The Word is Out

Seventh Avenue bar proves convivial venue for sharing literature

Seasoned Poets of the Blue Ridge, l-r, Gwyneth Owens Noble, Helen Palmer, Elda Lepak. The monthly writers’ group is a combination of guest readers and an open mic. 
Photo by Rachel Pressley

Charlie Wilkinson believes everyone has words to share. 

That’s the idea, anyway, behind the collaborative event series he’s helped organize with Hendersonville’s Brandy Bar and the North Carolina Writers’ Network. His monthly events offer local writers, poets, and storytellers a chance to hone their craft, share their work, and socialize with their fellow artists. And it doesn’t matter if you’re already a name in lights — or are just now letting your words see the light of day.

Long an advocate for local writers, Wilkinson was approached by Brandy Bar’s Brenda Coates, who wanted to offer a low-pressure performance space for local wordsmiths at her newly renovated space in Hendersonville’s historic Seventh Avenue depot district. “In the Company of Writers” is uniquely collaborative, allowing participants to engage in spirited discussion with the audience, helped by live music and lively atmosphere. 

“We have taken the kernel of Brenda’s idea and have leaped beyond anyone’s expectations for what might be attempted or supported in our community,” proclaims Wilkinson. “This initiative is demonstrating the high quality of our local literature.” Hendersonville, he says, acknowledges and encourages the arts — and does so with an enthusiasm that needs to be recognized.

Mr. Jimmy adds music to the message.
Photo by Rachel Pressley

Recent programs have introduced local audiences to new and established talent, and, Wilkinson hopes, perhaps inspired aspiring writers to try their hand. 

“Look around when you are in your car, on Main Street, at the supermarket or the building-supply store,” he suggests. “These people are our neighbors, our family; they are among us, living what appear to be unremarkable lives, and they bring a richness to our community through their poetry, essays, and storytelling that reveals our very heart …  shows us what a special place we share.”

Next on stage at February’s event are two award-winning young poets, Emry Trantham and Andrew Clark, of Hendersonville and Alexander, respectively. Both, Wilkinson promises, are extraordinary. “And I don’t use that term loosely,” he says. “They each manage to be local and universal in the material and perspectives.”

“In the Company of Writers” takes place the second Wednesday of every month. The next one happens Wednesday, Feb. 12, 6:30pm at The Brandy Bar (504 7th Ave. East, Hendersonville, 828-513-1336, thebrandybar.com).

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