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Jul 07

Underground report: Carlinville, Illinois.

Underground report: Carlinville, Illinois. March 2013

I didn’t get lost until the way home. Which is usually the way it happens since I don’t bother with directions at that point. Not a big deal though since it was daylight and I have a general sense of the area already. I was able to clip down a beautiful county road for a bit and get straight back to the highway. The drive served to remind me of why it’s not always best to take the interstate. Save time with this, save time with that… what are we saving time for? More of this and that, I think and it turns out to be Istuff. bluck. There’s a whole bunch of country out there, Americka. I passed a small dam in the middle of the country, just chillin. Old railroad bridges, cemeteries, random scattered farm equipment, caved-in barns. I was coming around one of the many narrow curves and hit it just as the sun peeked through the clouds on a small body of water surrounded by fallen down trees and tall dead weeds. The sunlight bouncing off the water just right turned the whole view a sort of pink tint. Population 200. 1400. no sign at all.

People care. I’m going to guess 12 but am sure there’s a record somewhere if you must know the exact number. Jammed into a small conference room with thankfully comfortable chairs. There was cheesecake and cupcakes and coffee but I had stopped at the local coffee joint (The Refuge Coffee House) before the library. I swear to god, right there on the square in carlinville is the best vanilla caramel lattes ever. The Refuge Coffee House. I was hungry too and didn’t want my stomach grumbling at the library (sssshhhhh!), so I had a blueberry pineapple muffin. Holy whatever… so good. Had to be fresh fruit.

Anyway, I found the library that is in a building with the local police department and municipal offices. Guild business was happening but they stopped a moment to welcome me and point me to a seat around the table. There was Wanda, and I recognized a few other faces from wanda’s poetry reading a while back at aforementioned coffee joint. They were talking about a literature contest for teens, how to get people involved and spread the word.

So if you hadn’t noticed from my description earlier, this place is rural. It’s not unusual to have to drive many miles for the basics … grocery, medicine and whatnot, not to mention you are likely to drive many many miles in order to pursue your interests. I believe there were more out-of-towners in attendance than local to carlinville. One fella mentioned he was from Springfield which is about 50 miles up I-55. Two others mentioned long, full-day drives coming up for literature-related events. That’s dedication. If you have that kind of dedication without caring then I would guess you are likely suffering some sort of mental illness and should seek immediate medical attention.

After the business portion which was both short and interesting, everyone in the group read a little something that they had either written from a prompt or had published. I’m glad I was there early enough for this part because each and every person had something valuable to contribute. I have to admit the hairdresser poem was my favorite. There were some rhymes, lust, god stuff, a fishing story (not really about fishing) and the Easter Bunny isn’t real and might be cooking on the stove. None of this frightened me. It was all good. The thing that had me concerned was the sign sitting in the middle of the table… something about rules and Rule #1 was NO PROFANITY. Hhhmmm. Okay.

When the reading was done, they turned it over to me—amazingly, not nervous. I had grabbed some stuff from around my office to show them… a few cut-up, taped together pages that made the latest citizens zine, a polish journal, some early Rural Messengers stuff… the first print thing I ever sent out into the world- a mail art postcard and Aleathia Drehmer’s broadside from long, long ago. I took one of the covers from Red Reader. I must have given them all away because the cover was all I could find. They ooed and ahhed over the Tainted Coffee Press flipbook, the latest from Uno Kudo, some Full of Crow little books and random cool shit I have received in the mail.

As those were passing around the room, I talked about my travels over the past two years to these literary events in Toledo, Cleveland, Chicago, Milwaukee, Oakland/San Francisco, Ypsilanti, Albuquerque, Denver and back to Toledo. Some of what goes into the planning, crazy shit that happened… and the beauty of it all. The group was attentive and engaged… and even invited me to keep in touch and come to one of their open mics. I had free stuff to hand out of course… citizens #5, the damn poem and love broadside by Brian Fugett and Bud Smith and I even sold some of Tim Murray’s Dinosaur Ditch and Michael Grover’s Some People Go Crazy. They kinda liked the fact that it’s not a dinosaur, timmurray. It’s a woolly mammoth!

It doesn’t matter if we like the same lit, the same subjects or styles. The love of the word and how it can positively effect individuals and communities, that’s the stuff. Truly a pleasurable experience and I’m so glad I went. I am honored that Wanda invited me to speak to the group and so thankful to have met these individuals. They also sprang for lunch which was crazygood. If you are ever in Carlinville, Illinois, find Magnolia’s. It’s on a quiet side street not far off the square.

As those were passing around the room, I talked about my travels over the past two years to these literary events in Toledo, Cleveland, Chicago, Milwaukee, Oakland/San Francisco, Ypsilanti, Albuquerque, Denver and back to Toledo. Some of what goes into the planning, crazy shit that happened… and the beauty of it all. The group was attentive and engaged… and even invited me to keep in touch and come to one of their open mics. I had free stuff to hand out of course… citizens #5, the damn poem and love broadside by Brian Fugett and Bud Smith and I even sold some of Tim Murray’s Dinosaur Ditch and Michael Grover’s Some People Go Crazy. They kinda liked the fact that it’s not a dinosaur, timmurray. It’s a woolly mammoth!

It doesn’t matter if we like the same lit, the same subjects or styles. The love of the word and how it can positively effect individuals and communities, that’s the stuff. Truly a pleasurable experience and I’m so glad I went. I am honored that Wanda invited me to speak to the group and so thankful to have met these individuals. They also sprang for lunch which was crazygood. If you are ever in Carlinville, Illinois, find Magnolia’s. It’s on a quiet side street not far off the square.

–mm

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