Birmingham: A City Rich in Stories

May 15, 2018


Muriel Rukeyser


InSpero's Fourth Annual Magic City Storytellers is just a month away on Thursday, June 14. Appetizers, wine and beer will be served on the beautiful porch of the Clubhouse on Highland from 6-7. Performances 7-9 pm with an intermission with homemade desserts and coffee from The Neighborhood Brew. Seating is limited. Link here for tickets.

We've got an amazing line-up singer/songwriters, fiction writers, and poets living in Birmingham. They include:

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Wilder Adkins’ songwriting gleans as much from the poetry of Wendell Berry and Mary Oliver as it does from folk luminaries Richard Thompson and Bruce Cockburn. Adkins won the 2016 NewSong Music Performance & Songwriting Competition and has performed at the Lincoln Center and the Kennedy Center and shared the stage with notable acts such as Josh Garrels and Peter Bradley Adams.  

Photo by Ryan Russell
Photo by Ryan Russell

Nathan Peek is a singer/songwriter whose distinct sound and stage persona has captivated audiences at venues throughout the country. Born in Birmingham, Nathan was raised on his parents’ appreciation for 60’s era rock n’ roll and folk. With the Nathan Peek Band, he releases four full length compilations Stale Wine, Loose Ends, & Porcelain Hearts and Sore Thumbs. Nathan has had his hand in forming other bands such as the rock/pop six-piece Kids Your Age which released the LP Big Whoop in 2013. He's about to release a new compilation with the rock band Long Bony Arms.


Kristen Iskandrian's debut novel Motherest was long-listed for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, named a Best Book of 2017 by Publishers Weekly and Lenny, and called a "defining book of 2017" by The Wall Street Journal. Her short stories have appeared or are forthcoming in Tin House, Ploughshares, McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, Zyzzyva, The O. Henry Prize Stories 2014, The Best American Short Stories 2018, and many other publications.

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Russell Hehn is a copywriter, regular writer, and gardener from Birmingham where he lives with his wife Katherine Anne, their two-year-old Isaac Thornell, and their dog Poppy. Russell's work has appeared in McSweeney's, The Barcelona Review, LimeHawk, and in lawns and landscapes around Crestwood and Avondale. His current overambitious project is The New Toy Prototype Review with Grover Kwattle, a podcast featuring a retired spy gadget inventor who reviews hazardously over-designed kids toys. In his off time, he is the owner and operator of Red’s Electric Lawn Care, Birmingham’s first and only all-electric lawn service.

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Salaam Green is a poet, writer, award-winning author and master healer. Born and bred in the Black Belt of Alabama, some of her “hats” include: Rural Organizer Leader, Human Rights and United Nations Panelist, Southern Essayist/Freelance Writer and Poet, founder of Literary Healing Arts and Red Couch Writers, University of Alabama at Birmingham Arts in Medicine Artist in Resident for Creative Writing and Poetry and a Deep South Storyteller for Creatively Aging, 2016 Poet Laureate for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and 2018 Tedx Birmingham Speaker. She blogs at


María Vargas is a Nicaraguan poet, narrator, and translator who lives in Birmingham. She graduated from UAB with a BA in English and a BA in Philosophy, and from The University of Alabama with a PhD in Latin American Literature. Her work has appeared in anthologies published in England, Argentina, USA and Nicaragua. In 2010, she won a Hackney Literary Award and in 2004, her book, Los ojos abiertos del silencio (The Open Eyes of Silence) won the Rafaela Contreras Prize for Central American Women Writers.



InSpero spent a night dreaming about Birmingham's future and seeking to understand the wounds of its past and the fruits/frustrations of the calling to be a prophet through the arts or through the church.  The pastors who came this year included Arthur Price of Sixteenth Street Baptist, Doug Ferguson of Mountaintop Community Church, Don Sellers of South Park Baptist, and Gary Purdy of City Church Midtown. Artists included glass blower/woodworker Micah Simpson,  jewelry designer/interior designer Lucy Farmer, drummer Jesse Suttle, photograher/cancer advocate Marty Balencie, author Marjean Brooks, and photographer Charity Ponter. Bob McKenna of The Clubhouse on Highland joined in the conversation and Mac Russell of Shindigs Catering provided a "foretaste" of heaven feast. Photos by Pete Collins.

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