The Austin Salon Poetic Retrospective

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 The Austin Salon Poetic meets on the 1st and 3rd Monday of the month
 at Metal and Lace Club, 720 Red River Street, Austin, TX 78701; 7:30 PM CST 

Already about a year has swung by since first dreaming up the idea of The Austin Salon Poetic. Another venue, another voice in the Austin poetry scene, this past year had been exciting and insightful. Many poets and writers from all around Austin, Texas have participated in the featured reading and open mic since its first salon on August 20, 2012. The idea of having a poet feature has grown since that first salon that featured Headhunter Thom (Thom Woodruff) and was followed by an open mic equally powerful as the bard of Austin, TX’ presentation. Where we began doing single poet features, now the Austin Salon Poetic can feature as many as two or three poets and include a lively open mic. The pleasure has been in meeting and engaging the body of poets found here in Austin, and the chance to experience their craft and their talent. It has been a pleasure to create a space where people may express themselves as they see fit, for in this day and age, there aren’t many places where you can just present yourself regardless of the audience. Of course, for the love of the craft, and the joy of mechanism, open mics and features are also great places to practice while preparing for grander things. Indeed, all walks of life in poet boots have crossed the stage in the past year, and hopefully, more will continue to come.

Barbara Carr at ASP 4-1-13
Barbara Youngblood Carr features at The Austin Salon Poetic, April 1, 2013.

Poets who have featured at our salons have now included Austin poets and regional poets, such as: Thom Woodruff, Bill Shute, Juan Manuel Perez, Devorah Winegarten, Joe Hoppe, Brooke Axtell, Ricardo Acevedo, Dillon McKinsey, John Crow and many others. The spectrum of open mic readers has been just as wealthy in the poetry department. In fact, the Austin Salon Poetic prides itself on its reach of inclusiveness regarding poetry styles and types by disregarding such notions. At the Austin Salon Poetic people come to share their voice in a respectful though well liquored environment.

Still, there are great reasons more to come check out the place. It was disclosed a poet used to live on the second floor above the main bar room a few decades ago. Ask around and one may find much information on the cultural norms Austin rolled through in its long history. Apparently the Red River District where now stands the mighty Stubb’s Barbeque and the fallen Emo’s, held many early indie-type endeavors, including bookstores and arte. Now we find a quaint, the rough bar called Metal and Lace. Yes, if you recall, the Austin Salon Poetic first opened in what was then called Headhunters Club. To an extent, the joint is still Headhunters Club. That is definitely how people still refer to it. When the A.S.P. was first conceived, the idea was to have a Monday night poetry open mic in what is called the Cannibal Stage of Headhunters club, a two-story patio that had what most poetry venues require, seating. Booths and tables and bar chairs made the space, intimate as it was, accommodating. Alas, for a lack of anything else to do with the main stage, the Austin Salon Poetic was given that space to perform. The Headhunters of the time was ill-equipped for reading as there was inadequate lighting. There were no chairs. There was a “friendly” pungent odor that greeted you as you entered and acquainted itself with you throughout the night. The horror of creating a space for poets in a space so disenchanting. Indeed, the Headhunters of yore was a rough and gritty one, as it was a heavy metal, punk and thrash type bar littered with Hawaiian and Tribal type decorations to include a huge and dusty bamboo hut roof on the inside of the venue. The poets are great for having attended and participated wholeheartedly those first few open mics. Then something of a synchronicity occurred one fall evening when I was informed Headhunters was to undergo a remodel. How interesting, I thought. The cable-network program called Bar Rescue wanted to remodel and film an episode for their reality based show and use Headhunters for the job. They cleaned up the place, and turned the venue from a Hawaiian themed Tiki headbangers’ hall, to a cleaned, well-lit, stylized lounge type bar that followed a “steampunk” theme. This was Metal and Lace.

Ajari Eniyi participating in a special post-SXSW outdoor read at Metal and Lace Club.
Ajari Eniyi participating in a special post-SXSW outdoor read at Metal and Lace Club.

Needless to say, as the show spent money money on a new state-of-the-art sound and lighting system, the bathrooms remained the same, as well as the two story patio in the back where the name “Headhunters” is still proudly dawned. Now with light and chairs and a great crew we are having successful readings with a great and diverse audience. It does come in tides, it seems, both low and high, but Metal and Lace / Headhunters still opens its doors to various genres, and the poetry open mics are usually followed by live metal bands or DJs spinning music and dropping beats.

As the Austin Salon Poetic reaches its one year anniversary in August, there is still much to look forward. The A.S.P. will be celebrating with a special poetry and music presentation with featured poets and a late night open mic! If you are interested in participating in our open mic, or featuring at the Austin Salon Poetic, please feel free to get in touch. All salons are held on the 1st and 3rd Monday of the month, and sometimes the 5th. The Austin Salon Poetic meets at Metal and Lace Club located at 720 Red River, Austin, TX 78701. More information can be found at the Austin Salon Poetic Website: http://austinsalonpoetic.blogspot.com/ and the Austin Salon Poetic Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/austinsalonpoetic/. Videos of poetry features and participants at the Austin Salon Poetic can be seen at our Youtube page from VGP Media, simply click the link at the bottom of the homepage! There’s really no telling what is next to come for the Austin Salon Poetic. For the time being we are just happy to be a part of the Austin poetry dialogue, and another venue for the expression of the written word and spoken arts. Poets, if you’ve nothing else better to do on a Monday evening, I look forward to hearing your work at the Austin Salon Poetic!

