Sundress Holler Salon presents Ruth Awad, Ian T. Hall, and Jim Warner
The Sundress Academy for the Arts is excited to host a new Holler Salon with a poetry reading and dinner at Firefly Farms. An extension of our award-winning Sundress Reading Series, Holler Salon aims to encourage conversation and collaboration between creative individuals in a variety of disciplines. The event, to be held Saturday, February 9th from 6-10 p.m., will be free and open to the public and will feature poets Ruth Awad, Ian T. Hall, and Jim Warner.
Ruth Awad is a Lebanese-American poet whose debut poetry collection Set to Music a Wildfire (Southern Indiana Review Press 2017) won the 2016 Michael Waters Poetry Prize and the 2018 Ohioana Book Award for Poetry. She is the recipient of a 2016 Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award, and her work has appeared in The New Republic, The Rumpus, The Missouri Review Poem of the Week, Sixth Finch, Crab Orchard Review, CALYX, Diode, Southern Indiana Review, The Adroit Journal, Vinyl Poetry, Epiphany, BOAAT Journal, and in the anthologies Bettering American Poetry Volume 2 (Bettering Books, 2017), The Hundred Years’ War: Modern War Poems (Bloodaxe Books, 2014), New Poetry from the Midwest 2014 (New American Press, 2015), and Poets on Growth (Math Paper Press, 2015). She won the 2012 and 2013 Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Prize and the 2011 Copper Nickel Poetry Contest, and she was a finalist for the 2013 Ruth Lilly Fellowship. She has an MFA in poetry from Southern Illinois University Carbondale, she copy edits for Button Poetry, and she lives in Columbus, Ohio, with her Pomeranians.
Ian T. Hall was born and reared in Raven, Kentucky. He is currently an MFA candidate in poetry at the University of Tennessee, where he serves as an assistant poetry editor for Grist: A Journal of the Literary Arts. He has published poetry and fiction in Kentucky Monthly Magazine, The Louisville Review, Broad River Review, Gravel, Bluestem, and Modern Mountain Magazine, among others.
Jim Warner’s poetry has appeared in various journals including The North American Review, RHINO Poetry, New South, and is the author of two collections (PaperKite Press). His third collection actual miles was released in 2018 by Sundress Publications. Jim is the host of the literary podcast Citizen Lit and is a faculty member of Arcadia University’s MFA program.
While dinner is provided, attendees are invited to BYOB.
The Sundress Academy for the Arts (SAFTA) is an artists’ residency that hosts workshops, retreats, and residencies for writers, actors, filmmakers, and visual artists. All are guided by experienced, professional instructors from a variety of creative disciplines who are dedicated to cultivating the arts in East Tennessee.
Part travelogue, part power pop catharsis, Actual Miles is Jim Warner’s third collection of poetry and his first book in nearly a decade. Criss-crossing Rust Belt mining towns and Filipino rice paddies, Actual Miles finds Warner disassembling home and extracting language from record grooves and Mason jars to reclaim his identity as a bastard son of the highway.
“With Actual Miles, Jim Warner is all texture, flavor, and heart, a shock of senses and cultures, and always searching for family and identity, and the best ways to make them sing.”
–Ben Tanzer, author of Be Cool, Sex and Death, and host This Podcast Will Change Your Life.
“Jim Warner’s newest poetry collection, Actual Miles, embodies Galway Kinnell’s famous line about time: ‘…Everything he loved was made of it.’ A sense of impermanence—and a respect toward that impermanence—centers these lyrical poems on various topics, including bum hearts, multiracial identity gaps, medical interventions, dislocation, and familial deaths. Other poems make permanent a flash of love or beauty, often in the form of haiku and haibun. Although Warner is often discussing the slow fade of our days, he does so with searing focus, pushing toward the flames rather than pulling away once too hot. Through a beautiful mix of form, this collection refuses to let go with its close-up and hold-up descriptions that embraced existence where mornings are brick-red, hearts are trapped in durian rinds, and elegies come second-hand.”
–Charlotte Pence, author of Many Small Fires
Jim Warner’s poetry has appeared in various journals including The North American Review,RHINO, New South, and is the author of two collections (PaperKite Press). His third collection Actual Miles will be released in 2018 by Sundress Publications. Jim is the host of the literary podcast Citizen Lit and is a faculty member of Arcadia University’s MFA program.
Cassie Grillon: The poems in Actual Miles are beautifully lyrical, and the way they are arranged on the page varies interestingly from short stanzas to blocks of text similar to prose. In your writing process, do you focus more on lyricism or the visual appearance of the words?
Jim Warner: For me, the visual aspect of the poem is the very last part of the process, simply because it’s the most difficult for me. When I was in grad school, it came very apparent that my poems didn’t utilize the field of action when it came to line breaks and lineation. My poems were like 2×4’s: dense and solid. In a lot of ways, the look of the poem ran in direct competition with the rhythm of the language. As a result, I spent the better part of the last decade really focusing on the look of the poem. As far as the lyricism of the poem, as an auditory learner, my writing always starts with the play of sound. I am a son of sound, due in large part to being in love with the radio. Growing up, I wanted to be Paul Westerberg, Chuck D, or Tom Waits, I’ve settled on being the best misterjim.
