Thursday, November 1, 2012

Preview of Brown & Heil

We are so exciting to be hosting J. Camp Brown & Kathleen Heil on Friday, 9 Nov. at 10:00 a.m. that we wanted to share a bit about each of them in advance.

You are not going to want to miss this!

 J. Camp Brown is a mandolinist living in Fort Smith, AR with his wife and sons.  He has spent much of the last decade playing bluegrass -- with its gospels, its murderous ballads, its sorrowful, lost loves, and its dueling impulses to both ramble from and return to the home place -- in dive bars, for fish fries, on street corners, at hecklers, and amidst various congregations of burlesque dancers, bikers, and old timers.  He is a 2012 Arkansas Arts Council Fellow and an MFA candidate at the University of Arkansas.   His poems have appeared in Nashville Review and Prick of the Spindle.  

J. Camp Brown’s poetry is thick with back roads and juke joints, sex and the Lord.  Constructing a larger, though lyrically murky, narrative that follows a contemporary minstrel through domestic and spiritual crises and triumphs, Brown's persona is part soliloquist, part dramatist, part preacher, and a large part miscreant.  His poems are for anyone that loves music, everyone that has hated love, and all those that have been stranded by a flat tire.

Kathleen Heil's fiction, essays, and poetry have been published, in English and Spanish, in The Barcelona Review, Hermano Cerdo, The Rumpus, PANK, and Pear Noir!, among others. Originally from New Orleans, Kathleen has a Master’s degree in Creación Literaria from the Escuela Contemporánea de Humanidades in Madrid, and currently resides in the U.S., where she is the 2012 Walton Fellow in Translation at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. More info at

Happy relationships might be all alike, but every unhappy relationship is unhappy in its own way, and Kathleen Heil’s fiction is a record of her interest in exploring the hope and loss found at the intersection where love, desire, sex, and estrangement meet in her book-length manuscript of short stories Profane Love. When not translating short stories by the Argentinian writer Patricio Pron, Heil is currently at work on a novel about art, life, and Andy Warhol entitled You Disappoint Me.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Reviews of Padma Viswanathan's The Toss of a Lemon

On Thursday, October 25, 2013, Padma Viswanathan will read at 6:00 p.m. in the RJ Wills Lecture Hall.  Viswanathan will discuss her debut novel The Toss of a Lemon as well as read from newer work. 

Here's what a sample of reviewers have to say about The Toss of a Lemon.

Viswanathan's book, like Rushdie's work, aims for epic status. But it actually achieves something that is in many ways more nuanced than the broad brushstrokes of an epic: a meditation on fate's workings in a family dominated by the quiet rule of one woman — and the struggle of her son against the strictures of her belief.” —Washington Post

“[A] stunning first novel... The brilliance of The Toss of a Lemon rests not so much in its intricate plotting as in the compressed, poetic precision with which Viswanathan depicts a lost world.” —The Walrus

“Despite the saga’s length, there are no dull moments or extraneous scenes. Most impressively, Viswanathan immerses readers in the realities of the caste system from both sides; in telling a universal story of generational differences on a personal level, she makes a vanished world feel completely authentic. Superbly done.” —Booklist

“Marriage at 10, in 1896, then motherhood at 14 and four years later a widow’s white sari — these are the determining events in the life of a Brahmin girl called Sivakami, the main character in [this] ambitious first novel... Padma Viswanathan has real talent.” —The New York Times

Starred Review: “The portrait she paints is dazzling. Gender rules, class relations, and the political castes of late 19th- and early to mid-20th-century India are well presented, making this an important work of historical fiction. Highly recommended for all collections.” —Library Journal

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Marck L. Beggs Recap

In case you missed it (and aren't you sad if you did?), Marck L. Beggs launched our new year of readings in stellar style.  He rocked the house with both his music and his poems.

We set our new attendance record, surpassing the 130 mark for audience members.  Marck kept us all laughing and thinking and humming along, and the audience survey results show that nearly everyone found something to appreciate about the event. 

In addition to Marck's performance, we also gave away a half a dozen free books to lucky audience members.  That's right!  Free books!  If you attend our next event (novelist, Padma Viswanathan, Thursday, 25 October), you just might be a winner as well.  We offer books of modern & contemporary fiction and poetry, with a few books on the craft of writing thrown in for good measure. 

Many thanks to PTC's Tim Jones for taking photos!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Marck L. Beggs Tuesday 9/18

We are counting down the few short days until Marck L. Beggs arrives on campus to perform both poetry and song.  It should be a stellar event and we hope you can join us!

