Category Archives: photo

Doing the Doo at Boo-Nanny

The Word Nest
Wendi's Word Nest at Boo-Nanny

After a couple of whirlwind months of bringing Poetry Alive! to schools in various states I caught a ride with the Screaming Js caravan to the Doo-Nanny in Seale, AL. We arrived at 6am Friday and while the sleepers slept I covered J.P.’s big green van with magnetic poetry. There is something cleansing about having a few hours of silence to yourself with nothing but birdsong for inspiration as you pull random words from a bag and try to make sense of them.

Screaming Jake's Church of the Dead
Screaming Jake's Church of the Dead

I saved one small box for Screaming Jake’s church of the dead which was raised quickly once the sleeper’s awoke. I didn’t take pictures of the poetry on the church, so that will have to remain a memory in the thoughts of those who had a chance to explore it for that moment in time.

After all the magnets were placed, J.P. & I put the finishing touches on the backstage “Green Room” which gave me the perfect place to hide out while practicing or watch the world from above while typing. Then it was our turn to go exploring.

J.P. in the "Green Room"
J.P. in the "Green Room"

That night we ventured downtown for the Possum Trot auction & a delicious boil of shrimp, sausage, corn & potatoes. I heard the whole life story of some locals enchanted by the glimmer of bubbles & regretted not having a single dollar on me to bid on the amazing art going at bargain prices. We danced to Screaming Jake’s juke joint piano playing until the sweat streamed off our faces and then loaded up to howl to the moon from the stage with whatever song bubbled up. The best thing about that night was reaching the point when we were all playing…no longer performing.

When you perform for a living, the stress of the work often can take the fun out of it. Especially when folks assume that because it looks like you’re having fun that you’re willing to entertain them for free. They miss the part where you’ve spent six hours balancing artistic egos in a car and another six setting up the stage & equipment & magic that makes it all look and sound so fun knowing that when it’s all done and you’re exhausted it will be time to take it all down and move on to the next job.

Friday night was a night for the artists to play and after a sound night’s sleep we woke slowly to the drizzly grey day of the Doo or Boo-Nanny since it was also Halloween. We mostly kept to the caves we built for ourselves as the locals came in to view the Doo. I sold a few poems off the wall and gave away more while taking some time to stare at the sky and listen to others do the work. Finally when the rain let up Jenny Greer & the Screaming Js took the stage for the lighting of the Doo-Nanny to an impromptu rendition of Burning Ring of Fire. That was the spark that set the music in motion with non-stop boogie until at 1:30am. As if in a daze, we finally abandoned the lights of the stage realizing it was cold enough that we should gather close by the bonfires for ghost stories, tall tales & more sing-alongs led by the ever shining Jenny.

The full moon lit the village and made mystery of the mist rising off the lake in the wee hours as we each found a spot to burrow against the chill before dawn. The next day bloomed bright and beautiful and I finally found time to explore Butch Anthony’s Museum of Wonder. That alone is worth a visit to Seale, AL any time of the year. After a little time to myself for practice we packed up & hit the road again.

Finally, I now have a few days to spend at home & want nothing more than to continue to sing, dance, play, & make art. Do the Doo.

DooNanny Poem from the Underwood
DooNanny Poem from the Underwood

Crossing Bridges

Bridge crossing out of New England
Bridge crossing out of New England
I drove 2,258 miles for Poetry Alive! last week crossing more bridges than I could count only to arrive back in North Carolina to bridge the gap between my old home and my new home. Yet I’m not one to burn bridges and still find myself torn between the community of Tryon and Asheville. For that matter I am constantly trying to bridge the gap between the culture of Western Washington where I was raised and North Carolina where I have had a home for 10 years now. The more bridges I cross the more I realize how similar we all are, but there are rivers, valleys, and mountains between the culture of communities where people find solace. What a boring world this would be if everywhere you went was exactly alike! None of the bridges we crossed were one way. The exchange of information and ideas from people of each culture flows both ways. The more time I spend on the road the more I feel like a bridge where this exchange takes place and home becomes a place in my heart unattached to any physical location.