Literary Arts

15B Book Awards Reading: Bring a Friend Who Doesn’t Read Poems

Photo of Paisley Rekdal by Austen Diamond

If the Three Tenors can draw stadium-size crowds, why not poets? Asphodel, That Greeny Flower by Williams Carlos Williams (d. 1963) is an institutionally well-established poem among writers, coffee shop patrons, bar flies and academics. The modernist love poem discovers a certitude so resonant as to be mistaken for long-remembered truths and provides ample argument for why poetry should sell out the Salt Palace or Vivint Smart Home Arena.

It is difficult

To get the news from poems

Yet men die miserably every day

For lack of what is found there.


Readers of poems understand this statement to be true, but many more deserve to learn as much.

Great poems do this: they unearth some aspect of experience and needle it forward into light. Upon recognition, our understanding shines forward and back because poetic truth (which Aristotle placed above the historical) enjoys a quality of timelessness. The often quoted lines of Williams reveal as much about our human condition now as ever before.

On Thursday, Nov. 9, Utah Poet Laureate Paisley Rekdal will read alongside previous Utah Poet Laureate Katharine Coles and longtime word-shaker, sonosopher, poet, and polyartist Alex Caldiero—finalists for this year’s 15 Bytes Book Award in poetry.

In anticipation of this night to honor all three and experience their poetry read out loud, we caught up with Paisley Rekdal (this year’s winner of the 15 Bytes award) to learn a bit more about our Poet Laureate as a neighbor and friend in the community.

On any given Sunday, Paisley prefers jogging and practicing guitar. She collects kaleidoscopes, which she describes as “surprisingly hard to find.” She isn’t a collector of books, per se, because she purchases them to read. “Once read, however, they rarely leave my house.”

This should not suggest that she can find the book she’s looking for: “I have hundreds of books, and stupidly I just put them on my shelves without alphabetizing them. Which means that I can spend up to half an hour trying to find the poetry book I really want to read again.”

When asked to choose between mornings and nights, modern and vintage, Paisley responds with classic wit: “Both to both.”

When asked to choose a category and name the one, she says, “Drink. Rye Whiskey.”

Our final question: What do you love?

“Anyone who displays real curiosity and enthusiasm,” Paisley concludes.

Having been on the “poetry road” to read and promote her work nonstop for the past six weeks (California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, and Washington), Paisley Rekdal will return to share the stage with Katharine Coles and Alex Caldiero for a remarkable night of spunk and poems to spare.

In the name of enthusiasm and curiosity: Be there with someone who wouldn’t be.


2017 15 Bytes Book Awards (Poetry)
Presentation and Readings
Paisley Rekdal (winner)
Alex Caldiero (finalist)
Katharine Coles (finalist)

The Printed Garden Bookshop
9445 S. Union Square, Sandy
7:00 p.m.

Reception, book sale and signings will follow
Free and Open to the Public


Categories: Literary Arts

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