Last year City Paper interviewed Marcus Amaker, Charleston’s first poet laureate, on the eve of the city’s first month-long poetry festival. At the time Amaker was reminiscing on Charleston’s poetry days of yore, name dropping some of the bigger poets in the city.
Jonathan Brown, who now lives and teaches in New Orleans was one of those poets — in fact, Amaker described him as “the” city’s poet. And if you didn’t live in Charleston back in the day, then next weekend you’ll get your chance to hear from Brown — and workshop poetry with him — at two events hosted by the Poetry Society of South Carolina (PSSC) at the Charleston Library Society.
Brown returns to Charleston to give a reading and seminar for PSSC’s March program, on March 9 at 7 p.m. and March 10 at 10 a.m. Brown will be reading selections of his work on Friday night. PSSC member and local poet Ann Herlong-Bodman will open with pieces from her recent collection, Loose in Far-away Places. After the reading, guests can chat with the poets at a free reception.
On Saturday Brown presents “The Poem’s Speaker,” a seminar on poetic voice and perspective. “Is the speaker of your poem you? A little or a lot? Always or never?
Can you ever really step outside of your own voice and inhabit someone else’s perspective? And if so, what would be the purpose of doing so?,” he asks, “In this workshop we’ll discuss these questions and more. How (and maybe more importantly why) would a writer leave his or her own voice behind in favor of someone else’s?”
Saturday’s seminar is free to students, $10 for PSSC members, and $15 for non-members.
After graduating from CofC, Brown received an MA in Writing and Consciousness from the New College of California and an MFA from the University of New Orleans. His work has earned him several awards, including the title of 2006 Bay Area Slam Champion, and has been published in the Worcester Review, The Nashville Review, Wordplaysound, and Indiefeed: Performance Poetry.
If you want to see another side of Brown, be sure to check out Saturday night’s spoken word/live music show, Jonathan Brown’s Aggressively vulnerable tour, at the Purple Buffalo at 8 p.m.