The Atlanta poetry scene has a gift, and his name is Collin Kelley. Actually, Collin is a treasured friend to poets and writers all over the globe, from England to France (setting of his soon to be released novel, Conquering Venus, Vanilla Heart Publishing), to many parts of the United States.
I first contacted Collin after reading his work in MiPoesias’ The Oldest Profession. Wowed by his poems included in that issue, I shyly asked him if he would be willing to contribute a poem or two to the first issue of ouroboros, and not only did he do just that, he also spread the word about the magazine to some of the best poets in Atlanta. Jo and I will be forever grateful to Collin.
Since this past summer, I’ve found out about all kinds of poetry readings and events that Collin organizes and promotes in our city. The latest was a fabulous reading by Cherryl Floyd-Miller, who shared poems from her new collection, Exquisite Heats, Salt Publishing, 2008.
Floyd-Miller gave an entertaining, moving reading of a wide variety of poems, including villanelles, prose poems, and a new form called the Bop. After the reading she took questions from the audience, explaining her outlook on poetic form. She said that she studies the works of the poets who have come before her, and has learned the forms, but reserves the right to break the rules to allow her own voice to come through. It was validating to hear her words, because she gave voice to some of my own ideas about learning from the writers who have come before me, and about rule breaking.
Floyd-Miller spoke about the integral role music plays in her life and her work, and how it stems from her father’s gift for gospel singing. She also explained how she developed the art of listening from the Gullah language of the US southeastern coastal area where she grew up as a child. Her poems flow with a melodic, tongue rolling energy that casts a spell over the listener. She makes it seem effortless, and reads in a natural, spontaneous manner – she explained that music is such a basic part of her life that the rhythms have infused themselves into her writing.
Floyd-Miller acknowledged her long-standing friendship with Collin Kelley, stating he had been one of the first to read the manuscript of Exquisite Heats, and how happy she was to launch her new collection in Atlanta, with Kelley as the host.
If you want to find out about the next poetry event in metro Atlanta, make sure you check out Collin’s blog. In the meantime, maybe you’d like to write a bop? Floyd-Miller has used lines from songs as the refrain in her bops, a detail which she shared with us at the reading. I think I’m going to try one myself. Any song suggestions?