May 182018
 

What drew you to Waterline’s blues-themed event?

I think “blues” is a feeling and a sound that has permeated my life and my writing for as long as I can remember. I might not have always recognized that, but as I get older, I notice it more and more. This event sounded like something new for me but also a chance to share some of my writings inspired by blues music and poetry.

How does the blues influence your writing style?

I don’t write as much rhyming poetry as I used to, but I do like rhythmic patterns in my poems or a sense of a beat or cadence to the words. “Blues” as a concept carries grief, longing, and invocations, and I think I often write blues-inspired poems without even realizing that’s what I’m doing.

How did the blues, or a particular musician or song, inspire the work you will present at Waterline?

My hometown of Richmond, Indiana, is the cradle of recorded jazz, but some blues musicians also recorded here. One that really fascinated me was Blind Lemon Jefferson. He makes appearances of one sort or another in two of the poems I’ll read at Waterline. His classic “See That My Grave Is Kept Clean” should sound mournful—and it does—but there’s also this sort of appreciation of life and a desire to be honored for a life lived, even if you die destitute and aren’t remembered by anyone but the one who cleans your grave. I think my poems show that contrast between hope and regret—but also a longing to be memorialized in some way, which most of my poems do.

Bio

Christopher Stolle’s writing has appeared most recently in Tipton Poetry Journal, Flying Island, Edify Fiction, Contour, The New Southern Fugitives, The Gambler, Gravel, The Light Ekphrastic, Sheepshead Review, and Plath Poetry Project. He works as an acquisitions and development editor for Penguin Random House, and he lives in Richmond, Indiana.

For more information about the Waterline event: https://www.facebook.com/events/284815468721231/

May 182018
 

What drew you to Waterline’s blues-themed event?

What drew me to Waterline’s Blues Themed event was when outta nowhere I received an email about Waterline Writers and since I’ve been writing poetry since a little girl and how it’s helped me cope with life I saw the email as a sign from God to show my work to the world so I submitted some poems and when I was chosen I felt like I won a million dollars especially to have my poem played in song by blues singers Dave and Scott made me even happier I chose Waterline writers!

Bio

My poems are about me, about the struggles in life I endured, the many trials I had to go through, all the hurt and pain I experienced as a child and how I never gave up on my dreams. My poems are about how I stayed strong and how I will keep pushing until I read my goals in life. My poetry is how I kept my strength and never gave up on hope.

For more information about Waterline’s event: https://www.facebook.com/events/284815468721231/.

May 182018
 

What drew you to Waterline’s blues-themed event?

I’m drawn to the music and history of the blues — maybe because it seeped into me growing up in Memphis. My mom grew up in Arkansas and my dad in Mississippi so I’ve spent some time around the birthplace of the blues. Later I sort of fell into hosting blues radio shows. I really enjoy getting to meet and interview musicians, learning more about their sources of inspiration.

Through my relationship with Waterline Writers, I heard about the call for blues themed poems a few years ago – to celebrate Blues on the Fox and Aurora’s Poetry in Public Places – where these two poems originally appeared.

To me music and poetry can be one and the same. When I hear music that stirs me, it’s most often blues based and urges me to explore and express the images and feelings it conjures up. Since my musicianship is sub-basic, I try by playing with words.

Bio

Paula is addicted to public radio. She writes regularly for the NPR station at Northern Illinois University, and her topics for WNIJ have covered Internet privacy and security, and the arts, especially music.

She started working in radio when she was living in Sydney and hosting a blues show that was syndicated across Australia and New Zealand. When she moved back to Illinois, she joined WNIJ as a host for several years of the Saturday Night Blues.

Her two blues poems were part of the Poetry in Public Places exhibits in Aurora.

For more information about Waterline’s event: https://www.facebook.com/events/284815468721231/

May 182018
 

How does the blues influence your writing style? How did the blues, or a particular musician or song, inspire the work you will present at Waterline?

