Mind Gravy Poetry

Mind Gravy Poetry is the brain child of Columbia newcomer, Al Black, who took things into his own hands when he moved to the city and didn’t find a poetry reading series that met his personal needs. (There are several other poetry reading series in town including a Tuesday night session that leans toward slam at the Art Bar and, when university classes are in session, a series that originated out of the MFA program at USC, called The Shark’s Parlor.)

Al’s lovely wife returned to college when their four children got older, completing her Ph.D. from Purdue University at the age of 55, and moving to Newberry College in August 2008 to teach. In Indianapolis, the Blacks’ hometown, Al had been very active in the music and poetry scene and he regularly contributed satire to a liberal blog.

Missing his old Indianapolis fun and a venue for sharing written word poetry, Al started Mind Gravy at the now defunct Gotham Bagels a little over a year ago. The site of the readings has changed as businesses closed and the group of regulars grew, and in February the regular reading moved to Artsy Fartsy Art Gallery and Coffee Bar in Cayce.

“We are bursting at the seams,” Al says. “Most nights we have 10 or more people standing and we total 40-50 people.”

Tonight, Jasper Magazine literary editor, Ed Madden, along with Ray McManus will be the featured poets. Rev. Marv Ward is the musical guest.

A few more things Al would like friends of Jasper to keep in mind:


*We are a free venue & no participants are paid

*We go every Wednesday from 8-10 PM

*We start with a guest musician (original music), followed by the featured
poet and then open mic

*We have had featured poets from VA, NC, TN, GA, FL & SC

*70% of the featured poets are page poets, but we have featured performance, slam, dub and hip hop poets in the past

*Our music runs from SC folk/country to R&B, hip hop and everything in

*Open mic is limited to 2 pieces per person – all types of poetry, all types of music, an occasional dance, once a magician and once a comedian – we try
to be positive and encouraging of all levels artistic expression

*We expect to begin webcasting in October – this will widen our market and our reach for featured poets

*Al doesn’t feature himself, but sometimes he’ll read a piece or two during open mic

*Occasionally, we will have an artist paint during the event

*An interesting note — about two months ago, the house-mother for a group home for developmentally handicapped women started bringing 6 of the women to Mind
Gravy. They come each week, enjoy themselves, leave at 9:30 and are
respected & appreciated by our regulars – it is the most unusual thing I
have ever seen. (Jasper’s heart swelled a little when he read this.)

*The first Wednesday of each month is youth night – adults come, but it is youth performers

*The 2nd & 4th Wednesdays are normal Mind Gravy

*The 3rd Wednesdays Al hosts the Columbia Writer’s Alliance — same format, but Al is trying to encourage this organization started by African-American women –
so we call it Mind Gravy presents Columbia Writer’s Alliance

*Whenever we have a 5th Wednesday, we do it on some special theme – this month has
a 5th Wednesday and the theme is percussion; we have some different percussionists coming in and, of course, poetry

*Mind Gravy operates on the premise that cross-pollination of different art
forms at the event increases the audience size and diversity, engenders appreciation of differences between art forms; creates an environment that encourages collaboration and, is just a delightfully wonderful time.


Well, those dear readers who are familiar with the mission of Jasper Magazine, know that Al just said the magic words. Collaboration, coming out of our single-disciplinary arts caves, and contributing to and taking inspiration from other artistic genres and communities is a sure-fire way of building and enriching a sustaining community of artists and arts lovers.

Congratulations to Al Black and the participants of Mind Gravy for being pro-active and pro-arts. Be sure to check them out tonight or any Wednesday when you need some words to soothe your soul.

And before you leave us today, please take a moment to look to your right on this screen and go ahead a and subscribe to your daily dose of “What Jasper Said.” We don’t want you to miss a word.

And please check out our website at www.jaspercolumbia.com.

Thanks, Y’all.

— cb

About Jasper

What Jasper Said is the blogging arm of Jasper – The Word on Columbia Arts, a new written-word oriented arts magazine that serves artists and arts lovers in the Columbia, SC area and its environs in four ways: Via Print Media – Jasper is a bi-monthly magazine, releasing in print six times per year in September, November, January, March, May & July, on the 15th of each month. Jasper covers the latest in theatre and dance, visual arts, literary arts, music, and film as well as arts events and happenings; Via Website – Jasper is an interactive website complete with a visual arts gallery, messages from Jasper, an arts events calendar that is updated several times daily, bite-sized stories on arts events, guest editorials, local music, dance & theatre videos, community surveys, and more; Via Blog – What Jasper Said -- you're reading this now -- is a daily blog featuring a rotating schedule of bloggers from the Jasper staff as well as guest bloggers from throughout the arts community; Via Twitter – Jasper Advises is a method of updating the arts community on arts events, as they happen, with more than a half dozen active tweeters who live, work, and play inside the arts community everyday ~ Jasper Advises keeps the arts community abreast of what not to miss, what is happening when it is happening, and where to be to experience it first hand.
This entry was posted in Al Black, Columbia Writers' Alliance, Ed Madden, Ed McManus, General, Jasper Magazine, Mind Gravy, Rev. Marv Ward and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Mind Gravy Poetry

  1. Al Black says:

    I may have started Mind Gravy Poetry, but is all the creative minds and fans that make it what it is and what it will become. Thanks, to Jasper Magazine for raising the creativity bar a little higher here in Greater Columbia. Blessings

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