It's always nice to see people you believe are talented win awards, or receive some sort of niceties for their work and efforts. In this case, the niceties are an award, and it's worth $100,000 to winner Vievee Francis (it's the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, which she received for her third published poetry collection, Forest Primeval (Northwestern University Press).
I'm a big fan of Vievee the poet, but maybe even a bigger fan of Vievee Francis, the person. One nice thing about never trashing emails, and/or having a blog, is the ability to sometimes track back to things.
June 1, 2006--I went to a poetry reading at the Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit to see four female poets. At this point in life, I know I knew Jessica Bomarito and believe I'd probably met Christina Kallary and maybe Norene Cashen as well, but I know I had no idea who Vievee Francis was. Hearing her read and chatting a bit afterward with her was an excellent introduction.
November 14, 2006--Vievee had emailed me the week prior and asked me to come get a coffee and talk about books--from the linked to post: "...the woman is a an absolute joy to spend time with. I'm sure we appeared to the other three or four people in the coffeeshop we met in, to be quite comical, getting more and more excited as our conversation moved forward and it became obvious that our reading tastes were pretty well aligned."
Vievee Francis should get some special commendation for putting together the Snowbound Reading Series. Half over now after last night’s reading, the performances have been fantastic. Last month’s readings (Blair, Kahn Davison, Versiz, and Matthew Olzmann) were excellent, and those of Will Copeland, Christina M. Archer and Tyehimba Jess last night were right up to that level, if not even slightly higher.
Free Press columnist (and per Vievee’s introduction, much more) Desiree Cooper was the hostess of the evening and she stressed the importance of Write Word, Write Now, the organization that the bulk of the readers in the Snowbound series are members of – a writing group of many extremely talented writers and performers. She also reminded the audience (which looked to hover just below 50 strong last night) to go out and spread the word about what was witnessed last night."
I remember seeing Vievee read that first time and moreso talking to her afterward. And I definitely remember hanging out with her at Cafe 1923 in Hamtramck and catching some stares from those trying to read or simply drink their coffee or tea in peace. And the Snowbound Series she and her husband, Matt Olzmann put together were incredible. Four readings, sixteen poets, many with slam background that Vievee was working with to get them to understand how to move that message to the page and the results were fantastic.
Seeing her win this big ol' award was fantastic and a great reason to wander down memory lane a bit.