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0000017c-60f7-de77-ad7e-f3f73a140000WMUK's weekly show on the literary community in Southwest Michigan. Between The Lines previously aired on Fridays during Morning Edition and All Things Considered.

Between the Lines: The Underwater Typewriter

Jeff Haynes

Ann Arbor native Marc Zegans is better known for the spoken, rather than the written word. “As a spoken word artist with a penchant for immersive theater, I perform periodically with the New York Poetry Brothel under the nom de plume Bellocq C. Obscura,” Zegans says. “I’ve been doing spoken poetry as long as I can remember.”

But with his new poetry collection The Underwater Typewriter (Pelekinesis Press, September 2015), Zegans hopes to expand his written word readership. His spoken word albums include Night Work (2007) and Marker and Parker, recorded with jazz pianist Don Parker (2010). His collection of erotic senryu, a type of haiku, called Pillow Talk was published in 2008. Zegans is also a playwright and performs on stage.

“I was Narragansett Beer’s first Poet Laureate from 2010 to 2013 and a Poetry Whore with the New York Poetry Brothel,” Zegans says, laughing. “I had two friends in the New York Poetry Society who had grown tired of academic poetry readings and wanted something with greater depth than slam poetry.”

A conversation with poet and performer Marc Zegans

One of his poet friends thought about what she liked, then said, “Well, I love poetry, and I also like bourbon, and I like sex. How do I put them together?”

Zegans recalls, “So she came up with this idea of a 1920’s Prohibition bordello where rather than hire a prostitute, one would hire a poet for private readings. They brought it together as an immersive theatrical experience. Each poet is a character in costume with a back story, and there are all kinds of other characters populating the room—magicians, Tarot card readers, burlesque dancers, strange people with strange stories. It’s a chance for poets to read poetry to people one-to-one in a very intimate setting.”

Credit Pelekinesis Press

Zegans, who now lives in Santa Cruz, California, also works as a creative development advisor advising artists and writers as well as creatively-driven businesses, public agencies, foundations, and international organizations.

“I work with artists charting next steps, writers moving through blocks, creative organizations in transition, musicians seeking sustainable income, artists planning their creative legacies, business owners craving a more rewarding work life,” he says.

In his new collection, The Underwater Typewriter, Zegans says the poetry is about how people work through difficult problems with dignity. He takes on topics like betrayal and loss, human cruelty, “and how we bring that voice to the surface with love.”

Listen to WMUK's Between the Lines every Tuesday at 7:50 a.m., 11:55 a.m., and 4:20 p.m.

Zinta Aistars is our resident book expert. She started interviewing authors and artists for our Arts & More program in 2011.
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