Still time for schools to sign up for Poetry Out Loud

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Plan now to see Arkansas high school students compete in the Arkansas Poetry Out Loud statewide poetry recitation competition March 14, 2020!

High school students will compete at their individual schools throughout this fall. Winners at the school level will compete at the state competition for a chance to represent Arkansas at the National Poetry Out Loud competition this spring. The National Champion wins $20,000!

Poetry Out Loud is made possible through the partnership of the National Endowment for the Arts, Poetry Foundation and Arkansas Arts Council.

For more information visit or by contacting Sandrekkia Morning at Teachers who are interested in their high school students participating should contact Morning before Nov. 1.

Poetic Tribute for Karen Hayes

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, sitting, text and indoorLast week, local poet Karen Hayes put a period on her earthly writing.

Tonight from 6:30pm to 8:30pm, some of her friends and fans are honoring her memory with a Poetic Tribute.  It will take place at Guillermo’s Gourmet Coffee (10700 N Rodney Parham).

This is a chance to join others in a night of celebrating the life, passion, and poetry of the inimitable Karen Hayes. Poets will read from her works, and recall the joy and love of this vibrant poet, friend, and lover of all.

This is a way to celebrate Karen in the best way possible, and in the way she lived her life – with heart and words.

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.



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

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

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

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
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.


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….”

The Arkansas Arts Council seeking applications for Individual Artist Fellowships

aaclogo_vertical_colorThe Arkansas Arts Council is accepting applications for its Individual Artist Fellowships. The deadline to apply is April 15, 2016.

The Individual Artist Fellowships annually recognize individual artistic ability and creative excellence to encourage the continuing artistic development of the selected recipients. To be eligible for a fellowship, an artist must be at least 25 years old and must have been an Arkansas resident for at least one year at the time of application.

Individual Artist Fellowships are unconditional, non-matching awards made directly to individual artists. Awarded annually, these fellowships recognize the artistic creative excellence of the recipient’s work and enable the selected artists to devote more time and energy to creating their art and mastering their craft. Funding categories change each year.

Up to nine Individual Artist Fellowships worth $4,000 each will be awarded to artists in the following categories:

  • Literary Arts – Poetry
  • Performing Arts – Music Composition (Folk/Gospel/Jazz/Pop)
  • Visual Arts – Painting (Paintings may include work on canvas, panel, or board, but not on paper.)

Click HERE to download an application, or contact the Arkansas Arts Council at (501) 324-9766. For more information, call Robin McClea at (501) 324-9348 or e-mail

The Arkansas Arts Council is an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage.

For Poetry Month – Epilogue

Since April is Poetry Month, here is a poem written by the Culture Vulture.  It was inspired by visits to the Old State House Museum and Women’s City Club buildings before they were renovated.


scratched oak floors
plaster peeling off of the walls
banisters smoothed by time’s sandpaper
the chandelier–Arachne’s loom
dank, dusty, musty odors permeate from
the drapes hanging
like Babylon’s gardens
the ballroom is lifeless.

But, stop and listen

Strains of music
The rustle of taffeta and satin as
Women practice Terpsichore’s art
Whirling and swirling around with
Men in white tie and tails.
The clinking of glasses
To toast triumphs…and future hopes.

All of these are as much a part of the room as

scratched oak floors
plaster peeling off of the walls
banisters smoothed by time’s sandpaper….

LR Cultural Touchstone: Bernie Babcock

BabcockBernie_fLittle Rock’s rich cultural history has been influenced by many outstanding men and women.  This October, during Arts & Humanities Month 2014, the Culture Vulture is looking at 31 outstanding women who have shaped cultural life in Little Rock…and beyond.

Julia Burnelle “Bernie” Smade Babcock was an author and museum founder.  Born in April 1868 in Ohio, she moved with her family to Arkansas as a child.  Marrying and starting a family, she also continued to write, which had been a passion since she was younger.  When her husband died, leaving her with five children, she starting writing for money. She published several temperance novels and later wrote for the Arkansas Democrat.  She also published a magazine and a poetry anthology.  She later became recognized as an expert on Abraham Lincoln and wrote several books about him, as well as other historical figures.

In 1927, after professional curmudgeon H. L. Mencken wrote derisively of Arkansas, she decided to start a museum. The Museum of Natural History and Antiquities was first located in a Main Street storefront.  In 1929, she “gave the City of Little Rock a Christmas present” by giving the museum to the city.  It was relocated to the unfinished third floor of City Hall, with her as its employee.  In 1933, as New Deal programs were ramping up, the space was needed for WPA offices, and the museum was shuttered. Many of the museum’s artifacts were lost during this time.    She became folklore editor for the Federal Writers’ Project in 1935.

In 1941, she and businessman Fred Allsopp convinced the City of Little Rock to reopen the museum (then known as the Museum of Natural History) by locating it in the old Arsenal Building in City Park.  She lived in the basement of the building.  She was involved in the efforts to rename City Park in honor of Douglas MacArthur (who had been born there) and welcomed him when he came to Little Rock in 1952.  Retiring from the museum in 1953, she donated some items and billed the City $800 for others. That money was her retirement pension at age 85.

Moving to Petit Jean Mountain, she wrote, painted and published poetry.  She died in June 1962 at age 94.  She is buried in Little Rock’s Oakland Cemetery.

After more name changes and a relocation, her museum is now known as the Museum of Discovery and is an anchor in the River Market district.