Just now I hit the SEND button on my manuscript for "Nobody Cares What You Think" my first full-length book of poetry, coming not-soon from Finishing Line Press. Pub date is January 10, 2025; presales will start in September. Now, it's really time to start the holidays!
I try, but mostly I can't shut up...
Busy times at Charlotte Art League this Fall... good thing I've been doing some new paintings I'm really pleased with. I'll have a "little" in the Miniatures show opening Friday, Nov 8. Then in December, opening December 8, I'm managing CAL's "Renters Only" show. It's an exhibit featuring the art of studio and wall renters at the League. I'll have two paintings in the Renters Only show as well, including this one, which is oil on board, 11x14". It's titled Arcadia Marsh #5. I hope to get something into the juried Winter Show in December as well. I did several small Fall scenes in Michigan last week when I was there - the color was glorius. So stay tuned for those.
I'm managing an exhibit at Charlotte Art League for December/January, and another ekphrastic show for May. Hard to believe it, but they are both herding cats and requiring attention, timelines, etc. already!
The December/January show is called Renter Only and will feature those of us renting wall or studio space at the CAL. We're going to spin things for the holidays by offering instant sales, so lookers can choose hoiday gifts and take them home on the spot, rather than wait until the end of show.
The ekphrastic show for May 2024 is "1+1 = 3" and it will be juried with prizes. I'll be doing a couple of workshops locally in January to get people geared up for it. Stay tuned for more info on that. I'll be hunting people down to participate :).
Coming off the tail end of pnumonia, I trudged up Pompey's Knob to attend Tablerock Writers at Wildacres again this year. It's hard to call it a workshop frankly. Our poetry leader, the inimitable Phillip Shabazz, doesn't give "homework" while we're there -- he calls it "homefun" and that rings perfectly. You'll not find a better collection of good, solid writers and readers to help move your work along. I wrote some new stuff, workshopped some that I brought, and just generally had an ideal writerly break in a setting ideally suited.
Wildacres is a happy place for me, and I think for everyone. The only complaint anyone ever has is with the matresses. Ah. Well, it's always something, right? Me, I slept fine with windows open and in a room with a happy roomate who was zonked out enough to not be disturbed by the last vestiges of my sick.
All hail Tablerock and The Free State of Shabazz.
It's almost time for Table Rock Writers Workshop at Wildacres. One of my favorite places in the world, Wildacres, hosts Gerogann Eubanks and Donna Campbell's perfect storm of setting, support, and wonderful writers and musicians -- Table Rock Writers. It is an exquisite combination of hard work and yuck-it-up fun. I don't think there's a better anything like it. I have already been thinking and scheming for the last month doing elaborate preparation, figuring out important shit like, which pens, which notebooks, what reading material, do I bring any art supplies, etc. This year might be a bit more tricky for me though because I've managed to contract pnumonia, so I've been down for the count the last couple of weeks. But, a doctor visit today confirms there's no reason I can't go, I just may have to cool my jets some, ditch hiking, and maybe inject some naps into the schedule. WILDACRES OR BUST!
This Charlotte weather is really, really messing with me. I took this photo last night from my balcony in uptown Charlotte. The sunset set these buildings on fire, with the dark sky behind them. It pretty much represents how I feel in this ongoing hotbox of a place.
I had a delightful chat about writing and art and making stuff, with fellow Goucher Gother, Tandy Culpepper this week. You can see/hear it here:https://youtu.be/pgJbcNQ9EbI
The beauty of these kind of things is, you can tell me to shut up, advance the vid, or do anything you want! Tandy is a fab interviewer with decades of experience, so it was a great experience for me. Check it out.
