It may be something in the air, or in the water, because Floyd attracts creative people from all over the country.
I am not just talking about everyday writers or poets or artists. The people who show up in Floyd are multi-talented people who run companies by day and play guitar at night, potters who write poetry, and business women like Sally Walker (at right) who is an incredible jazz vocalist.
The breadth and depth of the talent pool in Floyd is hard to estimate, because just about the time you have someone pegged as skilled artist, it turns out that he is also a doctor with an extensive practice or a construction worker or a chemical engineer. Even the younger people are multi-talented.
This is the kind of crowd that performed at the spoken word event earlier tonight at the Cafe Del Sol in downtown Floyd, VA. The Forensic team from Floyd High School led off the evening with some startling comedic and dramatic performances. They are entered in statewide competitions and I think they might do very well.
Doug Thompson brought the house down with a hilarious rendition of the "Letter that cannot be mentioned from the agency that must not be named!"
Fred First read passages from his upcoming book, "Slow Road Home." I am reading a review copy of his book and think it will do quite well. He has managed to capture the wonder of discovering a peaceful country life in all its detail. Reading his book is like remembering what it was like to be an inquisitive child discovering nature for the first time.
I discussed how I came to write Danger Quicksand - Have A Nice Day and read a few passages from the book.
My "Advice for Whistleblowers" got a good response, but my final reading, "When All Else Fails - Help Someone Else" seemed to resonate with more of the audience.
This was my first appearance in the limelight at Cafe Del Sol, but the warm welcome I received encourages me to come up with something new for next month.
The final selection of the night was a poem, "Cityboy Countrygirl" by potter and poet Jayn Avery. She had the audience in her hand from the very first line. I was so enthralled by the poem that I forgot to take her picture. When she agreed to let me publish her poem on my weblog, I made her recreate the reading so you could get a look at her.
She has captured the painfully sweet tension between a sharp-edged city boy and a down-home country girl in lyric measure. Her words evoked long-forgotten memories of city life and the many years of yearning for a simpler and more satisfying life in the country.
Read her poem after the break.
by Jayn Avery
Yeah, we're in love.
Exposed hearts melting in our personal global warming,
causing floods of correspondence, climate changes in poetry,
and occasional research trips into each other's changing world.
You live on urban coastal flatland
riding your bicycle like you live your life
high gear in the passing lane careening
through the metal maze of warship construction zone
concrete harbor, city sharp in politics,
concentrated mix of human waste and glory.
you skim the curbs, jump the grates,
know which way the traffic flows,
take a break, do some art, call the kids, write some lines,
fall deep into the night, then up again and racing
with the sea soaked sun.
This mountain mama pollyanna flower child
walks a slow mile in granny gear,
takes time with the birds and the frogs,
gets a buzz of bees and trees,while days lost in dog walk and cat talk,
lives her seasons out of hand--strong hands
holding close moist clay, flower stem, the memory of touch.
In this retrogressive regenerative biodegradable living
things take their own time to grow,
like blueberries, children and feelings,
feelings leading to thoughts leading to doings that lead to love,
love grows with time and rain, wind, sun and stars...lots of stars.
So, we'll shift gears up and down, run this engine on bio-fuel,
and when the differences tangle like plastic in a landfill,
we'll take the uncompromising, non-degradable garbage of our past,
tie, fold, crimp, and cut, stretch, paint, and reinvent it
into one urban renewable, rurally sustainable
work of fantastical art!