In 2001, local poet, playwright, teacher and activist Christine Lassiter died from cancer. Ten years after her death, the community she helped to form held a memorial reading of her poetry, “Christine Lassiter Tribute: 49 Poems for each Year of her Life,” at Malaprop’s Bookstore and Cafe. The event was also something of a reunion of Asheville luminaries from a period often overlooked, the era of the mid-1980s to the late 1990s, when the downtown creative community seemed to be centered on only a few locations. As local poet Laura Hope-Gill wrote …
Imagine an Asheville without fifty restaurants. Imagine it with maybe ten: Uptown Cafe, Pastabilities, The Flying Frog, Magnolia’s, Latin Quarter, a few more. Imagine it without storefronts: cover the glass display windows with plywood, or leave the glass exposed and broken. Walk through this imagined city on a Sunday and find that the only available meal after 2 p.m. is a bagel from Malaprops, which is in the space where Sensibilities is, and the cafe is in the basement. It’s the only place with an espresso machine on this side of town. In this city, in the early 1990s there is a dearth of everything. Everything, that is, except poetry, dance, performance art, theater and music. And at the core of the artistic crab apple that Asheville was in those days, there is one place that is so steeped in poetry, in the voice of the poets and in the passionate listening of the audience, it is mythological: The Green Door.
The Lassiter tribute was very much a reunion of the personalities and people from that era. Below, Xpress presents a sample of these local performers reading Lassiter’s works from the event.
Annie Lalley and Joe Ebel perform “Deep As Hurt Can Breathe”
Allan Wolf reads “Christmas Trees in the Dark Memory of Morning”
Bill Melanson reads “Collect Call”
Emoke B’racz reads “Art Opening”
Howard Hanger readers “Unquantifiable Blueberries”