Remembering Map… Founding Poet of the Brew

Michael Alan Pierce (Map…) was a poet, author, and beloved figure in the community. He passed October 22, 2021, and we dedicated Saturday’s online reading to Map…, honored by his son Tim Pierce’s presence.

Ten years ago, Map… founded Poetry in the Brew after returning to Nashville to find the venues lacking. At a 2011 memorial tribute to Beatlick Joe Speer, veteran poets agreed to search for a new place. Map… secured Portland Brew East on the 2nd Saturday of the month, the same night as the former Bean Central event. He enlisted the help of fellow poets to build a home for spoken word in Nashville.

Raised in Anderson, IN, Map… first moved to TN during high school, the summer following a news writing class where he got by covering sports. In northern TN, Map… spent his junior year playing basketball and met his high school girlfriend who became his first wife. He went back and forth from IN to TN once more, then settled in TN for a better job, but all he wanted to do was party. Map… and his first wife were partners in life and drugs. They had three sons starting in 1979, and an explosive dynamic fed by hardship.

He and his wife separated and he landed in jail. Map… turned to writing, first his feelings in an attempt to win her back, then stories in a jailhouse Christian magazine, Beside Still Waters. For his second wife, he wrote a lyric which surprised everyone. Map… shared that lyric with his third wife, and she told him he could do anything. All he wanted to do was write her a poem. This was his baptism in poetry.

When she left, he poured himself into the writing. A year later, Map… found refuge by accepting an invite to a poetry reading. Despite a shaky start on the mic, he got a warm reception and went back. He wrote and published titles including Jailhouse Poet, Soul Searching for a Poetic License, and 4ward Progress. He also went in and out of alcohol and drug treatment programs and trouble with the law before going to prison. The poets didn’t know where he went and Map… served about 4 years on a 16 year sentence, out on parole.

While in prison, he taught a workshop where the inmates blew him away with what they wrote. During 2004, Map… himself wrote 1700 poems. From a halfway house in Knoxville to a fresh take on Nashville beginning in 2006, Map… walked the path of recovery. He relied on friends, notably among them Laurel McManus, and poetry readings such as the one at Kijiji, until it closed. Once Poetry in the Brew was established, Map… released two more poetry collections, Praying Poems and Surrender. Eleven years of parole brought many emotions. When that period drew to a close, Map… continued striving to find the right and meaningful feeling in his writing.

A teacher and mentor to all who asked it of him, Map… learned the value of both language and community while in prison, and helped inspire and motivate poets and friends anywhere he went. We cherish his contributions and pivotal role in Poetry in the Brew. Our hearts are with his loved ones. May his memory be a blessing.

Map… was dedicated to the issues people who are unhoused face, and often organized drives to draw attention and support for this cause. This Friday, consider attending and donating to Poetry for the People: A Charity Poetry Night 2. Please visit the event page for the details.

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