Pure Poetry at TFAC will celebrate Polk County writers

Published 8:30 pm Monday, April 3, 2017

Local writers will take to the stage for Pure Poetry at Tryon Fine Arts Center on Thursday, April 18 at 7 p.m. Pure Poetry is presented by TFAC’s newest initiative, the Stage Door Series.

Seven accomplished poets with Polk County connections will read from their recent works backstage on the Veh Stage. Presenters include Cathy Smith Bowers, Nancy Holmes, David Riddle, Greg Lobas, Lee Stockdale, Lee Mink and Kathy Ackerman.

Cathy Smith Bowers is the author of six books of poetry and is the recipient of the 2014 Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance Award in poetry. From 2010-2012 she served as poet laureate of North Carolina. She teaches in Queens University of Charlotte’s Creative Writing MFA program. On April 23, Cathy will be inducted into the South Carolina Author’s Hall of Fame.

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Nancy Holmes has an MFA in poetry from the Iowa Writers Workshop. Her business career has included book editor in New York City and family therapist in Hartford, Conn. Since moving to Tryon in 1992, Nancy has been involved in the arts, primarily as curator of many exhibitions at the Upstairs Artspace, co-producer of Art of Jazz concert series, and a director of arts and community organization boards such as the Asheville Art Museum. She is the founder of Escape To Create, a special multi-disciplinary artists’ residency in Seaside, Fla.

David Riddle grew up in Spartanburg, moved around for a couple of decades, then came to Polk County in 1986. Though retired now, he’s worked as a carpenter, a naturalist, and a science teacher. “When I write, it’s mostly poetry, memoir, or occasionally short fiction,” says Riddle. “I enjoy seeing my thoughts materialize on the page. Sometimes it feels like work; other times its play. Those are the good days.”

Greg Lobas spent many years as a freelance outdoor writer, and with his retirement from his day job as a firefighter/paramedic, he turned his attention to writing poetry. Since 2016 he has won the Peter Pan Prize and the Marjorie E. Peale Prize from the Poetry Society of South Carolina, and a Carrie McCray Award from the South Carolina Writers’ Association. With his poetry, Greg is always seeking to capture a moment that points to something that goes beyond itself. Greg has been active with local open mic sessions, and spends both more time than he should and less time than he should writing poetry. He is proud of the fact that due to the absence of certain individuals at various times, nobody has read at TFAC more often than he has.

Lee Stockdale started writing in earnest at Sewanee Military Academy where he was managing editor of the school newspaper, The Guidon, wrote the humor column, and founded a new publication, The Harold. He attended Antioch College and graduated with a degree in English from the University of Washington. His writing was paused to pursue a 30-year Army career as he and Gail raised their five children. He holds a juris doctorate, a master’s degree in strategic studies, and a master of fine arts degree in creative writing.

Lee Mink is a local farmer, sustainable food activist and poet. He has been writing poetry in earnest for over two decades. Lee’s current work focuses on his relationship with the Green River and surrounding Game Lands. Lee often says that “writing poetry in this place that we are fortunate enough to call home is a blessing. The river and surrounding mountains possess an abundance of inspiration. All that is required of me, as a poet, is to be a witness.” Lee will be reading selected poems from a series entitled, “Walking the Blue Ridge in These Wandering Shoes.”

Though her roots are in West Virginia coal country, Kathy Ackerman grew up in Northwest Ohio. She has lived in the Carolinas since 1984 and has published three poetry chapbooks:  The Time It Takes, Knock Wood, and Crossbones and Princess Lace. Her first full-length collection of poems, Coal River Road, was published in 2013 by Livingston Press at the University of West Alabama. Her current poetry project explores the complex inner life of Marie Curie. She is also the author of the only book to date about North Carolina proletarian novelist Olive Tilford Dargan, called The Heart of Revolution, published by the University of Tennessee Press. Ackerman is writer-in-residence and dean of Arts and Sciences at Isothermal Community College in Spindale, N.C., home of the incomparable WNCW radio.

The evening will run approximately 90 minutes. Donations will be accepted at the door, with a cash bar available. Audience members will be seated backstage on the Veh Stage for this intimate reading. Seating is limited, so please call 828-859-8322 to ensure your seat. More information is available at tryonarts.org.

– article submitted by Michelle Flming