Nashville’s Second Saturday Open Mic Poetry Reading
Portland Brew East
1921 Eastland Avenue
Nashville, TN 37206
Sign-up at 5:30
Reading starts at 6:00
This month’s installment is guest hosted by Allison Boyd with a feature set from Chris Whitelaw.
November Feature Chris Whitelaw
My full name is Christopher Bryan Whitelaw. When I was a kid, I wanted to change my last name to my mother’s maiden name—Caspillo. I thought the fact it sounded ethnic was elegant and being Filipino, a people known for their hardwork and kind souls, was a sort of badge of honor for me growing up. Until I met my uncle.
I grew up on Long Island, NY. I have a lot of memories of New York. Many of them involve both physical and emotional pain at the hands of those who tried to raise a child, in the hopes he would be that which they never could. I started writing at 12, mostly painful caricatures of my favorite angry rock ‘n’ roll songs at the time. With more pain both at home and middle school came a style that reveled in the darkness of American suburban life. Poetry and punk rock—I owe those two artforms just as much credit as I do to God for keeping me alive. I always thought I would have been dead at 18. Anyways, after falling in love and making various terrible decisions which would shape the rest of my life, my parents sent me to live with our family in the Philippines. I learned many things there—that movies don’t do being stabbed any justice in terms of the intensity of pain involved, straight gin tastes amazing after the first 15 minutes of chasing it with water on an empty stomach, planting rice is hard and thankless work, just because you don’t always have the urge to enforce brutal violence on others doesn’t mean it doesn’t run in the family… but mostly, I learned that no matter how tough life can get, the human spirit is tougher.
Seven years later, I briefly lived in Jersey after graduating high school, a feat no one, not even my own parents thought possible. I then moved to Phoenix where I learned the joys of suppressing memories through narcotics. After four years of living in Phoenix and a decade of self-abuse, I moved to Nashville with the hopes of a new life. Three years into that wish, I am only now truly learning to live and enjoy it for the first time.
I have a lot of war stories, hundreds of battle scars all over my body to flaunt but I am here, I am alive and I am thankful that God never gave up on me. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to share my art and thank you for keeping the beautiful art of poetry and creative writing alive and well in Nashville. Much Love… ♡
November Guest Host Allison Boyd
Allison Boyd Justus lives in Rutherford County, where she works as a language arts teacher, college counselor, and service facilitator for intellectually gifted students. She’s writing more lesson plans and IEPs than poems these days, but her writing has appeared in electronic and print publications, including the Madcap Review, Eunoia Review, Quail Bell, and Calliope, and her manuscript Solstice to Solstice to Solstice was recently accepted for publication (2016-17) by Alternating Current Press. Allison is ever striving to keep her roles as writer and teacher from drifting too far apart and causing any kind of dreadful rupture of the spirit; recent measures to ensure successful integration of identity include participation in Poetry in the Brew, involvement with the Middle Tennessee Writing Project, intentional mentoring of students as writers, and the inception of the Middle Tennessee Writers’ Group, which meets in Murfreesboro the first Friday night of every month. Allison has found the literary community of Poetry in the Brew stimulating, encouraging, and challenging, and she is honored and delighted to host November’s gathering.