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Poet, Painter and Musician T. Byron Kelly (born in Washington D.C.) has been working as an active performance artist in the South Western Virginia area for over two decades. Live, spontaneous lyric poetry performances and gallery exhibits have been at the heart of the Poet's work.

As an Undergraduate and Graduate student, Byron studied with poets Nikki Giovanni, Lucinda Roy, Grace Bauer and Anne Bromley, as well as novelist Don Secreast and painter Janet Niewald. Byron received private art instruction during that time and was also a member of Tri-M (Modern Music Masters honor society). Byron studied the relationships between poetry, painting and music and soon began to illustrate his own poems with paintings and put them to music as well. Byron has also taught creative writing and composition on the college level and is a member of the Blue Ridge Studio-Virginia, the Appalachian Writers Association (A.W.A.),the Appalachian Authors' Guild (A.A.G.), the XYZ Gallery (Blacksburg, VA.), the Jacksonville Center for the Arts (Floyd,VA.) and the Montgomery Museum and Lewis Miller Regional Art Center (Christiansburg, VA).

"I paint poems and found a kind of home there. My paintings have always been rather cartoon like and fantastically oriented, a rendering of a dream if you will- I always thought (about realist art) that if you wanted a photograph then why not take a snapshot with a camera?"

Interview with T. Byron Kelly

The idea of combining poetry with music and paintings is very interesting. How exactly do you display your poems with a piece of music or a painting?

My paintings are often illustrations of my poems and are framed and hung next one another in a gallery setting. Our band spectral arts has also performed music with the poems sung and spoken (much of it spontaneously) at many of my exhibits over the years. We also use a digital projector to display both paintings and poems during our shows.

Are you especially inspired by any other poets, past or present?

I am very much inspired by William Blake, Li Ho, Dante Alighieri, Mattie Stepanek, Maya Angelou, Rainer Maria Rilke, Robinson Jeffers, Kenneth Patchen, William Everson, Hermann Hesse, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Robert Bly, Boris Pasternak, Fredrico Garcia Lorca, E.A.Poe, Ekiwah Adler Belendez, John Milton, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Matsuo Basho.
                            
Do you ever write or paint while intoxicated?

I suppose I have written a few poems after a night out- I do try to keep pen and paper handy at all times. Painting is another story, it gets too messy and I usually end up having to start from scratch the next day. A long walk and some chamomile tea work wonder these days.

What type of books do you like to read in your spare time?

I read mostly poetry these days.

When you were little did you want to be a performing artist?

I had music classes as a kid and stayed involved in band and choirs until my college years. I did not realize I wanted to be an artist and teacher until I was on into college and graduate school. I remember being interested in law for a time (my Stepfather was a Lawyer) but ultimately found more imagination and freedom in art and literature.

If you had a book club, what would it be reading and why?

I have taught and tutored College English over the last few decades and like to explore both poetry and fiction in my classes and sessions. I guess my book club would be reading many of the poets on my earlier list. A poem can often say more in a few lines than an entire novel can hope to reveal.

If you listen to music while writing, what do you listen to?

That is a good question. I enjoy many genres of music- Patrick O’Hearne comes to mind right away. I am also very moved by the music of Alan Hovhaness.

What is the greatest challenge you have had to overcome in your career?

I recall the morning that the Columbine High School tragedy occurred, I was teaching a composition class and I said to myself (in front of my students) that it could never happen here. Several years later (in 2007) my school (Virginia Tech) was attacked. It was difficult to show back up on campus after that loss, but the spirit that I witnessed among the students and faculty to carry on was astounding and I will always remember. Working as an independent artist, poet and musician over the last 25 years has also been a challenge.

How much of your writing is based on things you see in real life?

I like to notice the ordinary-extraordinary things. Goethe, in ‘The Poet’s Year’ talks about making the reader observant of things which; “recur as ordinary and familiar”. Rodin’s advice to the Poet Rilke was to simply “regard and observe”.
 
My poetry, music and art have always been a place for me of supernatural communion between the divine and earthly realms. The liberation of the ordinary is finding the eternal in the moment now-there is a sacred space of connection which transcends time itself and is born through spontaneity and my work has been to attempt to bring forth this language of light. We are curious bystanders at the crossroads of conscious and unconscious thought. Imagination, then, is the child of the dream and the mind. Poetry is a state of Grace

Name a book that you'd blush to be seen reading on the bus.

I am not sure about blushing over a book ... but perhaps a supermarket tabloid ...



eBooks found: 2
New Selected Poems of T.Byron Kelly PDF (Adobe DRM) download by T. Byron Kelly
New Selected Poems of T.Byron Kelly
T. Byron Kelly
iUniverse.com, December 2009
ISBN: 9781440192685
Format: PDF
List Price: $6.00 Our price: $5.99
Project End Of Days PDF download by T. Byron Kelly
Project End Of Days
T. Byron Kelly
iUniverse, Inc., October 2005
ISBN: 9780595372805
Format: PDF
List Price: $6.00 Our price: $5.99
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