Who: Marck L. Beggs, poet & singer/songwriter
When: Tuesday, Sept. 18th at 6:00 p.m. (free and open to the public)
Where: Pulaski Technical College's North Little Rock campus, Campus Center (clock tower building), 2nd floor
What: A poetry reading and music performance, to include an audience Q & A and book signing (*books will be for sale, $10 each, cash or check)

See you all on Tuesday night!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Libido Cafe: Marck L. Beggs, 9/18/12 @ 6 p.m.

Marck L. Beggs will read poetry and perform songs at the Big Rock Reading Series on Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012 @ 6:00 p.m.

This reading will take place in the RJ Wills Lecture Hall on the 2nd floor of the Campus Center.  All events are free & open to the public.

More information can be found by clicking on this link.

Check out what Salmon Poetry has to say about Beggs' Libido Cafe

"Welcome to the Libido Café, where monkeys are welcome, the piano has been drinking, and the coffee is always perfect. In his second collection, Marck L. Beggs explores a wide range of poetic forms and subjects. From the formal structure of the sonnet to invented forms and linguistic experiments, from the vulgar to the salubrious, from the humorous to the offensive, the poet brings a new voice and a fresh sense of urgency to each poem. The result is a book which crosses genres and schools of poetry. Beggs's poems veer from the immediately accessible to the obscure; in a word: eclectic."  ~  from the Salmon Poetry website.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Marck L. Beggs, a Preview

Hello fans of the Big Rock Reading Series!

Marck L. Beggs will be reading and performing for us on Tuesday, Sept. 18 at 6:00 p.m.  Marck has been generous with us and agreed to share a bit of his poetry in advance of his reading.  Check out this fabulous poem and then show up on Tuesday the 18th to hear some more, along with some of Marck's music as well.

It was first discovered in a muddy shoebox
by a girl named Patsy in a field of wild poppies
in Northern California.  Patsy, and her friend Lulu,
strolled hand in hand along Cattail Creek,
crossing the field to pick me up
on the way to school.  That’s when
Patsy tripped over the box, and my heart
spilled out, staining her shoes.  According
to Lulu, she screamed in delight.

They carried it all the way to me that morning,
tossing it back and forth like a slippery ball.
I was very happy to have it back, especially
since I had been utterly unaware of its existence.
The next day, however, Patsy and Lulu
discovered some bad mushrooms
and were whisked off to the hospital
to get their stomachs pumped.
They never crossed that field again.


In junior high, beneath a late afternoon
fall of aurora borealis, Mary Zumwalt
gathered my heart into a specimen container.
I was in the library, diagramming sentences,
when she and her posse appeared at the window,
their voices lilting through the opaque winter air:
            Would you like to swing on a star?
            And carry Marck Beggs home in a jar?
I felt, at once, released and trapped,
and I responded with all the grace
and thoughtfulness of a stick.

Clearly, my tender brain concluded, the heart
exists outside of the individual, among alternative
laws of time and space, where any passersby
could simply reach out and poke it
or squeeze it.  And so I loaned it out
to all the inarticulate dolts populating the landscape
like spring mold.  I became their private Cyrano,
writing love-drenched missives to their beautiful girlfriends
who would never even learn my name.
But they knew my words and would recite them
to each other by their lockers between classes,
my heart passing between them
as easily as handshakes and stolen glances.


In college, I started hanging out with my brain
and all of its nefarious friends and influences:
alcohol, Eliot, coffee, bohemians, Kafka, peyote,
Zappa, sugar, politics, and computers.
Somewhere off in the shadows, my heart
stood by and watched as I fumbled through
a maze of women, their names a litany of brilliance, cruelty,
promises, and lies.  Through decades of neglect,
my heart never complained, never judged,
as my brain went on terrible rampages,
cutting through relationships like slave labor
in a rain forest, leaving behind burnt ruins
as my poor, sad heart wandered aimlessly to nowhere.


Sunday, August 5, 2012


Welcome to the Big Rock Reading Series at Pulaski Technical College.

The series began in September 2011.  We hosted six spectacular readings during the 2011 - 2012 academic year, and we are looking forward to six more readings for 2012 - 2013.

So far, our line-up includes the following.

Arkansas singer/songwriter & poet Marck Beggs (Tues, Sept 18, 6:00 p.m.)
There will be poetry and there will be song.
Rock on!

Arkansas novelist Padma Viswanathan (Thurs, Oct 25, 6:00 p.m.)
Viswanathan's debut novel The Toss of a Lemon traced three generations of a Brahmin family in southern India.  Come get a glimpse into that novel as well as several new projects.

University of Arkansas graduate students in creative writing Kathleen Heil and J. Camp Brown (Friday, Nov. 9, 10:00 a.m.)

All events take place in the RJ Wills Lecture Hall on the second floor of the Campus Center (Main Campus, NLR).  An audience Q & A will follow each reading, and when books are available, they will be for sale (cash or check) and authors willing to sign.  Each reading is free and open to the public.

For more information, email or call 501-812-2302.