Little Rock Culture Vulture

Cultural events, places and people in the Little Rock area


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Godspeed Scott Walters

scottwaltersdepartureFor twelve years, Scott Walters has been an advocate for many things in Little Rock.  One of these has been the arts — especially literature, visual arts and music.

His tenure as Rector of Christ Church saw the concerts by Mavis Staples and the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, the development of The Undercroft music venue, the creation of the Sixth Street Library gallery, and partnerships with the Arkansas Literary Festival.

As he moves on to his next adventure in Memphis, this is a chance to say farewell to him.

 

CHANGES AND CHANCES

A troubadour of truths once came
to a church of rock in a city built on a rock.
A language loving scholar with an interest in seemingly everything
He was a student of cultures (both pop and high).

He was called to aid people as they worked and watched and wept.
With his carpenter’s hands he
Crafted,
Carved,
Hewed,
Shaped.

During times of joy and woe, he shared insight he had gained.
In his brilliantly simple and simply brilliant words he referenced
Sacred Texts
NPR stories
YouTube videos
Childhood memories.

Like the philosophers of old, he raised questions not easily answered.
As he sought to make sense of a world that too often
Confounds
Confuses
Conflates
Confutes.

But, as in his carpentry days, he used his tools and
Found a way to restore equilibrium and return the bubble to the
Middle
Level
Even
Balanced.

Though at home in a pulpit,
he was equally at ease walking the streets
Be they the sidewalks of his city
Or a pilgrimage through Spain.

His unassuming manner was on display whether chatting with
Prize winning poets
Presiding Bishops
Preschoolers
And all other personalities included in this story of human redemption.

The troubadour and his family embraced the church of rock,
Its neighborhood and its city built on a rock.
As active participants in its life
Their impact spread far beyond the half of a city block.

Now

There are many more lessons to teach.
There are many more lives to touch.
There are new words to explain.
There are new worlds to explore.

When particles collide, they are forever changed.
(That is what physicists tell us in their not-so-ancient texts.)
Hurtling on their new trajectories, seeking new directions,
The particles are eternally impacted because of the contact.

This church of rock in the city on a rock
Is likewise evermore transformed by the troubadour and his household.
A dozen years of tears, laughter, memories
And ordinary time that twas always more than that.

In improvisation (this troubadour once noted)
there is a perfect response when met with a strange new reality.
It is two words which accept that revised status quo
And anticipate the unforeseen.

So now as the troubadour and his family
venture into their new realms
And as the church of rock in the city on a rock
Remains with a renewed purpose

Collectively everyone takes a breath,
A pause
A prayer
A smile
A tear

And utters with gratitude for the past
And anticipation for the future

“Yes, and….”

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Creative Class 2016: Kevin Brockmeier

cc16-brockmeierIn addition to his most recent work, A Few Seconds of Radiant Filmstrip, KEVIN BROCKMEIER is the author of the novels The Illumination, The Brief History of the Dead, and The Truth About Celia; the story collections Things That Fall from the Sky and The View from the Seventh Layer; and the children’s novels City of Names and Grooves: A Kind of Mystery.

His work has been translated into seventeen languages. He has published his stories in such venues as The New Yorker, The Georgia Review, McSweeney’s, Zoetrope, Tin House, The Oxford American, The Best American Short Stories, The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror, and New Stories from the South. He has received the Borders Original Voices Award, three O. Henry Awards (one, a first prize), the PEN USA Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and an NEA Grant. In 2007, he was named one of Granta magazine’s Best Young American Novelists. He teaches frequently at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

A graduate of Parkview Arts and Science Magnet High School and Missouri State University, he attended the Iowa Writers’ Workshop program at the University of Iowa, studying under such names as Frank Conroy and Marilynn Robinson, and graduated in 1997 with an MFA degree.  He is probably the only author to have participated in every single Arkansas Literary Festival.


