Poetry & Celtic Music at McIntyre’s Books

Come to McIntyre’s Books for a reading by three outstanding local poets and enjoy live Celtic music and dance. This year’s kickoff reading sponsored by the North Carolina Poetry Society is sure to be 2015’s most lively literary event.

January 25, 2015 at 1:45pm


David_ManningDavid Manning

David Manning is the author of eight books of poetry. Twice nominated for the Pushcart prize, he is also a three time winner of the NC Poetry Society’s Poet Laureate award. David will be reading from his just-released book “Soledad.” NC Poet Laureate Joseph Bathanti says, “Manning recognizes each signpost on the plat, claims it, christens it, forgets nothing.” Listeners are fortunate to hear from one of North Carolina’s finest writers.

Alice_OsbornAlice Osborn

Alice Osborn is a Pushcart-nominated poet, editor-for-hire, writing coach and dynamic speaker/facilitator. She’ll be reading from her forthcoming collection “Heroes Without Capes.” These poems about the personal lives of famous and infamous figures from history, including Boba Fett, the Virgin Mary, and the Roadrunner, are sure to delight. Alice is the author of “After the Steaming Stops” and “Unfinished Projects.” She’s also the editor of the short fiction anthology “Tatoos” from Main Street Rag. Alice is an avid Irish step dancer and might be cajoled into kicking her heals if the audience is enthusiastic enough.

tyler_headshot_colorTyler Johnson

Tyler Johnson is an author, poet, and musician whose work revolves around traditional music and dance. Tyler will be reading from his just-released collection “Dancing the Haw,” which features poems set along the Haw River. His other books include “Tales from the Red Book of Tunes (fiction),” and “The Swamps that Close (poetry).” When not writing, Tyler can often be found playing Irish music for contra dances.

Haw BurnHaw Burn

Haw Burn plays traditional celtic dance music. Featuring Jon Amos on fiddle, Jen Hamel on guitar, and Tyler Johnson on tenor banjo, this trio is certain to get your toes tapping.


Click here for a map to the bookstore.

Conversations Among Ruins

CAR_coverI’ve just finished reading Matthew Peter’s new work of fiction, Conversations Among Ruins, that tells the story of Daniel Stavros’ struggle with the dual diagnosis of alcoholism and depression. Stavros is a university literature professor whose tenure track job, and entire life, precariously teeters between success and despair for much of the book, as he careens from one bad decision to another.

You can’t help but root for Stavros. More than once I found myself shouting, “No, Daniel. Don’t do it!” as he is called by darker angels away from a path that would lead him toward a happy future that is so tantalizingly available to him.

He is almost saved by a tender, but deeply wrong, relationship with a charming young woman whose own angels tear at her. Colleagues attempt to support him, at least those who haven’t given up. But the one-two punch of the dual diagnosis proves a very tough adversary. In an ending that is reminiscent of the writings of George MacDonald, Stavros comes face to face with the reality he has created.

The title is taken from the Sylvia Plath poem, Conversations Among the Ruins, and the allusions to that work, and Plath’s own struggles, are not lost in the text. The careful reader will find numerous interconnections among the various parts of this narrative. Peters plays rough with language, and his prose is muscular but accessible. This is an excellent read on its own, but is sure to strike a somber chord with those whose lives have been touched by the dark spirits of substance abuse and depression.

Down East Girl

Down East Girl CoverJulie Davis has just released Down East Girl, a lovely book about coming of age in eastern North Carolina.

The story follows Lily McIntyre, a precocious girl whose family is rumoured to be descended from pirates. Lily delights in this swashbuckling family legend and we are carried along on her girlhood adventures on Harkers Island. Although Lily is bound to the sea, her intellectual nature and the coming of World War II pull her inland toward Beaufort and Chapel Hill, where her life grows more complex as she reaches adulthood.

This is a beautifully rendered story of life on North Carolina’s Outer Banks. It portrays an honest and sometimes difficult struggle of the people of Harkers Island’s fishing villages as they realize that their way of life is passing into the mists and a modern world is emerging around them.

This book is rich with the local dialects and aphorisms of the island, thoroughly researched by Davis. While the book is painted in golden hues, the language brings shocks of color that truly delight.  Each chapter is its own very satisfying story, making it a pleasure to come to. In style and tone it is reminiscent of Laura Ingalls Wilder or James Herriot, though with more adult themes from time to time.

The story arc is gentle and the camera stays up close throughout, but don’t be surprised to find humor and history among the seashells.

5 stars.

The Brothers’ Keepers

brothers_coverMatthew Peters has just released “The Brothers’ Keepers,” the first book in the Nicholas Branson series of thrillers.