My first two novels feature a family with three daughters, the father plays blues guitar, and someone goes to Italy. When I started writing my third novel, I told myself that there would not be a family with three daughters, that no one would go to Italy, and that no one would play blues guitar. No one goes to Italy. I got rid of the daughters, though an illegitimate daughter creeps into the story. But I couldn’t get along without the blues, which you can figure out from the title of the book—Blues Lessons

Why is that?

I think that it’s because for me the blues is the mother tongue, the American mother tongue. The language of the blues allows me to articulate something that’s central to my life as a person and as a writer. And it’s a mystery: How do three lousy chords and three of four basic patterns open a door to great riches in a little room? Like all great mysteries, you can’t explain it. You can only tell stories about it. Stories that begin like this:

“I got the key to the highway. I’m going away, Baby; cryin’ won’t make me stay. Come on in my kitchen, ’cause it’s goin’ to be rainin’ outdoors. Now she’s gone gone gone, and I don’t worry, ’cause I’m sittin’ on top of the world. I got me three wimmin and they live on the same old road. You know I’d rise from my grave, for some of your jelly. If I get lucky, and find my train fare home. Standin’ in the station, my suitcase in my hand. I told you you could go, and don’t come back here no more. I’m goin’ back home, wear out ninety-nine pair of shoes. Now it is a needin’ time. Ain’t had no lovin’ since you been gone. I went to the crossroads, fell down on my knees. I went down to the depot, that evening train done gone. I’m a stranger here, just blowed in your town. I’m a big fat mama, got the meat shakin’ on my bones. You made me love you, now your man done come. All my life I been a travelin’ man. If I had a listened to my second mind. When I had money, we lived on Easy Street. Winds on Lake Michigan, Lord, blow chilly and cold. Rise up dead man, and help me drive my row. When my bed get empty make me feel awful mean and blue.”

Bio

Robert Hellenga has published short stories from coast to coast, seven novels, and a collection of short stories. He is the father of three daughters, who have inspiried much of his fiction, and lives in Galesburg, Illinois, with his wife, Virginia, and a dog, Simone.

Read reviews of his book, Blues Lessons, in Acoustic Guitar Magazine and the LA Times.

For more information about the event: https://www.facebook.com/events/284815468721231/

May 172018
 

How did the blues, or a particular musician or song, inspire the work you will present at Waterline?

I would say the blues didn’t necessarily “inspire,” but rather, provoked the work.

I enjoy blues music, and older recordings in particular, but I find that my enjoyment is fraught with my own inadequacy.

Bessie Smith’s 1920s recordings for Columbia surely evoke an emotion, but who am I to pretend I can ever understand where Bessie Smith is coming from? …who was orphaned at the age of 9 …who busked with her brother on the streets of Chattanooga …who was at one time the highest-paid black entertainer of her time, but then was buried in 1937 in an unmarked grave after dying in a segregated hospital …whose grave remained unmarked until 1970.

The blues shines a spotlight on privilege. And while we might feel something listening to it, I don’t believe us capable of really understanding.

Bio

Emily Hollis Tipping is an editor, poet and sometimes-singer living in Warrenville, Ill. She has worked in the publishing industry for the past 20 years, spending the past 12 years as Editorial Director for a business-to-business publication covering recreation, sports and fitness facility management. She has self-published one book of poetry, Cold Moon, September 2016. A second book, titled Field Notes, is in progress.

For more information about Waterline’s event: https://www.facebook.com/events/284815468721231/

May 172018
 

What drew you to Waterline’s blues-themed event?

I was drawn to the Waterline event because, as a singer / songwriter and professional musician since 1963, I have performed my own blues compositions and those of numerous other artists whose styles incorporate the blues

How does the blues influence your writing style?

I write and perform songs which stem from numerous idioms, including the blues and blues oriented rock as well. I am not a “one trick pony” per se, but my audiences respond very enthusiastically to my blues related compositions.

How did the blues, or a particular musician or song, inspire the work you will present at Waterline?

Among my favorite musicians who influence my work, I include Addison’s Al DeCarlo, the guitarist and singer from Bangor Flying Circus who passed away this past year, as well as Leon Russell, the fabulous keyboard and guitar player, who we lost recently as well. My inspiration is to carry on the musical influences they and so many other artists have had on my writing and playing style. Since I have a four page list of those who have influenced me over the years, I will pay homage to their styles as I continue to evolve as a singer / songwriter.

