A Word from the Director
Photo by Géza Brunow
Asheville Wordfest is a grassroots poetry festival begun by local poets in 2008. In the past four years, the festival has presented poets from more than 25 cultural contexts, its main goal being to celebrate cultural diversity and multiculturalism as necessary groundwork for sustainability.
Multiculturalism is the human form of biodiversity. I believe it is vital that we open our minds and thought processes to as many cultural perceptions as possible. There are just too many ways to perceive the world and to navigate a path through it not to listen to as many as we can. When we are only listening to one voice of one culture, we're missing out on the whole voice of humanity, and that whole voice is the one that can survive in balance.
To further my exploration into cross-cultural understanding of life processes, in 2008, I also founded The Healing Seed Center for Geopoetics, a locus of disciplines, internal and external, tangible and intuitive. Poetics have long been a critical part of the human design and innovation, realms where ideas speak to another to generate a new conversation. Asheville Wordfest is one way of developing this conversation, and I hope you’ll come to some of the events over the course of the next few days.
This year's festival features more than 20 local poets and presents four internationally poets from beyond the mountains. LeAnne Howe is a Choctaw scholar, poet, activist and film-maker. Allison Adelle Hedge Coke, of Huron and Tsalagi heritage, grew up cropping tobacco and working fields and waters in the region. Arthur Sze, a second-generation Chinese-American, is a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. Matthew Shenoda is Egyptian American and serves as Director of Poetry for the Planet at the Institute for Sustainable Economic, Educational, and Environmental Design in Oakland, CA, where he is developing a curricular initiative that uses poetics as a framework to teach global sustainability issues to urban youth. (I would love to see a project similar to this evolve in Asheville.)
Local voices include Ekua Adisa, DeWayne Barton of Green Opportunities, Katherine Soniat of NOLA, Jeff Davis of MadHatters' Review, former Fire Department Battalion Chief Ron King, Barbie Angell, Jonathan Santos, Roberto Hess and more, mirroring just a few of the cultural dynamics of Asheville each weaving a voice into the whole voice of poetry.
In shaping Wordfest each year I draw on the concepts of Buckminster Fuller, alchemy in Western and Eastern forms and also from "mythological perspectives" from which the longest surviving people on the planet view the world. It's a weekend of complexity, of exposing ourselves to ideas and voices that resonate rather than argue, that explore rather than edit out. It's about the whole shape of the mind rather than one whittled down idea of what a mind, or a person, should do or be.
I look forward to seeing you at the fifth Asheville Wordfest.