2016 Arkansas Literary Festival dates and lineup announced

ALF 2016_textPrestigious award-winners, screenwriters, comedians, an expert witness, artists, and a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet are among the diverse roster of presenters who will be providing sessions at the thirteenth annual Arkansas Literary Festival, April 14-17, 2016. The Central Arkansas Library System’s Main Library campus and many other Little Rock venues are the sites for a stimulating mix of sessions, panels, special events, performances, workshops, presentations, opportunities to meet authors, book sales, and book signings. Most events are free and open to the public.
     The Arkansas Literary Festival, the premier gathering of readers and writers in Arkansas, will include more than 80 presenters including featured authors from approximately 24 different states and guests hailing from Canada, England, Russia, and Singapore. Each year, several of the attending authors have not visited Little Rock, Arkansas, or even the South.
     Presenters come from a wide range of backgrounds including: journalist, documentary filmmaker, economist, editor, microbiologist, national bank examiner, essayist, photographer, sports reporter, psychological examiner, musician, actress, reporter, and professor. One is co-producing Keanu Reeves’ new television show and writing an adaptation of his own book for Warner Bros. and Bradley Cooper.
     Special events for adults during the Festival include a cocktail reception with the authors, a tour of the Governor’s Mansion gardens with a wine and cheese reception, an escape room, and Readers’ Map of Arkansas launch party. Panels and sessions include genres and topics such as literary fiction, barbecue, Monopoly, female rocket scientists, travel, graphic novels, science fiction, classic literature, and a story told in playing cards.
     Children’s special events include a session by Nikki Grimes, activity hour, concert by the Kinders, and the play How the Camel Got His Hump. based on Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories. Festival sessions for children will take place at both the Hillary Rodham Clinton Children’s Library and Learning Center, 4800 10th Street, and the Youth Services Department at the Main Library, 100 Rock Street. Special events for teens include North Little Rock High School Readers Theater, a teen poetry competition, and a panel with three authors of books for young adults.
     Through the Writers In The Schools (WITS) initiative, the Festival will provide presentations by several authors for central Arkansas elementary, middle, and senior high schools and area colleges.
     Author! Author!, a cocktail reception with the authors, will be Friday, April 15, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25 in advance and $40 at the door, and go on sale at ArkansasLiteraryFestival.org beginning Monday, March 15.
     This year’s Festival authors have won an impressive number and variety of distinguished awards and fellowships including: Pulitzer Prize, James Beard Award, PEN/Hemingway Award, Hugo Award, Coretta Scott King Award, Will Eisner Comic Industry Award, National Book Foundation “5 Under 35” Honoree, Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award, Dashiell Hammett Prize, Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Selection, National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, Fulbright Fellowship, Guggenheim Fellowship, Houghton Mifflen Literary Fellowship, Arkansas Arts Council Fellowship.
     The work of this year’s Festival authors has been featured in notable publications including: New York Times, Details, McSweeney’s Quarterly, Forbes, the Paris Review, theHuffington Post, Women’s Health, Gourmet Magazine, the New Republic, the Los Angeles Times, Smithsonian, the Daily Telegraph UK, VICE, the New Yorker, Harper’s, the Atlantic, Slate, Time, Popular Science, Salon, the Best American Travel Writing, Outside Magazine, Esquire, USA Today, Reader’s Digest, Best American Essays, Best American Short Stories, Penthouse, the Nation, Best American Poetry, the Washington Post, Town & Country, the Economist, the Christian Science Monitor, National Geographic, the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Rolling Stone, GQ, Sports Illustrated, and Vogue
     The Literary Festival is presented by the Central Arkansas Library System. Sponsors include Arkansas Humanities Council, Friends of Central Arkansas Library System (FOCAL), Clinton Presidential Center, Fred K. Darragh Jr. Foundation, KUAR FM 89.1, ProSmartPrinting.com, Rebsamen Fund, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Arkansas Times, Gibbs Elementary School, Hendrix-Murphy Foundation Programs in Literature and Language, MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History, Museum of Discovery, Otter Creek Elementary School, UALR Department of English, Windstream, Arkansas Library Association, Christ Episcopal Church, East Harding Construction, Hampton Inn, Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center, Henderson State University, Hendrix College Project Pericles Program, University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service, Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center, Greater Little Rock Council of Garden Clubs, Capital Hotel, City of Little Rock, Et Alia Press, Consulate General of Israel to the Southwest, Literacy Action of Central Arkansas, Mayor Mark Stodola, Mollie Savage Memorial/CALS, North Little Rock High School, Plum Street Publishers, Inc., Pyramid Art Books & Custom Framing/Hearne Fine Art, Sibling Rivalry Press, Stickyz Rock ‘N’ Roll Chicken Shack, UALR Department of Rhetoric and Writing, and Whole Hog. The Arkansas Literary Festival is supported in part by funds from the Arkansas Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
     The Festival’s mission is to encourage the development of a more literate populace. A group of dedicated volunteers assists Festival Coordinator Brad Mooy with planning the Festival. Committee chairs include Kevin Brockmeier, Talent Committee; Susan Santa Cruz, Festival Guides; and Amy Bradley-Hole, Moderators.
     Visit the Festival Facebook and Twitter pages to get the latest news about the Festival. For more information about the 2016 Arkansas Literary Festival, visit ArkansasLiteraryFestival.org, or contact Brad Mooy at bmooy@cals.org or 918-3098. For information on volunteering at the Festival, contact Angela Delaney at adelaney@cals.org or 918-3095.


