Local Poet Fest set for Saturday, Aug. 18 at Nightbird Books

Event poster for Local Poet Fest


Eight local poets. One night. One thousand dollars.

That last part isn’t true, but the part about the eight local poets is, and it’s happening at Nightbird Books this Saturday, Aug. 18. The event is called Local Poets Fest, and it’s presented by the folks behind local literary event series, The Burning Chair Readings.

Poets Rodney Wilhite, E. Milton Vaught, Geoff Oelsner, Roger Barrett, Willi Goehring, Catherine Hotaling-Donnelly, Katie Nichol, and Jessica Weisenfels are scheduled to read from their work at the event.

The event is free to attend, but a $3 donation, or a donation of silverware, a coffee mug, or a wine glass are suggested to help stock the cabinets of the new Nightbird Cafe.

For more information, read bios provided by the participating poets below, or check out the Facebook page for the event.

Poet bios from the Facebook Event

Roger Barrett
Roger Barrett self published eight issues of the zine Arm Chair Water Boy before they were doomed to the infoshops of imagination. You can find his other zones — Love God and You are Dead, For Victoria Forgetting, and We’re More River Piss than Grounded Kid by asking someone in their 20s to ask someone in their 30s. Random poems appear in Art Amiss chapbooks here and there. A failed stand-up comedian, a lousy hitchhiker, a regular college dropout, and a singer in the unsuccessful punk rock bands Kings of New England, Blood Eagle, The Counterlife, and currently in Escapists, there are so many things that he can’t do.

Willi Goehring
Willi Goehring was born and raised in Wichita, Kansas, but spent the last ten years in Western Illinois before moving to Arkansas. He received a BA at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois and is in pursuit of an MFA in poetry at the U of A. In addition to writing poems, he likes to sing when he can.

Catherine Hotaling-Donnelly
Catherine Hotaling-Donnelly is a non-traditional student of English/Creative Writing about to graduate from the University of Arkansas and has had numerous articles and columns published in the Ozark Gazette, The White River Valley News, The Northwest Arkansas Times and the Fayetteville Free Weekly. She has been on the board or has held offices in community groups such as Poets Northwest and The Ozark Poets & Writers Collective. Donnelly has won numerous poetry and writing contests and has had her poetry published in the Lamplighter Review and @Urban Magazine. She has lived on both coasts before getting landlocked in Arkansas. She currently lives in a Civil War farmhouse on four acres with her husband and sons, two cats, a pug and twenty-nine chickens.

Katie Nichol
Katie Nichol is a fourth-year student in the MFA program at the University of Arkansas. She really likes to bake cakes.

Geoffrey Oelsner
Geoffrey Oelsner is a poet, a singer/songwriter, and a psychotherapist. He has lived in Fayetteville in the Ozarks bioregion since 1979. His wife, Leslie Berman Oelsner, is also his musical partner. Native Joy: Poems Songs Visions Dreams is Oelsner’s first full-length book of poems. He presents his poetry and original songs in not-for-profit benefit performances, accompanied by harmonium, dulcimer, autoharp, guitar, and banjo.

E. Milton Vaught
Arkansas-born-and-raised E. Milton Vaught has accepted that after living in Fayetteville for the past 16 years, she is now a “local.” She is currently pursuing her second degree in English/Creative Writing at the University of Arkansas. Most of the time, she feels as though she is living On the Grid.

Jessica Weisenfels
Jessica Weisenfels is a poet of necessity. She provides shelter to outcasts and animals while mothering two daughters and a neighborhood of other people’s children and pursuing an English degree and affordable health care.

Rodney Wilhite
Rodney Wilhite is originally from Oklahoma and is an MFA candidate at University of Arkansas.

Burning Chair Readings
The Burning Chair Readings, founded by Katy and Matthew Henriksen in New York City in 2004, have organized regular and special literary events in several cities and now call Nightbird Books and Fayetteville home. Look for future monthly readings at Nightbird Books that will bring some of the most exciting emerging poets to share their work here in Fayetteville.