Tonight, 7:30 p.m., Thursday March 4.
What if poet Walt Whitman had been a video blogger, the New Yorker magazine wondered. The results, they surmised, might well resemble the work of Steve Roggenbuck.
Such comparison is apt. Like Whitman, Roggenbuck too finds inspiration in nature, minimalism and the raw, wonderful, aching human condition.
“There’s an intensity and an edge to his work, verging on violence, which is at once terrifying, hypnotic, and completely moving,” wrote Kenneth Goldsmith of Roggenbuck in the New Yorker.
Like Whitman, who self-published his first collection of poetry in 1885, Roggenbuck embraces a do-it-yourself spirit. His Boost House Press has published numerous collections, including one of Whitman’s work.
Over the course of multiple tours, often by Greyhound busses, Roggenbuck has given readings in each of the 50 United States and 10 countries. Through the use of social media Roggenbuck chronicles the oft-grueling travel conditions, turning the nuts and bolts of an artist’s life into art itself.
“Roggenbuck might be the first 21st-century poet,” wrote Jacob Brown in the New York Times T magazine. “The Internet’s staccato vernacular comes alive in his work, as does the vernacular of everyday life.”
While using the many new forms of communication available — Youtube, Twitter, etc. — Roggenbuck both leverages and skewers the internet’s apparent vacuity.
“The liveliness in Steve’s work is direct — deceptively so,” Don Share, the senior editor of Poetry Magazine told the NY Times Times T magazine. “You connect right away. But what he does is complicated. It’s disruptive. It bears rereading.”
The breadth of Roggenbuck’s output varies, from sardonic and humorous to helpful and heartfelt. A podcast regularly focuses on battling depression, and finding inspiration to continue the hardscrabble, up and down life of a working artist.
Across these diverse modern mediums — as well as traditional written poetry — the central themes of Roggenbuck’s work emerges: self realization, improvement and achieving harmony with the natural world. By openly addressing his own challenges, Roggenbuck beckons and reminds us to open the windows, to get of bed when we feel down, to strive for to be healthy and humane, to overcome doubt and fear, to realize our potential and to celebrate the majestic beauty of being alive on earth in this moment.
In other words: just like what reading Walt Whitman did for him.
Steve Roggenbuck gives a free reading Thursday, May 4, 7:30 p.m. @ Tolovana Hall in Cannon Beach. The event is produced by the Tolovana Arts Colony. Tolovana Hall is located at 3779 S. Hemlock St. For more information visit tolovanaartscolony.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 541-215-4445.
Steve will be joined by Travis Champ, of Nehalem, who just released his own book of poetry.