Kansas City: Song Series #9

“How do you combine 26 different letters to change a person’s breathing?”
–Bret Anthony Johnston

This was my fave quote from the Luther College Writers Festival in Iowa last weekend, where I got to hear hearty & inspiring talks by the writer above, plus Erik Larson, Charles Baxter, and Jane Hamilton, and panels moderated by Keith Lesmeister (whose book is coming out this year! Look for it!).

The bonus to any writer’s conference is making some music with my soul-brother-the-poet Eli Burrell, who happened to be one of the presenters at Luther. We’re cooking up some new songs to play, but lately I like this one that we recorded at some AWP or another.

“Kansas City”

(vocals & guitar, Eli Burrell; vocals & viola, Jen Hinst-White; lyrics, Bob Dylan; music, Marcus Mumford)

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Review Series: The Penny Poet of Portsmouth

Each month I review a new book for ImageUpdate. Here’s the latest.

The Penny Poet of Portsmouth: A Memoir of Place, Solitude, and Friendship by Katherine Towler

“Minor Poets Have More Fun,” read the calling cards of Robert Dunn, the titular character in Katherine Towler’s memoir The Penny Poet of Portsmouth. Towler, who knew this very private writer as much as anyone could, writes: “Robert did not settle for being a minor poet, he aspired to be a minor poet.” Indeed, Dunn earned his nickname for the pocket-sized books of his poetry that he sold for one cent—one cent and no more.

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