I have become the recent victim of a Chris Isaak obsession. It’s ok, I know – help is out there if I’m ready, but the fact is, kids: I’m just not. Not at all. The man wears pink blazers; he has a pompadour that just won’t quit. And he Feels Things. Please note this strategic capitalization.
I have – in a moment of perhaps misguided frivolity – been known to drop casual comments like: “T-Pain is a poet” or “I find the wanton psychological undercurrents of Lady Gaga’s lyrics relevant”. Sometimes we all find ourselves wrestling with the Big Picture at 2am on facebook while pop culture illustrates our lives. It happens.
But this is different.
Chris Isaak is an unreal kind of human being. This man was not born; he simply stepped out of the golden horizon with a guitar strapped to his back and the wisdom of humanity thrumming in his soul, his voice haunting you through those earbuds like smoke from the oldest warrior campfire. A warrior poet. The most ancient of lonely cowboys. A true Feeler of all Things.
It has only been recently that he took my quivering hand in his and wrapped it in the smooth balm of his gray and solitary cry. We are currently Feeling Things together. Right now, even – I’ve got “Wicked Game” lending all kinds of ghostly sorrow up in here, my loves. And this (mostly late night) affair has shown me what I was missing in the throes of more awesomely bad ballads of our modern airwaves: poetry is not written, it is bled.
It’s possible you feel differently. Whatever. Either way, friends, be prepared for that creamy blood of words to flow free this weekend as the InKY Reading Series  kicks off the 2nd Annual Writer’s Block Festival . A hullaballoo of all sorts will celebrate the craft of words and the art of poetry at this year’s festival, and the show starts tomorrow, Friday, October 12th, at The Bard’s Town  as writers Maurice Manning and Crystal Wilkinson open the games.
With his most recent book of poetry, The Common Man, a finalist for the 2011 Pulitzer Prize, writer Maurice Manning clearly knows his game of words. A Guggenheim fellow for 2011-2012, Manning is currently imparting his poetic wisdom teaching in the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College and at Transylvania University. He was most recently honored with the Lee Smith Award from Lincoln Memorial University.
Also lighting up the stage is litterateur and shop-owner, Crystal Wilkinson. The author of the award-winning, Blackberries, Blackberries – the winner of the 2002 Chaffin Award for Appalachian Literature – Wilkinson is also a purveyor of fine books, keeping shop with her partner in Lexington with the store The Wild Fig Books. The recipient of numerous awards, including honors from The Kentucky Foundation for Women and The Kentucky Arts Council, Wilkinson has also had work featured in several anthologies and literary journals. Her most recent book, 2005’s Water Street, was a finalist for both the UK’s Orange Prize for Fiction and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award.
Along with musical guests Mike Karman and A Girl Named Earl, this duo promises to make The Bard’s Town a rich aperitif for this weekend’s glorious celebration of print, poetry and people. Hit up The InKY Reading series tomorrow night and map your way through the festivities of this year’s Writer’s Block Festival on Saturday. A plethora of readings, workshops, demonstrations – and, hey, the Print Fair! – will be lined up to delight your literary mind. I’ll be around, too, my friends, and you can bet your last good buck that somewhere in my little mind I’ll be walking down that mystical highway, arm-in-arm with the last, lusty warrior poet. And he’ll be wearing that pink blazer.
The Bard’s Town is located at 1801 Bardstown Road. The Writer’s Block Festival will take place in the East Market district – “Nulu” – downtown. View the list of scheduled events here .
Image: Courtesy of Louisville Literary Arts www.louisvilleliteraryarts.org