Storied Charlotte features Chris and writing and baseball this week... https://pages.charlotte.edu/mark-west/blog/category/storied-charlotte/
Celebrating Baseball Poetry with Chris Arvidson
March 27, 2023 by Mark West
For Chris Arvidson, now is a special time of the year. As a lifelong baseball fan, Chris is looking forward to March 30, which is Opening Day for Major League Baseball's 2023 season. As a Charlotte poet, Chris is also looking forward to April, which is National Poetry Month. Chris's love of baseball and her interest in writing poetry are reflected in her two most recent books. In 2017, she published a co-edited volume titled The Love of Baseball: Essays by Lifelong Fans. In 2022, she published a poetry collection titled The House Inside My Head. For readers who want to know more about Chris and her publications, please click on the following link: https://www.chrisarvidson.com/index.htm
I contacted Chris and asked her how she is preparing for this special week. Here is what she sent to me:
I have been searching for some Faygo Red Pop, and I'm dismayed to find that neither Harris Teeter nor Publix seems to carry it any longer. Red Pop, a Detroit original, is my favored choice of beverage for opening day. I shall persevere and figure out where to find it before March 30, when my Detroit Tigers play their first game of the season. On March 31, I'll be at the Charlotte Knights ballpark, in glorious anticipation of the summer to come. I cannot deny that I tear-up for the national anthem that first Spring outing…every time.
Just last week, I stumbled upon The National Baseball Poetry Festival on Facebook. The organizers are throwing a weekend-long baseball poetry event based at a Boston Red Sox AAA affiliate in Worcester, MA. Events include a poetry contest, ballpark tours, an open mic… not bad for a first-year event. You can see more about the festival at: baseballpoetryfest.org.
It really made me think–Worcester? Really? Charlotte could TOTALLY do something like this. Maybe even expand it to a whole writing-about-baseball thing, that wouldn't just be poetry. Although this most poetic of sports certainly does lend itself in that direction. So far, my husband, Henry, thinks it's a great idea, and Jay Ward, Charlotte's first poet laureate, sees merit, too. So, stay tuned. I might just see what I can cook up.
I also asked Chris if she would be willing to share examples of her own baseball poems, and she agreed to do so. The first poem that she provided is about Frances Crockett, the woman who served as the General Manager of the Charlotte O's. The Charlotte O's was the AA affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles from 1976 to 1987. She was the first woman General Manager in professional baseball.
Here is Chris's poem:
Dear Frances Crockett
By Chris Arvidson
Just about every day
I walk around the ballpark
Where flags with the pictures of past
Ballplayers, owners, and managers wave to me
The legends of Charlotte baseball.
Yours is my favorite – the only woman
You look so serious and businesslike
So smart and professional
Your blond hair stylish and smooth
It's not how I remember you.
I see you decades ago out at the old ballpark
The wooden one that sometimes burned
That sat in the middle of a middle-class neighborhood
Through the open door of the rickety trailer near the front gate
That served as your general manager's office.
You're sitting at a beat-up old desk
A huge fluffy white dog at your feet
And do I recall a cigarette in one waving hand?
The other holding a phone to your ear
As you conducted the team's business.
(This poem appeared in "Nine: A Journal of Baseball History & Culture" Vol. 30 Nos. 1-2, Fall/Spring 2021-22.)
The second poem that Chris shared with me is about Ryan Ripken, a minor-league baseball player. He is the son of baseball legend Cal Ripken, Jr., who played for the Charlotte O's in 1980. Here is Chris's poem:
Hello Ryan Ripken (For Robyn)
By Chris Arvidson
Ryan Ripken came up to bat last night
The designated hitter for the Norfolk Tides
Baltimore's AAA farm team.
Fluttering in the tepid breeze outside the park
A banner sporting his father's young face flew
A nostalgic image from Cal the legend's tenure as a Charlotte Oriole.
Ryan's twenty-eight now
It looks like Grandpa, Uncle Billy, and Ironman Dad
Will post the big-time family's big-league careers without him.
He stands tall at bat in the farm team uniform
And takes up more physical space at the plate
Than the other famous Ripkens.
I wonder if he saw that flag on his way into the ballpark tonight
Snapping in the wind over the players' entrance.
I thank Chris for sharing her baseball poems and for her many contributions to our community. When it comes to doing her part to make Storied Charlotte a more interesting place to live, Chris is always ready to play ball.