Discover the PRIVATE creative lives of others. Each month an all-star cast of improvisers welcomes one special guest to share art and insights. Their experiences inspired their work, now they inspire hilarious conversation and comedy. Join us for revealing stories, big laughs and grand adventures.

WHEN: 9PM FRIDAY, December 1 

WHERE: Monkey bottom 609 Trent Dr Durham, NC

SPECIAL GUEST: crystal simone smith, poet

“Smith's poems settle into you, like all good poetry should.” ~ Leah Maines


Field of Buttercups

—for Cameron

When the gray cloud revving
like a fine Italian race car let go,

I was just far enough away to get drenched
(a poorly planned evening walk).

In the haze of pounding rain
I clutched my new midsection,

all twenty weeks of you nestled inside,
and ran—leaping streets,

finally the driveway, inside
the relief of a still house.

Curious as to what the havoc looked like
without the gush and clatter,

I found the first window and saw not
the drear of the wet world,

but a field of buttercups stretched high,
reveling in every new drop.


*Published first in Nimrod: International Journal of Prose and Poetry, 2012

Wireless Circle

I’m eating a mango so fresh it tastes like the ocean, here
in the parking lot patio of Whole Foods people-watching
others eat their fruit. The piled dots of blueberries,
the tiny black dots that center the kiwi slice
the guy with the swirly tattoo across his forearm’s eating.
I remember the buzzing peel of the needle on my back,
each painful dot placed to form a here nor there dragonfly.
How we go round and round to make ourselves happy.
What was it Issa said of the dragonfly?
In someway or another he likes the evening too.
Everyone is texting, fixated on cups of hibiscus tea—
worlds apart, mere feet from one another, reading online
about the rare sunset expected to be visible by the naked eye.
I thought I knew once what we liked, but we don’t
need the bended palms and blue hues of Okinawa.
We got our dragon fruit imported, the tiny binocular dots
of Venus, Jupiter, and Mercury ready to form a triangle
in the sky above us, and all the loneliness we could ever want
right here in the wireless, Whole Foods parking lot


*Published first in Kakalak2014


NICK VANDENBERG |Music| Sept 2 2016

Nick Vandenberg is a multi-instrumenalist/composer and video producer based in Chapel Hill, NC. His music has been heard on the Nickelodeon Network, national radio promotions and in films at the Sundance Film Festival and La Biennale di Venezia and has created videos for clients including, the City of Lawrence, MA, and Behance. 

SEAMUS KENNEY |music| OCT 7 2016

Seamus Kenney is the founder of Durham’s Flash Chorus, a middle school music teacher, and the lead singer and songwriter of SNMNMNM, a band he toured the US extensively with from 2001 to 2007 and many of his songs, like “My Defense” and “Misfit Out of Time” can be found on Youtube, iTunes and Spotify.


Rapper, Singer, Songwriter, Producer, Promoter, Entrepreneur and Marine, “The Real Laww was born to entertain…” Winner of the 2013 Carolina Music Awards for Best Male Hip Hop Artist and 2012 Carolina Music Awards for Video of Year with “International Laww.” The Real Laww has been a force to be reckoned with in the NC Hip Hop scene.


Travis Smith lives in Durham, North Carolina, and works as a bookseller. A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Mississippi, his poems have appeared in Little Star, Crazyhorse, Redivider, and Parcel, among other journals. From 2011- 2015, he served as poetry editor of the online literary quarterly Wag’s Revue.
(* Circumstances prevented Travis from making a reschedule show. We read his poems anyway. They're great.)

HARDWORKER |Music| February 2017

Hardworker combines the songwriting of Sus Long, Michael Conner’s funk and punk influences, Danny Nowell’s affinity for rock and classic country, Dave Berka’s jazz-drumming background, and Alex Treyz’s Gospel choir training. They're here to turn all your melancholia into rock n' roll.


The music of XOXOK is conceived on the fretboard, cradled in headphones, and cultivated at the microphone. Often armed with just an electric guitar, XOXOK delivers a combination of soulful, smooth, and soft tunes laced with unabashed emotion.


Chris Tonelli works in the Libraries at NC State and co-owns So & So Books in downtown Raleigh, where he lives with his wife, Allison, and their two kids, Miles and Vera. He is a founding editor of the independent poetry press, Birds, LLC, and he curates the So & So Series and edits So & So Magazine. In addition to The Trees Around, he is the author of five chapbooks.


Rachel Kiel is a songwriter, singer, and multi-instrumentalist. Drawing on a wide range of musical influences and genres, she writes pop, grunge, country, and rock songs that owe an equal debt to Sonic Youth and Fleetwood Mac. She is currently in the studio completing recording for her third album.

jack the radio | MUSIC | june 2017

Formed in 2005 as a collaborative project between roommates, Jack the Radio is the brainchild of seasoned songwriters George Hage and A.C. Hill. The soulful blues stomp created by these garage twang rockers is a brilliant blend of styles smashed into one band. 

REAL DAD | MUSIC |July 2017

Real Dad makes sweet music!

breadfoot | MUSIC |August 2017

Breadfoot was spawn of the East River Delta. He digs his whiskey neat and his coffee black. He is a one-man band whose idiosyncratic take on life and wide range of influences from The Carter Family and The Sherman Brothers to Tom Waits and X, fuels his unique brand of Tin Pan Americana.

the birdhorse | MUSIC |october 2017

The Birdhorse is led by Kansas-born, North Carolina-based singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Toni Hartley and produced and co-performed by Bobby Funk. Birdhorse's music is like eavesdropping on the passionate and playful conversations of new lovers, from euphoric soul to contemplative folk. 

jeb brinkley | MUSIC |August 2017

Breadfoot was spawn of the East River Delta. He digs his whiskey neat and his coffee black. He is a one-man band whose idiosyncratic take on life and wide range of influences from The Carter Family and The Sherman Brothers to Tom Waits and X, fuels his unique brand of Tin Pan Americana.