Bio

I have been a professional musician for more than 55 years. During that period I have played the blues, had the blues, taught thousands of students how to play the blues on guitar, bass guitar, piano and organ. The late, great Steve Goodman put it this way: “My baby came to me this morning; she said I’m kind of confused; If me and B.B. King were dying; which one would you choose; I said babe … oh babe … I’ll love you until the twelfth of never; but I ain’t never heard you play no blues.”

I will let my music do my talking for me, just like Steve did.

For more information about the event: https://www.facebook.com/events/284815468721231/

May 162018
 

How did the blues, or a particular musician or song, inspire the work you will present at Waterline?

My contribution was inspired by Blind Willie Johnson, whose recording career spanned only 1927-1929. His songs are very haunting, timeless; he sang them as if they possessed him and needed to be exorcised. And while the hands we were dealt in this world couldn’t be much different, I still feel a thin, common thread when it comes to melodies and vibe, and staying true to yourself in the creative process. He made “blues” music during a time when no one was doing so for money or fame, only because the songs moved him and he wanted to affect his listeners. I think that’s an important lesson, and one which I hold close.

Bio

Dave is a singer/songwriter, music teacher and producer from St. Charles, releasing 4 CDs and 3 more with his Swillbilly band Dick Smith. He’s performed around the Midwest and points beyond for years, with his songs receiving airplay on public and college radio worldwide.

He occasionally writes for his blog, BLathering On Gratuitously, and since 2016 has been writing for a trade publication, having over 70 articles published.

For more information about the event: https://www.facebook.com/events/284815468721231/

May 152018
 

How does the blues influence your writing style?

The strong, driving rhythms of the blues help to accent the meter and punch of my poems. I hear the riffs in my  head and before long I have a poem appear on paper.

How did the blues, or a particular musician or song, inspire the work you will present at Waterline?

The twang of the dobro or open tuning for bottle neck slides raises the hairs on my neck :  “Sweet Home Chicago,”  a classic Robert Johnson, “Trouble in Mind,”  a favorite sung by Lightnin’ Hopkins.

Bio

Sharon Kotzin Frolick has anchors in the sand of the Chesapeake Bay and seeds in tasseled grasses of mid-western prairies. As educator, facilitator and published author, Sharon brings a creative twist to the writing process. She lives in Naperville.

For more information about the event: https://www.facebook.com/events/284815468721231/

May 142018
 


How does the blues influence your writing style?

The musical aspect of poetry is very important to me. I “hear” a poem as I write and inner rhymes and line breaks are influenced by that. It’s not just the metrics of the blues that attracts me, but the subject matter: hardship, resignation, inspiration, passion, the elemental forces of life that so clearly and sometimes harshly resonate. I like the tactic of repetition in poetry, an essential strategy of the blues–how we respond as reader or listener to refrain.. The first poets were singers and the blues are poems, fierce and memorable poems that come from the soul.

Bio

Joan Colby has published widely in journals such as Poetry, Atlanta Review, South Dakota Review, Gargoyle, Pinyon, Little Patuxent Review, Spillway, Midwestern Gothic and others. Awards include two Illinois Arts Council Literary Awards and an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Literature. She has published 20 books including  Selected Poems” from FutureCycle Press which received the 2013 FutureCycle Prize and “Ribcage” from Glass Lyre Press which has been awarded the 2015 Kithara Book Prize. Three of her poems have been featured on Verse Daily and another is among the winners of the 2016 Atlanta Review International Poetry Contest. Her newest books are  “Carnival” from  FutureCycle Press and “The Seven Heavenly Virtues” from Kelsay Books. Her next book “Her Heartsongs’ will be published by Presa Press in 2018.  Colby is a senior editor of FutureCycle Press and an associate editor of Good Works Review.

For more information about the event: https://www.facebook.com/events/284815468721231/

Apr 282018