Creative Class of 2015: Scott Walters

scottwaltersOctober may have ended yesterday. But since this is about Creativity, the Creative Class stretches into November for one day this year.  Scott Walters uses his position as Rector of Christ Church to build connections and raise awareness of a variety of art forms and creative disciplines.

Through his leadership and encouragement, two different public gallery spaces have been created at Christ Church, an Arts at Christ Church series has been launched (featuring all types of music from Grammy winning soul to Renaissance chamber), the basement has been turned into The Undercroft music venue with regular performances, and a partnership with the Arkansas Literary Festival has been undertaken.

Concerned with the built environment, he has led walking tours of downtown which have focused not only on the history of the neighborhood but also looking at its present and envisioning its future possibilities.  Because Christ Church is at a hub of development in the River Market, Creative Corridor, SoMa, MacArthur Park and Hanger Hill, he is exploring ways to more actively integrate the church into its greater community.

Interested in historic preservation, he is currently shepherding an effort to restore the historic stained glass windows at the church. A student of poetry, philosophy and urban planning, he can often be found engaged in discussions about those topics.  But he is just as likely to discuss comedians, YouTube videos, and the local music scene.


Creative Class of 2015: Frank Thurmond

thurmond_frankFrank Thurmond is a writer-musician-actor-filmmaker-teacher. He is, in short, a multi-hyphenate!

Thurmond was born in Paragould and grew up in Crossett and Little Rock, where he attended Hall High School.  He studied English and music as a Donaghey Scholar at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and pursued graduate degrees at Southern Methodist University and Oxford University. Thurmond is a Visiting Assistant Professor of English at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and has been a visiting writer in residence at Lyon College in Batesville.

 
Most recently, he released Ring of Five: A Novella and Four Stories.  Thurmond’s first book was a memoir entitled Before I Sleep: A Memoir of Travel and Reconciliation, which recounts his adult experience of meeting his previously unknown birth father.  He is a member of the bands ODYSSEY and JET420 and can often be found playing at local stages.
The film The Dealer’s Tale, which he wrote and produced (and is directed by Justin Nickels) will screen as an Official Selection at the Indie Memphis film festival on Friday, November 6th.  When it screened at the El Dorado Film Festival, Thurmond was awarded the Best Screenplay Award at the El Dorado Film Festival.
           
He has been featured at both the Arkansas Literary Festival and the Little Rock Film Festival.  Previously, Thurmond’s writing has appeared in various publications, including the International Herald Tribune; The Best of Tales from the South, Volume 6; Toad Suck Review; and in William Safire’s language book, No Uncertain Terms.


And then there were Two – Finalists for next CALS Director announced

calsThe Transition/Selection Committee of the Central Arkansas Library System (CALS) has recommended the CALS Board of Trustees consider two candidates, Nate Coulter and Haley Lagasse, both of Little Rock, as the final candidates for the position of director.

The next director will succeed longtime director Dr. Bobby Roberts.

There will be a reception in mid-November open to anyone interested in meeting the finalists. An announcement of the new director will be made following the Board of Trustees meeting on Thursday, December 10, at noon at Hillcrest Hall, 1501 Kavanaugh Blvd.


Creative Class of 2015: Jay Jennings

jennings_jayAuthor, raconteur, and music aficionado Jay Jennings contributes to Little Rock’s cultural life in a variety of ways as a participant and promoter. He may well know more about author Charles Portis, than the author himself.  When not traveling to discuss or create good literature, he is often found at various Little Rock music venues.

Jennings is a freelance writer whose journalism, book reviews and humor have appeared in many national magazines and newspapers, including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, the Oxford American, and Travel & Leisure. He is a regular contributor to the New York Times Book Review and the San Francisco Chronicle, and is a past chair of the Arkansas Literary Festival.

He began his writing career as a reporter at Sports Illustrated, where he covered college football and basketball, followed by four years as the features editor at Tennis magazine. While at the latter, he edited an anthology of short stories and poetry, Tennis and the Meaning of Life: A Literary Anthology of the Game(Breakaway Books, 1999), which the New Yorker called “a delight—and perhaps a surprise—to those who know and care about literature.” His work has been recognized by The Best American Sports Writing annual and has appeared in the humor anthology Mirth of a Nation: The Best Contemporary Humor. He is a two-time MacDowell Colony fellow in fiction and was awarded a grant in 2008 from the Arkansas Arts Council for a novel-in-progress. Most recently, he edited a collection of Charles Portis’s work, Escape Velocity: A Charles Portis Miscellany, which was published in 2012 by Butler Center Books and in paperback in 2013 by Overlook Press.

Carry the Rock: Race, Football and the Soul of an American City was his first book and was named a 2010 Okra Pick by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance.