Arkansas Literary Festival’s Pub or Perish 2011


I posted the following review of Jessie Carty‘s book Paper House on Amazon:

“Discovering your parents aren’t perfect is the childhood equivalent to losing one’s religion – yet Jessie Carty handles such a realization with a profound grace laced with (somehow) maintained innocence in this brilliant first book from a poet who might best be described as the Princess of Tides. Written from the perspective of a young woman, but with such a universal voice that I, as a gay man, can recall my own coming of age, Paper House is like reading the diary of a survivor from childhood through early adulthood. If Judy Blume and Pat Conroy had a lovechild, this is the collection of poetry she’d create.”

If you need more reasons to discover Jessie Carty, well, here are three:

Mixed Drinks by Jessie Carty from PAPER HOUSE

Saturday at Merchant Mill Pond by Jessie Carty from PAPER HOUSE

While We Were Unattended by Jessie Carty from PAPER HOUSE


I also wanted to share with you a couple of poems by friends which are personal favorites:

doppelganger by Vic Kondratas (for the original click here)

Add Vice by Val B. Russell (for the original click here)


Dear Readers (and Dear Listeners),

Please recognize that I sat sweltering in my Honda Civic in the parking lot of a Vietnamese restaurant for you in order to capture these recordings.  That’s how much I love you. I sacrifice.  Please also recognize that for my entire life, through about an hour ago, I thought the word was doppeldanger with a second ‘d.’ Therefore I will never pronounce it the correct way. What the hell is a doppelganger? It sounds like some freaky porn film.  To console myself, I’ll take comfort in the fact that MedicatedLady pronounces herb with an audible ‘h.’

Loverboy and I are going to Jazzfest this weekend.  A seven-hour drive Friday and Sunday nights with some alcohol consumption in between.  When in New Orleans…


Here’s the “Shake”-y video of my reading of Bite at the Arkansas Literary Festival – it’s what you get when you use a cheap digital camera – but still, I’m glad to have a memento of my public poetic debut. In addition to Bite, I read Of My Science and Her Poetics and Spammed.

I arrived at the event complete with entourage – 17 people came to support me and the overall turnout was good at roughly 100 or so. I was the curtain jerker, going on first, but I that allowed me to enjoy the rest of the evening.  It was exhilarating, exciting, wonderful, terrifying, fun, and, in a way, life-altering.  Thanks to everyone who came out!

Here was the official lineup of the event, with four local open mic-ers (including me) reading alongside six established writers.



SCOTT STANDRIDGE: Scott Standridge is a poet, short story writer, and the former editor of City Slab magazine, From 2006 to 2007 he wrote a new original sonnet every day for a year. His poem “Noir, #28” was a finalist for the 2008 Howard Nemerov Sonnet Award. His poetry has also appeared in The Hypertexts, Dreams and Nightmares, and Modern Drunkard Magazine. He lives in Little Rock.

DOROTHY ALLISON: A native of Greenville, South Carolina, Dorothy Allison is one of the best writers working today. Her books of poetry and fiction include Trash, The Women Who Hate Me, Cavedweller, Two or Three Things I Know for Sure and Bastard out of Carolina, which was a finalist for the National Book Award.

OPEN MIC: DONALD STREIT (Very cool political-tinted poetry)

MAUREEN SMITH MCGOVERN – Maureen McGovern is a painter, poet and actress. A former newspaper journalist and magazine writer, she appeared in the films “The Pigman” and “The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds.” She lives in Fairfield Bay with her husband, Don

OPEN MIC: LENNON SIMPSON (A Slam poet – one “traditionalist” poet had called his style “The McDonalds of poetry” earlier in the day – and he preceded his performance by telling her to fuck herself because he likes Big Macs. I was very happy Lennon participated because he brought a burst of energy to the event.)

RANDI ROMO: Randi Romo is an old friend of Pub or Perish, A resident of Little Rock, Randi is very passionate about the struggle for equal rights for our gay and lesbian neighbors and other oppressed people in Arkansas: or, as she put it: a Passionate Queer Chicana Word-Spitting Art-Making Warrior-Woman Activist who is trying hard to be the change she wants to see in the world. Randi is the co-founder and the current director of the Center for Artistic Revolution, a Little Rock arts and culture action group.

CHRISTINA HENRIQUEZ: Cristina Henríquez is a graduate of Northwestern University and the famous Iowa Writer’s Workshop. A resident of Chicago, her stories have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Glimmer Train, Ploughshares, and TriQuarterly. She is the author of the novel The World In Half and the short story collection Come Together, Fall Apart.

OPEN MIC: BRE SCHRADER (Bre brought STD awareness to Pub or Perish and I think we’re all better for it.)

PAUL LAKE: A native of Baltimore, poet and novelist Paul Lake is a professor of English at Arkansas Tech University. His poetry and essays have appeared in Southern Review, Paris Review, Sewanee Review, Poetry and many others. He is the author of the poetry collection Another Kind of Travel, and the novel Among the Immortals, a literary thriller about poets and vampires. In June of 2008, he published his second novel, Cry Wolf, a political fable about a farm called Green Pastures.

Here’s a couple of photos – one of my co-workers who came out to cheer me on – complete with signs (The one here says “Bryan’s BFF’s” – that’s Best Friends Forever – and then there’s the obligatory photo of me with a beer beforehand, because, really, poetry and alcohol go together like poetry contests and expensive entry fees.

For serious – thank you to all my friends and especially to my love Christopher, who endured me reading my poetry endlessly in the days leading up to Pub or Perish.