“The Brothers’ Keepers” is fiction of the highest order. This thriller keeps the suspense on eleven, but only gets started there. Nick Branson is a scholarly Jesuit who packs a mean left hook. Together with the intriguing librarian Jessica Jones, we are treated to a behind-the-robes look at the forces of the Christian church and their sway on western society. But there’s little time for quiet reflection as we are whisked from Washington, DC to France to Afghanistan in a chase to discover a secret that some labored for centuries to ensure would never be found. This book overflows with political intrigue, action, and the best prose to come along in years.

“The Brothers’ Keepers” held me in suspense through to the last page. That in and of itself makes it a worthwhile read. But the historical bombshell it exposes, and the questions it poses, have sent me time and again to investigate the details presented in the story. The fact that it is so well researched leaves one wondering just what sort of foundations we stand upon.

Hopefully there is someone like Nicholas Branson looking out for us.

5 stars

Musical Fantasy Giveaway

Tales from the Red Book of Tunes is a musical fantasy filled with dancing, fiddle tunes, bagpipes, murderous myths and monsters. Set in the mythical world of Hollean, it traces the development of ten fiddle tunes from their folk origins to modern times, and gives you a glimpse of the lives they’ve touched along the way.

We are giving away twenty copies of Tales from the Red Book of Tunes on the book review and sharing site Goodreads. Get your copy today.

These interwoven tales are for anyone with a love of music and dance. But there’s a bonus for musicians and dancers. Go to the book website to listen to the tunes, print sheet music, and see how people are writing new dances to these tunes!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Tales from the Red Book of Tunes by Tyler  Johnson

Tales from the Red Book of Tunes

by Tyler Johnson

Giveaway ends September 04, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

View the book trailer

Join me at the Haw River Ballroom

Haw River

Dear Friends,

I’ll be the featured author at Writer’s Night at the Haw River Ballroom on Thursday, April 3, 2014 at 7pm. I’ll be reading from Tales from the Red Book of Tunes. I’ll bring my mandolin and play a few tunes from the book as well. Trish Hornick will join me on the fiddle.

The reading will happen at Cup 22, which is the cafe that overlooks the ballroom. It’s a lovely space if you’ve not yet seen it.

Join Me for Dinner at the Eddy

I’m planning on having dinner at the Eddy at 6pm before the reading. I would be delighted if folks would join me. The Eddy is a terrific restaurant and bar and is, quite simply, the happening place in the Triangle. It’s adjacent to the Haw River Ballroom. Please let me know if you plan to join me for dinner so I can give the manager an estimated head count.

Open Mic

After my reading there will be an open mic for poets and authors. So if you’ve something to share please bring it.

Directions and Links

  • The Haw River Ballroom is located at 1711 Saxapahaw-Bethlehem Church Rd., Saxaphahaw, NC 27340 (336.525.2314).
  • Cup 22 is on the second floor of the ballroom.
  • The Eddy Pub is located at 1715 Saxapahaw-Bethlehem Church Rd., Saxapahaw, NC  27340 (336.525.2010).

About Writer’s Night at the Haw River Ballroom

Writer’s Night, held on the first Thursday of each month, is a celebration of the written word. Local authors, established and emerging, read from their fiction, poetry or nonfiction and answer questions about their craft in the intimate setting of Haw River Ballroom’s 2nd floor coffee shop, Cup 22.  Following the reading is an open mic session for any writers who would like to share their work.  Past featured authors include Celissa Steele, Ricky Garni, Nancy Peacock, Daniel Wallace, Jonathan Farmer, Lyle Estill, Bianca Diaz, and Chuck Ball.  Event starts at 7 pm and ends at 9 pm.

Mini Concert

WRAL - Tyler and Bill

I sat down with Bill Leslie of WRAL to talk about traditional music and play a few tunes from my latest book. Alison and Gordon Arnold from Rip the Calico played along in the studio in Raleigh, NC. Bill Leslie is a terrific musician in his own right. He has a particular love of Scottish music and works with some high caliber musicians. Take a listen over at Bill’s website. A special thanks are due to Dan Gilvary for helping with this event. Dan is another wonderful musician and extraordinary humanitarian.

WRAL - Gordon WRAL - Alison






 Enjoy the music!


What I Learned from the Elves

When my sons were young I used to tell them stories on the drive to school. They especially liked to hear great adventures, and our tales quickly grew in complexity to include the more elaborate plots of Camelot and Robin Hood. I don’t know how it happened, but I found myself starting to tell them the story of The Lord of the Rings.

As a writer, I get asked about Tolkien a lot, especially since some of my stories include an element of myth. People want to know if I think he was a great writer. Well, he certainly taught me a lot. Especially on those drives to school. My mornings went something like this:

Son 1: Tell us more Lord of the Rings, Dad.

Me: Hmm. Let’s see… where did we leave off?

Son 2: Frodo was at the Inn at Bree.

Son 1: The Prancing Pony.

