Monthly Archives: July 2009

Goodbye, Dean

We are terribly saddened by the passing of our friend, Dean Johnson.

You may remember Dean’s soothing voice on KNIA/KRLS, our local radio station, guiding us, with his co-anchor — most lately Alex Rusciano — through the morning news, the obituaries and school lunches, and of course the severe weather alerts that keep us glued to the radio.

You may also remember Dean as one of the poets at our Next Chapter poetry slams, and sometimes during the Autumn Studio Tour.  His poems were usually short and sweet, but packed a punch couched in the profound nature of everyday things and the immediacy of extraordinary moments.

We’ll miss your voice and your perspective, Dean.  Go in peace.

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Posted by on July 28, 2009 in Uncategorized


The Next Project!

Are you a crafter (needlework, papercrafts, etc.)?  Would you like to come to a monthly crafter’s gathering to work on your projects, visit with other crafters, and have some snacks?  We’d like to hear from you what times might be most convenient for you to attend such an event.


“Relics” Release Party a Great Success!

DSCN0019We ran out of standing room last night at the Next Chapter, as multimedia artist Michael Hammond and oral poet, Joe Plum, celebrated the release of their new book and DVD combination entitled Relics: Deep Mythic Image Poetry.

Mr. Hammond started things off with an entertaining description of traipsing about the countryside with his at-risk camera equipment searching for the perfect places to film complementary footage for the unwritten poetry that Plum composes.  The DVD is a lyrical visual interpretation of Plums words, skimming across the Iowa landscape as if the camera’s eye was that of one of the spirits who inhabit the poetry. The images celebrate the artistry of nature, with an intimate affection for the rugged landscapes it captures.

Michael Hammond

Michael Hammond

Attendees were unable to get the full effect of the gorgeous photography that Hammond showed us, due to some technical issues during the event; however, I know that for me, a quiet hour with the Relics DVD, a large-screen TV, and possibly a glass of fine wine is definitely on the docket some time soon!

After Hammond finished, Joe Plum took the microphone, and effortlessly flowed from casual narrative into his particular brand of complex mythic poetry and back again as if he were chatting over a cup of coffee.  Punctuated by the beat of a small hand-drum, the poetry lulled the audience into a slightly different state of consciousness where ancient knowledge flows  just below the surface and we feel that his words, composed over months and years following dream visions, are meant for us alone.

Plum answered questions about his artistic process and how he came to be an oral poet.  He said that he began composing his poems at an early age, and that as he grows older, he is better able to understand the dreams that initiate the poetry, and has structured his life so that he can be alone and work uninterrupted sometimes for weeks on end, so as not to lose the images and emotions he experiences in these dreams.  Some poems take years to compose, others come more quickly, and none of them are written unless they have been transcribed by someone else, as the poems in Relics have been.

Joe Plum and his hand drum

Joe Plum and his hand drum

The poetry itself is rendered in deceptively straightforward language with simple rhyming patterns, but the messages are complex and elemental, evocative of both the dream worlds Plum inhabits, but also of the internal landscapes of our own daily struggles.

i know
that my knowing
separates me from my being
and that being
keeps me from becoming
and that becoming
is but dusty powder made
by grinding here and there

from the poem “Relics”, by Joseph S. Plum

We are so pleased to have had the opportunity to share the wonderful artwork of these two gentlemen with the Marion County community, and we are so grateful for your ongoing support of these cultural events. We would also like to thank Jen Hall for helping Joe and Michael prepare; and Dr. Bob Leonard and KNIA/KRLS for producing and airing a program on Relics and for the loan of their sound equipment.

Relics (book and DVD) is available at The Next Chapter in limited quantities for $22.00 each.

What a great crowd!

What a great crowd!

More of the great audience!

More of the great audience!


“Relics” Release Party Friday!



We are pleased to host local oral poet , Joseph Plum, at a release party for Plum’s brand-new book and DVD entitled Relics: Deep Mythic Image Poetry!

Join us this Friday, July 24th, at 6 pm, when Joe will share a few pieces of his particular brand of spiritually provocative poetry meant to be recited in the ancient tradition of the oral poets of our ancestors.  Afterward, meet Plum and have your copy signed by the author.  If you have never heard Joe Plum in person, this is a great opportunity to experience a true artist at work, and if you have heard him before, you won’t want to miss this evening.

“The meter and rhyme undulate and shift to keep the ear interested, and startling metaphors flare even as the poems reach their moral climaxes.  The search in many of the poems is for a kind of wholeness of spirit and body, spirit and earth.”

Keith Ratzlaff

The Next Chapter is excited to bring this special event as part of our mission to bring cultural events to Marion County and to promote and encourage both the literary arts in general, and local writers in particular.  And, of course, when the opportunity to host Plum came up, we jumped at the chance!

If you are interested in hearing more, Dr. Bob Leonard will interview Joe Plum tomorrow on KNIA/KRLS Radio’s In-Depth news program (1320 AM or 92.1 FM; or online at — scroll down to “In-Depth”).

You can also visit Joe’s web site at: .

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