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story.lead_photo.caption Looney

Mena poet and heavy metal drummer Jason Looney will be this week's featured poet for Wednesday Night Poetry at Kollective Coffee+Tea, 110 Central Ave.

The regular open mic session for all poets will begin at 6:30 p.m. Looney will begin at 7 p.m., followed by another round of open mic. Admission is free and open to all ages.

Born in Christianburg, Va., Looney was raised in northwest Arkansas and attended the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville where he received a bachelor's degree in History and English in 1999. Looney's wife, Mae, is from the Philippines and just celebrated passing her United States citizenship test. Together they live in Mena, where Looney works as a juvenile caseworker with a nonprofit organization that contracts with the state to help young people who have been in trouble with the law. He works on monitoring programs and helping juvenile parolees get an education. Poetry and music also play equally important roles in his life, a news release said.

He started writing poetry in the 10th grade. "I started writing in high school, around age 15, but it was at least five years before I started reading my work publicly. It really just began as an exercise to explore and organize my thoughts and feelings. It took a while to get comfortable sharing it with anyone else, much less an audience full of strangers. I had a lot of artistic friends at that time who encouraged me to read publicly and start honing my craft," he said in the release. This is Looney's third WNP feature.

Heavily influenced by Irish poets and American modernists, Looney writes a lot of narrative poetry infused with an allegorical tone and historical allusion. "His work is incredibly rich, and takes you to other worlds in your imagination," said Kai Coggin WNP host. Looney's favorite writers include W.B. Yeats, T.S. Eliot, Seamus Heaney, Wallace Stevens, and Dylan Thomas.

"I tackle subjects like loneliness and disconnection, longing, and regret. A lot of my work is heavy on philosophy. I like to explore questions of purpose and existence, and what drives the best and worst of human nature," he said.

For the past 30 years, Looney has played the drums in a number of heavy metal bands like Razor Fate, Staring Into Fire, and Platform Black. "I usually write the lyrics for my bands. Making music has always been an equal passion to writing for me," he said. He has played hundreds of live shows from audiences as small as 20 and as large as 1,000, in nightclubs and venues across Arkansas, eastern Oklahoma, and southern Missouri.

Looney has a published chapbook collection of poems, "The Playing Out of Consequences," which will be available Wednesday night. Chuck Dodson will guest host.

This week marks 1,589 consecutive Wednesdays of open mic poetry in downtown Hot Springs since Feb. 1, 1989. Email wednesdaynightpoetry@gmail.com for more information.

Entertainment on 07/09/2019

Print Headline: Mena poet, drummer to be featured at WNP

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