeling invincible. (This was before the city’s name was changed to Mumbai.) I drank water out of a trough on a filthy street and then was miserably ill for several weeks. Given the real suffering in India, I didn’t have a right to complain too much. I learned some things when I was traveling. One time a local man in Kowloon quite accurately called me an idiot when I gushed about how much I loved Hong Kong, how I’d love to live there. He asked me what I could possibly know about what it meant to live anywhere, other than where I was actually from. “You rich tourists are all alike,” he snapped.  “You see what you want to see.” I hardly felt like a rich tourist. I hadn’t eaten for a day and I was staying in an overcrowded flophouse, but he was right, of course. No matter what my personal circumstances, I had a rich person’s opportunity. I was, after all, traveling around the world. I didn’t fully understand what this man meant until much later, but it humbled me enough to know when I should keep quiet.  One of the reasons I liked traveling alone was because no one was there to see me screw up in these ways or fight with me about directions or tell me which museums to see. I liked the idea of controlling my own narrative and there was something very freeing about doing that half-way around the world, continents away from anyone who knew me by name. The memory of that freedom has stayed with me.

Another real gift of that trip is that it was the beginning of my writing life. Alone in the evening, wherever I was settled for the night, I’d pull out my notebook from my backpack and write about what I’d seen that day, quick snapshots of my life on the road. I was quite faithful to this little journal.  I also had another notebook where I started writing stories and some poems, which I guarded feverishly for fear this book would wind up in the wrong hands — meaning anyone with a passing knowledge of the English language. The work was terrible (this is not modesty) but at least I was doing it. I liked the idea of putting words down at the end of the day, of creating characters and plots, imagining dialogue.

Maybe that’s one of the reasons why I was never lonely on that trip. Not once. I was creating other lives and situations to keep me company. The writing itself might have been triggered by my travels through China, Thailand, Egypt, and all those other astonishing places, but the nightly ritual of jumping into the work didn’t go away when I came home. It remained part of my life when I moved to New York City and then on trips to other countries in my twenties and early thirties. (Wanderlust percolated in my system for a long time.)

Later, as a busy suburban dad, when I wasn’t going anywhere more exotic than the Jersey Shore, my writing habits stayed with me too. I never felt right if I didn’t spend a little time on my work before I turned in for the night, even if that meant only editing a paragraph. Mine is often a slow process, but it’s a deliberate and fairly constant one. Today this all feels more like reflex than habit, as if my writing routine is hardwired into me, a kind of muscle memory. Wesley couldn’t have known what I’d do with his inheritance and I couldn’t have imagined the impact it would have on me to this day.  I will always be very grateful to him.  And I do still think of Wesley, in fleeting moments and sometimes longer.

Authors Talk: Marylyn Tan

Marylyn Tan bio photoToday we are pleased to feature author Marylyn Tan as our Authors Talk series contributor. She talks about the creative process she used to write her poem “bvtch swag.” She explains the significance of the opening quote and how it related to her personal life.

 

You can access Marylyn’s poem “bvtch swag” here.