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    They are born on the streets.  Misunderstood and ridiculed, they are the quiet kids with a universe of imagination, ever-expanding with each neurotic conversation. They are the unapproachable, exiled to languish among the lower class, ever-dreaming in the evening and rising in the morning. Some are locked away, nameless, in the attics of 1930s Germany, 1990s Serbia or present-day Sudan. They are born on airplanes departing from The Land(s) Evolution Forgot; they are riding on magic carpets bound for the long-since dilapidated picket fences and matching whitewall tires of the American Dream. Poets are the rose in the cement, enigmatic mirrors of the world around them; they are a near unrecognizable present day balance between terminally cynical and fearlessly optimistic.

    Governments, strung dangling from the sausage-link fingers of those who never had to seek, manipulate and medicate the micro-chipped masses, (seemingly via Wii Remote). These masses are too intoxicated by propaganda and playthings to realize they’re circling the drain. Any incarnation of society, from communist to anarchist, appears harmonious in theory, but even the most accommodating of these government and societal structures is toppled instantly by the cyclone of fault in humanity’s blueprint. But a poet seeks justice. Part raconteur, part prophet, a true poet is a neighbor to every man, and thus, every man a poet’s neighbor. Neither patronizing, nor preaching, or speaking to his equal as though from some self-appointed perch, the words of poets reach us instead through the language. Their art reveals to society and individuals alike some catalyst or shackle we’ve ignored: like a python we never sensed coiling ‘round our spirits before.

     The Portland Poetry Series, from the Tim Faulkner Gallery at 1512 Portland Avenue, is a call-to-arms for those fluent in poetry’s native tongues, and a vehicle by which their stories plot the course of Louisville’s continued growth. Upon the Bardstown Road bedrock of diversity, tolerance and progress, Highlands Culture has become Louisville Culture. This is evident in areas like Clifton, Germantown and NuLu. The now in-bloom Portland area, home to The Tim Faulkner Gallery and Monday night’s fifth installment of the Portland Poetry series, stands among Louisville’s most recent areas of rebirth.  As the series continues to grow in kind, organizers Eli Keel and Trevor DeCuir of McQuixote Books & Coffee found undeniable the influence of creation and destruction upon the medium and its West-end home. A mix of local and regional poets spoke to the universal reach of such duality, before Louisville’s Rachel Short provided an abstract soundscape of field recordings, a bustling work-life ambiance and a stunning piano loop accompanied by her own spoken word reflections of the contemplative places from which inspiration grows, from inception to decay.

    Years ago, in the springtime air of 2006, another warm-lit, smallish stage hosted a densely packed crowd gathered in support of endangered landmark, The Rudyard Kipling, to hear an anecdote of a time when its very stage felt larger and its lights shone brighter. Curls, like wild vines draped either side of the man’s face as he explained passionately the importance of a home for voices of the disenfranchised and disgruntled, the beautiful and the weird, the quiet and overlooked was vital to the soul of the city. And not unlike a good poem, it wasn’t difficult for those listening intently to imagine stepping onto a stage before a crowd of neighbors, no matter how small, to share with him the sensation of a thousand butterflies spreading at once their tightly-cloaked wings from a thousand chrysalises on their maiden flight ‘round his belly, as he fought to remember all of the words he held so dear.

    Then again, Jim James ought to know. My Morning Jacket cut their teeth at The Rud.  Eli Keel and Trevor DeCuir recognize this essential outlet as well, and see the next great Louisvillian ambassadors in the areas of the city’s character. Our environment, and the creation it inspires, impact much of who we are and what we might become as artists but more importantly, human beings. The Faulkner Gallery is indeed a garden of concrete and canvas, where, at any time, one can witness the creation of something beautiful. 

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    About Johnny Gutterman

    Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground. A Drop of Rain. The Doe Hoof and the Rabbit Paw. Just like you....... Louisville Born. Kentucky Proud writer/photographer. 1/2 of First Light Image Photography. www.firstlightimage.net

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