CG: Familial relationships play a large role in the book, and food is often connected to family and memory. What kind of inspiration do you find in your family (and food)?
JW: If you ever had my mom’s fried rice and lumpia, I would challenge you to find better poetry anywhere. It’s in her fingers, and always has been. Spoiler alert, I’m very close to my family, and my relationship with them has informed the way I approach the literary community. My dad worked a seven day swing shift for Pennsylvania Power and Light so my mom could stay home with me. My mom volunteered at my school library from the time I was in first grade all the way through middle school. They taught me to not only seek community, but to be an active, contributing member of it.
CG: How did setting influence the way the book was written?
JW: I’m unsettled, always. For the better part of the last five years or so I’ve been on the move. In the last five years I’ve gone from Scranton, PA to Central Illinois to Knoxville, TN and back to Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, for now). In the next six months, my wife and I will be pulling up stakes again to…? I like being in motion, love the road. Granted, having a giant record and vinyl collection to wrangle each move is intense, but it’s fuel for the fire, right? Travel keeps you honest, forces you to pare down, be neat and compact. I probably do as much writing while behind the wheel as I do behind a desk.
CG: What is a good book you recently read? What did you like about it?
JW: Over the holiday break, I finished Hanif Abdurraqib’s amazing essay collection They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us. What I love about Hanif’s work is how his voice radiates regardless of personal essay, criticism, or poetry. When I saw him read at last year at the Rock n Roll reading at AWP, I was immediately floored by the marriage of pop culture, underground scene, and identity going on in an essay.
CG: Do you have any upcoming projects you are working on?
JW: Right now, I am working on a collaborative writing project with Beth Gilstrap. We are writing haibun-inspired pieces based on our mutual experiences in punk and hardcore. Over hanging out at AWPs, we discovered that we both spent time in our area’s punk communities. At the time, I had been writing haibun and haiku and was looking for a way to experiment with my writing using them as a base. Since last March, we’ve written nearly forty pieces and have had a real positive response both in publication and reader feedback.
CG: Which part of the writing process do you find the most enjoyable?
JW: The editing after making it public. Usually I pound away on a draft and then share the work either at a workshop, an open mic, or (most often these days) with my wife Aubrie Cox. Getting that immediate response as well as the act of sharing immediately takes the piece out of my head, and on some level, closes the circuit for the work. This isn’t to say that my revisions are reactionary or that I just make changes to satisfy person x,y, or z, but having eyes/ears (both familiar and not) gives me an experience I can’t replicate alone in front of a computer. It fills in blanks for revisions, places the work may be falling apart, and reinforces for me that in order for a piece to be successful that at some point, I have to no longer claim sole ownership over it. One of the principles of haiku I really dig is the concept that a haiku is not finished until it’s shared with somebody. The revision after making work public then has some additional context. In a lot of ways, the best poems in this book are a direct product of making the pieces public, particularly with Amy Sayre Baptista and John McCarthy (aka Guaranteed Agony aka the best writing workshop I’ve ever been involved with). Every poem that went through the Guaranteed Agony grinder ended up getting published. That’s just crazy.
CG: What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
JW: Swearing in church.
CG: Are there any authors whose work you disliked at first but have now come to appreciate? What changed?
JW: I wouldn’t say disliked but I never really understood haiku until I met Aubrie. I was very much in the mode that 95% of the world is when it comes to haiku: 5-7-fucking 5. We fill in the box, syllabic mad-libs style, and boom: haiku. That syllable count is a carryover from Western translations: Japanese poets do not count syllables. It’s all about breath and the juxtaposition of two images. The simplicity is its strength, and its complexity. For comparison, think of the early Beatles catalog or even punk for that matter: simple three chord, three-minute wonders whose style belies the lean muscle working under the surface. Going back and reading classic haiku like Basho and especially Shiki with this in mind (as well as writers like Alan Pizzarelli, Roberta Berry and Nick Virgilio) has given me a larger appreciation of their work as well as informing how I teach writing.
CG: What advice would you give to new writers?
JW: Make time daily. Writing is a muscle that needs to be worked as much as any other you’re training. Discipline and routine may need to be built into your schedule, even if, and probably especially if you’re not “the schedule type.” Learning about how you write is as important as anything you will write. Learning what time of day, what the writing space needs to be, what pen/notebook/computer/quill/vial of blood will be your best medium–all these things need to be understood in order to maximize both your time and your output. That old chestnut/story of person X telling a writer “I’ve always wanted to write X but…” is a usually product of 1) totally not understanding how much writing means to you and what you’ve done/sacrificed/ruined to commit to being in the life and 2) totally not understanding their own needs/styles/motivations/approaches to best maximize their time.
Jim Warner’s poetry has appeared in various journals including The North American Review, RHINO, Hobart, No Tokens, New South, and is the author of two collections from PaperKite Press. He is the Assistant Editor of Frogpond and teaches in the MFA program at Arcadia University. Jim serves as host of the literary podcast Citizen Lit.
Cassie Grillon grew up in the small town of Henderson, KY. She received her BFA in creative writing from Murray State University in Murray, KY and is now focusing on earning her MFA in creative writing with an emphasis on fiction from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, LA. Her short story “Dry Grass” was recently awarded the David Madden Award for Short Fiction (2017), which was judged by ZZ Packer.