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Poet Quartet: Philip Belcher, James Davis May, James Dickson, Sara Moore Wagner | Hybrid | Asheville

July 9, 2023 @ 4:30 pm - 6:00 pm

The July installment of our monthly poetry reading series, coordinated by Mildred Barya, will feature readings by Philip Belcher, James Davis May, James Dickson, and Sara Moore Wagner.

This is a hybrid event with limited in-store seating and the option to attend online. The event is free but registration is required for both in-person and virtual attendance.  

Please click here to register for the VIRTUAL event. The link required to attend will be emailed to registrants prior to the event.

Please click here to register for the IN-PERSON event. Note the important event details on the RSVP form.

All of the poets’ new books will be available to purchase in-store at the event. You may also call us at 828-254-6734 or order online below. If you decide to attend and to purchase books, we ask that you purchase from Malaprop’s. When you do this you make it possible for us to continue hosting author events and you keep more dollars in our community. You may also support our work by purchasing a gift card or making a donation of any amount below. Thank you!

Philip Belcher is the Vice President of Programs for The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina in Asheville and the author of The Flies and Their Lovely Names, which won the South Carolina Poetry Initiative Chapbook Prize. A graduate of Furman University, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (M.Div.), and Duke University School of Law (JD), he also earned an MFA in poetry from Converse College, and is the recipient of both the Porter Fleming Prize in Poetry and Shenandoah’s Carter Prize for the Essay. Belcher’s poems and critical prose have appeared in numerous journals, including The Southeast Review, Shenandoah, Southern Humanities Review, and elsewhere. He also served as an Advisory and Contributing Editor for Shenandoah. For more, visit https://philipbelcher.net

“Nothing dies as slowly as a scene,” Richard Hugo once said, and that line came to me often as I read these excellent, often elegiac, poems. Whether writing of youth or old age, of photographs or place, Philip Belcher creates images that endure: windblown, burning leaves become “little kites of fire”, words “bulging creels of speech”. Yet the artistry is always in service of conveying the depths of the human heart. Gentle Slaughter is a beautiful and memorable collection.” —Ron Rash

James Davis May is the author of the poetry collection Unquiet Things, and a 2021 National Endowment for the Arts Fellow in Creative Writing. Originally from Pittsburgh, he now lives in Macon, Georgia, where he directs the creative writing program at Mercer University. His second poetry collection, Unusually Grand Ideas, was published this year by Louisiana State University Press. For more, visit https://jamesdavismay.com

“James Davis May’s second book begins quietly, chronicling a series of losses, then escalates into a harrowingly exact, artfully rendered portrait of depression: ‘I needed a darkness I’d probably survive / to escape the one I knew I wouldn’t.’ May nails the paralyzing character of his illness and somehow manages, through art and ardor, to negotiate with despair, climbing toward a position that acknowledges darkness but does not deny hope. ‘Forgive me, Love, my difficulties with joy,’ he writes to his young daughter, and to himself and his grateful readers, ‘sometimes the world doesn’t disappoint.’ Unusually Grand Ideas is wrenching, genuine, and superb.” —Mark Doty

James Dickson teaches English and Creative Writing at Germantown High School in Mississippi. An MFA graduate from the Bennington Writing Seminars, he is the recipient of Mississippi Arts Commission fellowships, was named High School Literary Magazine Advisor of the Year by the Mississippi Scholastic Press Association, and was invited to speak at the National Educators Association 50th anniversary celebration. His poems, book reviews, and essays appear in The Common, Ruminate, Hospital Drive, The Louisiana Review, Spillway, Slant, Poetry Quarterly, McSweeney’s, Sylvia, and other publications.  Some Sweet Vandal, his first collection of poems, was published by Kelsay Books in May.  He lives in Jackson with his wife, their son, and a small menagerie of animals.

“If you’re weary of ironic poems that wink at the camera, welcome to the ardent-hearted world of James Dickson. In Some Sweet Vandal, Dickson finds delight and depth in the everyday, and always in fresh language. We meet a high school teacher who reflects on Sylvia Plath during a school shooter training, a lifeguard in a camp for mentally handicapped adults, a father imagining his toddler’s passage into a future where one day he’ll deliver his eulogy. These are poems that, with skill and insight, connect us with our humanity, and they are a tremendous gift.” ―Beth Ann Fennelly, author of Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs

Sara Moore Wagner is the author of the poetry collection Hillbilly Madonna (2022 Driftwood Press prize winner), a 2021 National Poetry Series Finalist, and the recipient of a 2019 Sustainable Arts Foundation award. Swan Wife also won the 2021 Cider Press Review Editors’ Prize. Her poetry has appeared in many journals and anthologies including Sixth Finch, Waxwing, Nimrod, Beloit Poetry Journal, and The Cincinnati Review, among others. She lives in West Chester, Ohio with her husband Jon, and children Cohen, Daisy, and Vivienne. For more, visit www.saramoorewagner.com

“Say Dorothy Allison had a baby with Hans Christian Andersen. That ain’t right—I know it, I know—but just say. And say that girl child grows up to wander the tracks, all the while lining up pennies to be smashed on the rails, all the while picking up shed antlers and discarded needles along the berm. And say here comes a fast train, a Christ-haunted train, a train heavy with the freight of West Virginia, a cargo of such great violence and great tenderness that you know the girl is standing far, far too close to all that’s barreling past. She stands so close the force of it blows back her hair; she stands so close you’re sure she’ll get hit and won’t survive. But she doesn’t step back. No, she stands her ground. This, dear reader, is Sara Wagner, writing this book. These poems ache and ache and ache, but not once do they flinch. Read them and prepare yourself to be wrung out, to be redeemed, to be fit to be tied.” –Nickole Brown, author of To Those Who Were Our First God


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55 Haywood Street
Asheville, North Carolina
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