Virgogray Press at the 21st Annual Austin International Poetry Festival

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Thom Woodruff, poet emeritus and one of the founders of the Austin International Poetry Festival.

I’ve been attending the Austin International Poetry Festival semi-consistently for the past decade. The festival is truly a staple, a cornerstone of the Austin poetry scene. The Austin International Poetry Festival began twenty-one years ago. In fact, this year’s theme was “Lucky 21” because, as board members remarked, this year “we were lucky” to have a festival. Still, the festival began humbly over two decades ago, has gone through changes in board members and directors, and has withstood the test of time. This year, the festival ran from April 11-14. and hosted over two hundred registered poets and dozens of lit-interested Austinites in several central locations around Austin, TX. Several poets from local to international status featured, giving readings, hosting workshops, hosting open mics, giving lectures and speaking on panels. There was something of interest for everyone interested in literature and the many facets literature can break into. The Austin International Poetry Festival, a celebration of National Poetry Month, brought maximum exposure to the citizens of Austin, invading university and college campuses, bookstores, coffee shops, music venues, libraries and theaters.

For my part, I’ve participated in the festival, volunteered for the festival, served briefly as a member of the board in 2010.This year, I was asked to host a workshop at the Austin Community College Rio Grande Campus as part of the festival’s itinerary. The workshop was about d.i.y. and self publishing as that is where Virgogray Press’ roots are. The workshop actually focused on the publication history of Virgogray Press as a sort of spine for the topic. Virgogray Press first began as a print-at-home engagement, all chapbooks from 2003-2010 were hand assembled and self-distributed. As one may or may not be able to imagine, the process, from receiving the submission, to the selection process, to the review and editorial process, to the design and formatting process and on  and on through the printing and binding was very time-consuming; a true labor of love. In 2010-2011, Virgogray began using print on demand technology for the printing and binding of its publications. Since that time, I’ve ceased the print-at-home, traditional chapbook, in favor of the “professional,” perfect bound publication.

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Virgogray Press at 2013 Austin International Poetry Festival as part of a work shop on d.i.y. publishing at Austin Community College Rio Grande campus.

Because I’ve worked both avenues of D.I.Y. publishing, both self-publishing and press publishing where other poets, writers and artists are involved, I was able to present relevant information and insights into both facets. Sparing the history of chapbook publishing, I presented those in attendance with a free “classic” Virgogray chapbook, most of which are now out-of-print, to show how self-publishing, d.i.y. publishing, started as single or double sided sheets (broadsides), or books of folded paper stapled or stitched together. We spoke about what it takes to self-publish, including all the above mentioned aspects of revision/design/format, etc., but also included discussion on pricing, distribution, bar-coding, registering with the Library of Congress, marketing, promotions and royalties. I spilled the guts on Virgogray Press, sharing our business models and sharing ideas on publishing. Most participants were interested in self-publishing, but thought the idea of housing their work under their own press moniker worth venturing into. Mostly, the writers were interested in the process of publishing and the easiest ways of execution. Our discussion also included internet publishing and e-book publication, social networking and website basics. The Virgogray Press self-publishing workshop was a great experience and a nice way to share the press’ brief history. The Austin International Poetry Festival is now preparing for its 22nd year, for more information visit: http://www.aipf.org/

Closing 2012 – Intentions for 2013

 

Good evening. I hope everyone is well at the time of this writing. It has been a crazy year, 2012, that showed very fruitful for poetry and Virgogray Press. Having released several collections, and gratefully with the humble returns of poets like Suzi Olmsted, Justin Blackburn and Chris D’Errico, a core has begun to form. The remainder of 2012 and moving into 2013, Virgogray has plans for the release of only a few more titles of poetry from poets such as Michael Fitzgerald-Clarke and Ayne Francis de la Cruz. The newest collections, A. Molotkov and John S. Williams’ “The End of Mythology” and Mary B. Harrison’s “Beneath our Feet” are virtually upon us.

 

Nothing. No One. Nowhere. No. 5 is still waiting in the wings. Do not fear. We will move forward with the magazine as soon as we are able to. Do not forget, issue number 6 shall be edited by Sonnet Mondal. To have your work considered for publication please be sure to e-mail Sonnet Mondal (sonnetmondal@gmail.com). We will be accepting poetry, short fiction, non-fiction. Carcinogenic Poetry is still publishing and shall anthologize for the third time very soon. The Occupy Poetry Project shall publish through the end of the year and will be laid to rest in 2013. We’ll probably anthologize the series to send it off. It is with great thanks to the writers and readers of the web series that I reflect on it as it has been a fun and interesting ride in publication. That could be said the same for Virgogray in its entirety.

 

Virgogray is producing the Austin Salon Poetic, a free community-based poetry open mic in downtown Austin, Texas at a bar called Headhunters Club, that recently underwent a remodel by Spike TV reality show, “BarRescue.” The Austin Salon Poetic features local and regional poets to raise awareness of local poetry and also features a poetry open mic. Poets we’ve featured so far include, Thom Woodruff, Juan Manuel Perez, Bill Shute, Devorah Winegarten and others.

 

There is certainly more to look forward to, including re-issues of previously out of print collections, such as Marc Olmsted’s “Fresh Lotus Rehab” and A. J. Kaufmann’s “Broke Nuptial Minds.” That is all that can be said. To all others involved, I thank you for your patience and understanding in all matters of the press. Virgogray could not promote and share such vital work without the loyalty and integrity of the poets, artists and readers who support us.