Son 2: Yeah. There’s some guy sitting and watching him. He’s got his face covered up.

Son 1: I think it’s one of those black rider people.

Son 2: It’s not. Because there would be worms and stuff crawling out of the walls and there are no worms.

Son 1: Well, it’s somebody bad. Tell us, Dad. What happened?

I was astonished at the detail with which they could recount this story. And so on we went, day after day, week after week, much like the hobbits themselves, on our great adventure. I was, of course, always careful to leave them with a cliff hanger right before dropping them off at school.

All of this caused me to reflect on Tolkien himself and why my sons held such a fervor around this story. Was Tolkien a skilled writer? I would have to say not. His prose is not beautiful or elegant. But he crafted a great story. How do I know? Because I was enthralled with the story in the same way my sons were. But they had never read Tolkien. They had only heard me re-telling his story.

Re-telling is not common in contemporary literature. People tend to think of the story and the book as the same thing. They are not.

The separation of a story and its telling is clearer to me when I think about music. I play a lot of traditional tunes from the British Isles. These wonderful tunes are hundreds of years old, and have been rendered by many musicians over time. For example, “The Wind that Shakes the Barley” is a tune that can be played lyrically, or very driving. It can be played simply, or be quite ornamented. It’s a wonderful tune whether it’s rendered by a beginner on the guitar or a master on the fiddle. The tune is separate from its rendering.

This is a useful thing to consider when writing. Of course you want polished prose. Perhaps even gilded prose. But ask yourself if the story will hold up when told and re-told by others who are not as skillful at the telling.

After all, the elves were great story tellers and players of song.

And we’re still talking about them.

How to Stop Being a Serious Poet

Local Poets Struggle to Recover from Difficult Childhoods

Do you suffer from poetry? Try my recipe for recovery. Alice Osborn is a terrific poet, editor, and writing coach in Raleigh, NC. She invited me to write a guest post on her blog, Write from the Inside Out, to discuss this diagnosis.

I would like to hear from folks. What are your favorite ways to lively up those dreary readings?

You can read the post on Alice’s Write from the Inside Out page.

Contra Dance & Book Release Party

book releaseTales from the Red Book of Tunes

Calling by Louie Cromartie

Music by Rip the Calico

Location: Pleasant Green Community Center

Date: March 23, 2014

Dance: 7-10pm

Beginner Lesson: 6:30pm

Admission: $10

Come celebrate the release of Tales from the Red Book of Tunes, the new book by author Tyler Johnson that takes you from a modern contra dance back to the murky myths where the music was born.

There will be a mini-concert featuring tunes from the book! Joining Rip the Calico will be special guest fiddlers Trish Hornick and Mairead Brady.

You can purchase the book online at Tyler Johnson’s Bookshop. Or pick up a copy at the dance.

  • Paperback: $15
  • Hardback: $25
  • e-Books from Kindle/Nook/Kobo/Apple stores


A note to non-dancers: This event is structured to allow participation from folks that are not regular dancers during the early part of the evening. You will be able to enjoy a concert and reading. You’ll be able to watch experienced dancers and have a try at it yourself. You are strongly encouraged to come to the beginner lesson at 6:30 because this will give you some important background information about contra dancing. It will help you understand the book. And it could just possibly save your life.

Please download and print the flyer and distribute at your local dance event!

Directions to Pleasant Green Community Center

The address is Pleasant Green Community Center Rd, Durham, NC 27705

Pleasant Green

From points north and east: Take I-85 through Durham to exit 173, Cole Mill Road. Take Cole Mill Road to the end at Pleasant Green Road, turn right, then make the next right onto Pleasant Green Community Center Road, the Center is 1/4 mile on the left.

From points west and south: Take I-85 to exit 170. Get in the left lane as exiting, and take a sharp left onto US 70 west. Follow the first traffic light. Turn right here onto Pleasant Green Road. Follow 2.4 miles and turn right on Pleasant Green Community Center Road. The community center is 1/4 mile on the left.

From Durham: Take Cole Mill Road to the end at Pleasant Green Road, turn right, then make the next right onto Pleasant Green Community Center Road, the Center is 1/4 mile on the left.

From Chapel Hill: Take NC 86 north, go to Mt. Sinai Road and turn right, follow to University Station Road, turn left, follow to US 70, turn right, turn left at first traffic light, Pleasant Green Road, follow about 2.4 miles to Pleasant Green Community Center Road, turn right, the Center is 1/4 mile on the left.

From Raleigh: Take NC 147 (Durham Expressway) when aproachng Durham. Follow through Durham and rejoin I-85 south. Follow to exit 170. Continue to light. Turn right, this is Pleasant Green Road. Follow about 2.4 miles to Pleasant Green Community Center Road, turn right, the Center is 1/4 mile on the left.