Let the wordplay begin.
Billy the Kid and John Dillinger are hiding in the shadow of America post nine eleven, and their muse, outlaw blues poet Tony Moffeit, is pounding on a drum, telling their stories. Moffeit, accompanied by Rick Terlep on the guitar, will kick off Poetry Rendezvous 2010, this Friday at the Barton County Arts Center.
The three-day Poetry Rendezvous is based at the Arts Center, located at 1401 Main St. in Great Bend. There’s no charge to come and listen to poets, starting with Moffeit at 7:30 p.m. Friday; no charge to attend poetry workshops, like the one at 10:15 a.m. Saturday on "Words and Language," by Carol Hamilton, from Midwest City, Okla.; and no charge to join the open-mic readings, which will go on for most of Saturday and next Sunday, Sept. 19, said George Martin, one of the organizers.
"We will read poetry until no one wants to read any more," Martin said.
By the end of the rendezvous, active participants can have their work "published," also at no charge. On Sunday they will assemble keepsake anthologies, said Michael Hathaway, creator of Chiron Review literary magazine, a sponsor of the Poetry Rendezvous since it began in 1988 at the Great Bend Public Library. Anyone who contributes to the anthology will receive one free copy. (Additional copies are $5.) Assembly starts around 11:30 p.m., when people are invited to bring 50 or more copies of pages for the anthology. "All pages should be 8 1/2 by 11, regular letter size, but poets can use both sides of the page, and any color and texture of their choice," Hathaway said.
There will be a tribute to longtime Poetry Rendezvous participant Todd Moore, who died earlier this year, at 7 p.m. Saturday.
"Todd Moore was an English teacher back in Chicago," Martin said, and best known for his long poem, "Dillinger." His father, an alcoholic, knew a lot about John Dillinger, and was full of stories. "Todd began writing poetry in a straight-line style ... you would go top to bottom very quickly, and in the middle there would be an acerbic edge," Martin said. After Moore moved to Albuquerque, he began writing a mythical conversation between Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp. In catching the edginess of two legends, this piece of fiction is almost shocking, and more real than nonfiction. Several people will read from this series during the tribute.
Moffeit and Moore claimed to have founded the Outlaw Poetry Movement in America. In 1983, Moffeit’s chapbook "Outlaw Blues" was published. He’s been compared to the Beat poets Kerouac and Ginsberg, or more aptly to less commercial poets of that movement, howling his poems as he beats on a drum. In 1995 he published "Poetry is Dangerous, The Poet is an Outlaw." He and Rick Terlep, both from Pueblo, Colo., released a CD in 2008 titled "Outlaw Blues Revolution." They have performed together nationwide.
Hathaway sees Chiron Review as an "outlaw" publication; not tainted by public money, he is not afraid of breaking written or unwritten taboos that create "a brick wall that is known as ‘silent censorship’ and is an inevitable fact of life in our society," he said.
Poetry Rendezvous isn’t only for outlaws, however. "It is for poets and poetry lovers of all kinds — beginning poets, accomplished poets and all poets in between," Hathaway said. "All are welcome to come and read their work or just listen if they are too shy to read in public."
Martin described a few of the styles people can expect to hear, from his own précis stories, where he attempts to get the most out of the least number of words, to Steve Sassman’s sexual writing. Kyle Laws, coming from Colorado, is "very metrical," Martin said, and Ruth Moon Kempher writes women’s poetry that tells the listener, "been there, done that; still a woman and always will be." Whatever the style, Martin said, "There is a freedom in poetry."
The mic will be open to the public for round-robin readings from 2:15 to 5 p.m. Saturday and starting again at 7:30 p.m.
At noon Sunday, George and Karen Kline-Martin will lead a literary soiree. Their topic will be "Poetry in Protest: Political & Personal." This will be followed by more open round-robin readings.