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Poetry fest highlights N.C., other writers


Carrboro Poetry Festival


By Susan Broili : The Herald-Sun
May 31, 2004 : 7:23 pm ET

CARRBORO -- The town's poet laureate, Patrick Herron, has delivered on a promise and will present the first Carrboro Poetry Festival this coming weekend.

The free event will take place Saturday and Sunday at The Century Center.

On his application for the position first filled by Kate Lovelady, Herron said that one of the things he'd do as the town's bard would be to organize a poetry festival.

He had his first meeting about it even before he officially became poet laureate on July 4 of last year. "I got under way right away," Herron said.

The festival he fashioned will offer 15 hours of poetry by 40 poets from the Triangle and elsewhere.

North Carolina poets include Carl Martin, Gerald Barrax, Jaki Shelton Green, Lou Lipsitz, John Balaban, Judy Hogan, Paul Jones, Jay Bryan and Doug Stuber.

Herron also has invited people he considers some of the best young poets in the United States, including Linh Dinh, K. Silem Mohammad and Lee Ann Brown.

Brown, a Charlotte native, is also a filmmaker and performer who lives in New York. Her work has been included in numerous anthologies, including "Best American Poetry 2001."

"She's a really fine poet that has a great sense of music in her work," Herron said.

Mohammad, from California, "has an interesting style, darkly comic. His book, 'Deer Head Nation,' has a spookiness in it," Herron said.

Dinh, whose work appears in "Best American Poetry 2000," as well as "Great American Prose Poems from Poe to the Present," has a style "somewhat trangressive or shocking to people," Herron said.

The poets "reflect a lot of tastes," and are so diverse as far as age, aesthetics, world view and writing styles that they would not ordinarily be featured at the same event, Herron said.

"A lot of it's cultural cross-pollination," Herron said.

The selection of poets reflects Herron's own diverse tastes. He chose poets whose work he knew, as well as others he learned about by word-of-mouth, read and liked.

Audiences at the festival will be able to hear poetry that's deserving of attention but isn't easily available here, or work by those underrepresented in the local poetic milieu, Herron said.

"There's a lot of great poetry that doesn't make it here," Herron said.

As for the local poets in the festival lineup, many are outside the accepted mainstream of poetry.

"They're not your typical crew," Herron said. "It's a little more feisty than what people kind of imagine poetry to be."

Herron will read, too. His publishing credits include "The Iowa Review" and "Exquisite Corpse," and his work tends to be on the "esoteric" side, according to his wife, Janet. For example, one of his poems consists entirely of synonyms for death written in a musical form he invented.

He hopes the festival sparks more interest in a broader range of poetry.

"I think it's good for the town to be part of big things happening in the literary world," Herron said.

After all, Carrboro is the only town in the state with its own poet laureate.

"Carrboro is really gung-ho about the arts. It's a top community value. You can walk about this town and you can't spit without hitting a musician, a sculptor [or] an artist," Herron said.


What: Carrboro Poetry Festival featuring 40 poets from the Triangle and elsewhere.

When: Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 12:30-9 p.m.

Where: The Century Center on the corner of South Greensboro and Weaver streets in Carr-boro.

Cost: Free.

More info: For a schedule, biographical information, interviews as well as some examples of poetry, see www.carrboropoetryfestival.org.

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