Saturday, December 1, 2012

Collaborative Learning & Poetry Readings

The Steiny Road Poet (a.k.a. Karren Alenier) has been saying for a long time don't go into the woods alone when you can collaborate and possibly learn something you would not have seen or noticed otherwise.


Therefore when her colleague and friend Margo Stever said, let's go to California to do some readings, she thought, OK worth a try. She tried to do this alone back in the 90's and while she got a beautiful venue (an art gallery in downtown San Francisco), only a handful people attended despite the formally printed and snail mailed invitations sent to the literary community there.


Right away Margo and Karren got a reading at Beyond Baroque in Venice, CA. Margo has a contact in the Los Angeles area who said she would help get audience. That's an offer greater than gold for a poet—or two poets in this case.

Margo Stever and Karren Alenier will be reading with David Del Bourgo and Andrea Carter Brown, who are based in the LA area. LA poet Mary Armstrong, a colleague of Margo's, recommended David not only because she admires his writing but also because he has an active relationship with Beyond Baroque. The Steiny Poet knows Andrea by their mutual connection to the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, an arts colony not far from Charlottesville.


San Francisco was much harder. It took six months and a changing cast of readers to land a bookstore reading for Poetry in Red Dress, the program Karren designed based on a conversation with San Francisco-based poet Evelyn Posamentier. This reading now features Evie, Margo, Karren and Mary Mackey. Andrea Carter Brown put Karren in touch with Mary as a result of all three having poems in Entering the Real World: VCCA Poets on Mt. San Angelo, an anthology Andrea edited to raise money for the VCCA.

The Red Dress reading draws inspiration from Muriel Rukeyser and Gertrude Stein. It's an opportunity for readers and audience alike to learn more about these two literary giants and their views on writing and poetry.


The Steiny Poet has been taking the online Coursera Modern Poetry (ModPo) this fall. The course taught by Al Filreis attracted over 35,000 students worldwide and it has given the Steiny Poet a new perspective on active learning with others. She has been spending time with the DC ModPo participants and she is hoping to connect with the Modpo community in San Francisco and LA.

Yes, indeed, it takes a village to make poetry live!

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