Liminal: pertaining to; also spaces such as the threshold of a door. A place where boundaries dissolve. The Liminal alternative artspace at Community High School in downtown Roanoke not only presents the visual arts on its walls, there are also monthly readings featuring some of Roanoke’s best-known writers and journalists.
There are actually two readings this month, with one of them being a holdover from December. The Liminal: alternative artspace (its formal name) is located in the entrance foyer of the Community High School facility, located on the bottom floor of the Big Lick Junction building on Campbell Avenue. “The transition between two things,” explains Cara Modisett when talking about the word Liminal. Modisett is a writer, editor and concert pianist who also teaches at Community High School.
The first reading this month, on Tuesday, January 15 at 5:30 p.m., is Roanoke: Image, Conversation, Document. It entails writing that examines Roanoke through a range of perspectives including but not restricted to its history, geography, architecture and people.
The goal is a mix of pieces that reflect on the surrounding urban environment and community through a variety of lenses. The reading is being held in connection with a Roanoke Studies course at CHS, taught by Josh Chapman.
In the past, the monthly readings were designed to tie in with the art on exhibit in the Liminal gallery; this year they complement courses being taught at the private, liberal arts school. “Its not your typical high school curriculum,” noted Modisett, mentioning current courses on World War II, India, Homer and Dickens.
The goal of the readings has been to invite writers from all backgrounds, experience levels and genres, supporting each other as well. “The end result is hopefully a conversation about an idea, through poetry, essay and journalism,” said Modisett, who edited Blue Ridge Country magazine for Leisure Publishing before she left to pursue a master’s degree. The classically trained pianist has an out of town concert scheduled soon with soloist Judith Cline.
There have also been readings from new plays, with Liminal filling in perhaps for the departed Studio Roanoke, which used to host play readings. Film shorts (from local physician and movie maker Blake Lipscomb) are also being planned for the near future. University students and students alike have read at the monthly get-togethers.
“That was one of the biggest goals, to get more students [involved],” noted Modisett. Readers are restricted to six minutes at the podium. Last time out more than a dozen readers took part. Afterwards a small reception and conversation follows each reading.
The second reading this month is more of an open mic type event, to be held on Thursday, January 24 at 5:30 p.m. The next reading after that is scheduled for February 21. A session for March will focus on the natural environment. Modisett, who also teaches part time at Ferrum College, is trying to figure out how to turn more classes at CHS into reading themes for the Liminal events. Stay tuned. See more at https://www.facebook.com/notes/liminal-alternative-artspace/readings-at-liminal
By Gene Marrano