Organic Italian Vodka Purus Dinner at Strada in Asheville, NC

I was turned on to Purus by a childhood friend, Clay Garrett, from Bedford, Virginia, who passes through Asheville, North Carolina, from time to time as a distributor.  I have written a bit on Purus in the past and love it cold, on ice, with its taste of stone.  Made locally by an Italian family, Purus is arguably the most sippable vodka I’ve ever tasted.  I’ve always been a beer, gin and tequila man myself, but when I discovered Purus, well, there’s always a bottle in my fridge (especially when Clay comes to town).  It also has a sexy price point at around $20.00 and the mini bottles are excellent samplers if you want to turn on your friends to this organic Italian quaff.  You’ll start to see the bottles in the house wells all over the place as knowledge of Purus grows.  In truth they are beautiful bottles and we’ve heard that some folks use them for flowers–and the minis for salt and pepper shakers.  When Clay and I stopped in at Isa’s Bistro in downtown Asheville, there was a bottle of Purus right in the ice under the bar and the bartender raved about the product.  I had the Moscow Mule, sometimes referred to as a Milano Mule (given Purus’ Italian origins).  At the liquor dinner at Strada on Broadway, upstairs on a patio with silver chairs and a view of Asheville, I enjoyed another Moscow Mule paired with sliced guanciale pork terrine with Italian smoked pork jowl, black truffles and pistachios.  The night grew in fun as I played a little trumpet at Moonshine Bar on Lexington, got to hang with my old friend Clay and enjoyed Purus at various spots throughout the city.  Love this vodka!  It has a taste that mixes well, for sure, but alone, on ice, there’s nothing like it.

Top of Strada for Purus dinner
Top of Strada for Purus dinner

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Stephen J. Hawking Is Eating Breakfast–Poem

Quick back story.  Was in a downtown Seattle hotel for breakfast and walked downstairs to see this moment:

Stephen Hawking Is Eating Breakfast

Tall hotel in Seattle,

a woman spoons diced

tomatoes at his mouth,

he is smiling

small red cubes drop

on his bib, she giggles,

the two can’t

stop laughing,

but no food can go

past his bottom lip,

it all falls, all of it,

into his lap,

a floss of slobber

hangs from

the four teeth

of his underbite

the more

the food falls,

the more

they laugh,

until she has

to put down

the spoon to focus

on this laughter,

he is a baby

being fed,

but he laughs free

like a baby too,

this unusual pieta,

in a Seattle hotel,

she turns, caught

by a parent,

covers her mouth

and says oops as

only his eyes

behind glasses

move to the side

to meet the

smile in mine

Keep Campaigning in Poetry

Mario Cuomo once said in a New Republic article, “You campaign in poetry.  You govern in prose.”  I recently was hanging out with the brother of a dear friend who, it turns out, has been writing a poetry.  We spent a bit of time at some local breweries in Charlotte and then worked on editing some of his work.

This summer and this fall will be all about the bliss of prosody (fancy word for poetry) and a culmination of years of writing and teaching.  I have been working on my fourth master’s, M.Litt. in Poetry, and will be in Santa Fe, New Mexico, taking a poetry workshop with Ruth Forman and an Indigenous American literature course with Simon Ortiz at Middlebury College’s Bread Loaf School of English.

Now, what makes this summer particularly special is that I will segue into teaching graduate poetry in the fall in Asheville at Lenoir-Rhyne’s MA in Writing program, Evolution of Poetry as a Form.

I don’t know what happened, but my MFA was in fiction, and, yet, the last few years, I think in poetry, ever since I taught the great student, Patrick Martin, in Poetic Techniques at SUNY-Purchase.  You might say that I’ve found my poetic feet.  Having a beer with Seamus Heaney in the Bread Loaf barn; eating dinner with Derek Walcott at SUNY-Purchase; seeing and meeting Czeslaw Milosz in Houston (all Nobel Prize winners).  Studying with Pulitzer winner Richard Howard at University of Houston.  Receiving a random book of poetry to review from a friend, Rob Patry, on Facebook.  All of these things occur outside the writing of poetry, but they become poetic too.

Last summer I won the Bread Loaf School of English Poetry prize, and since then, the poems keep finding me, even in my friend’s brother who, in just one sitting, started to see that you can’t think a poem, that you need to listen to cummings when he says “feeling is first.”

Yes, there is form; you have to have it.  But when you locate the real poetry in your verse, something sublime happens–and yet so simple at the same time.  So on this day, I want argue that as much as I love prose (read my three books of fiction), the moment, the feeling is finding itself in poetry.  I’m going to argue  then that we govern in poetry some day.

New Blog Look

Hi folks.  And welcome to my new site which replaces my quondam antediluvian one that wouldn’t allow me to upload photos.  In latest news, I will be professoring again in the fall at Lenoir-Rhyne University’s Asheville Graduate Center for the M.A. in Writing Program, teaching a graduate Poetry Workshop.

Just finished teaching my Sci Fi/Fantasy/Horror course and Fiction Workshop for the spring.  Then I’m off to Virginia for a couple of weeks and onward to Santa Fe where I will be studying graduate Poetry and Indigenous American Literature for two months at the Bread Loaf School of English at Middlebury College.

In the fall I will also be teaching four freshman composition courses at A-B Tech.  Should be an exciting rest of the year!  As always you can purchase my three books on and The Killer Detective Novelist at Malaprop’s here in Asheville in the Mystery section.  Buncombe County Library also has The Killer Detective Novelist in its system now.

With my new blog on WordPress, I will be adding photos here and there.

Here is the spring issue of Act Two Magazine with my book column, a piece on the Yale Art Gallery renovation, a short article on local craft furniture makers in CT, plus a feature on gardens and farmers’ markets in Black Mountain, NC, as well as my pride and joy:  a feature on reading James Joyce’s Ulysses at Oxford then traveling on a dream trip to Ireland right afterward.

As always, thanks for reading.  Hugs.