Rock Dove

My guest on this episode is Grammy-nominated multimedia producer, curator, consultant, educator and public speaker Jocelyn Arem, also a Brooklyn-based music artist under the name Rabasi Joss.

Jocelyn’s production company Arbo Radiko specializes in archival storytelling, curating archives for Caffe Lena, the Erroll Garner Estate, the Rozanne Gold Culinary Estate, and partnering with the New York Times, the Library of Congress, the Grammy Foundation, Sony Legacy, powerHouse Books, BRIC Arts Media and the New Orleans Jazz Festival.

Jocelyn's current project, Poetiv, is a new app dedicated to the art of spoken word. Poetiv officially launches to the public this week at the National Poetry Slam in Chicago. With the launch also comes a contest for up to $10,000 and an all expenses paid-trip to attend this year’s Individual World Poetry Slam event in San Diego, CA. On Poetiv, spoken word posts receive digital snaps from listeners, just as if it were a live performance. The poet whose spoken word post receives the most digital snaps by September 30th wins the prize. Poets maintain all copyright to their work.

Poetiv app for iPhone - https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/poetiv/id1364966808?mt=8

Rabasi Joss website - https://www.rabasijoss.com/

I'm hosting two Online Songwriting Retreats the next two weekends, August 17-19 and 24-26. Learn more and sign up at http://onlinesongwritingretreat.com/

My band plays every Wednesday 7-10pm, including tonight, at The Kraken, a little roadhouse outside Chapel Hill, NC. Join us for a great songs and a good time.

Thank you for listening! Leave us a review and share the podcast. Your fan,


 Rabasi Joss

Rabasi Joss



Sugar Mama

This week, I interview Iraqi-Canadian songwriter Noosa al-Sarraj, known by her "honky-tonk name" Winona Wilde. We talk about family dynamics around art, the politics of personal power, and the difference between crossing the Canadian border going south or north. Noosa is coming from Peterborough, Ontario to be our special guest this week at The Kraken, a little roadhouse outside Chapel Hill, North Carolina. We play every week at The Kraken from 7 to 10pm.

You can find Noosa as Winona Wilde and her cutting songwriting at




Thanks for listening! Your fan,


Noosa al-Sarraj.jpg



Over the Plain Houses

Today, I share an interview with Julia Franks, author of Over the Plain Houses, a novel that NPR calls "A spellbinding story of witchcraft and disobedience." Over the Plain Houses is an NPR Book of the Year, Winner of the 2016 Southern Book Prize, winner of the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award 2017, and more. Julia Franks lives in Atlanta, where she runs loosecanon.com, a web service that fosters free-choice reading in the classroom.

Learn more about Julia at http://www.juliafranks.com/ and more about Loose Canon at https://loosecanon.com/

We’ll end this show with a song I wrote inspired by Over The Plain Houses for a project by Shari Smith called Trio, which includes a book, a song, and a work of visual art. You can find out more about Shari Smith and her Trio project at shari-smith.com/ 

Julia opens her novel with "Her Kind" by Anne Sexton. Read "Her Kind" on poets.org: https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/her-kind

Come to a live show! My band is playing this week, and every Wednesday at 7pm, at The Kraken, a little roadhouse outside of Chapel Hill, North Carolina. My special guest this week will be writer, vocalist, and producer Martha Bassett.

Thursday, April 5th, we're excited to play my birthplace, Fayetteville North Carolina, at The Cameo Arthouse Theater. It's at 225 Hay St, Fayetteville, NC. Buy tickets here. Get more info at www.cameoarthouse.com or call (910)486-6633.

April 21 SAT / Isis Music Hall / Asheville NC / buy tickets

April 22 SUN / Bear on the Square / Dahlonega GA / mainstage schedule

Thanks for listening. Your fan,



Dying to Go to Heaven

I’ve been told I’m not my own.
Who will have me when I’m old?
All my choices turn to scars.   
Aren’t they mine? Aren’t they mine?

I’m not dying to go to heaven.
Is it wild up there?
If these bones have a creator,
don’t you think He made a lifetime
just long enough to bear?

A man will learn. A woman knows.
We’re no higher than the stones.
All this life comes from the dust.
Ain’t that divine? Ain’t that divine?

I’m not dying to go to heaven.
Is it wild up there?
If these bones have a creator,
don’t you think He made a lifetime
just long enough to bear?

You’re not God. You’re not lost.
You have choices. There’s a cost.
You’ve got questions on your mind.
Take your time. Take your time.

I’m not dying to go to heaven.
Is it wild up there?
If these bones have a creator,
don’t you think He made a lifetime
just long enough to bear?

all rights reserved, Jonathan Byrd Music SESAC



Do Something

Thanks to Kyshona Armstrong for joining us this week. Kyshona has toured with us and will be sitting in Wednesday night at a little roadhouse outside Chapel Hill, North Carolina called The Kraken. On this podcast, we listen to her music, including a sneak peek at her upcoming single, and talk about what’s next for Kyshona.


Kyshona’s website - kyshona.com

Kyshona’s bandcamp page, where you can get some music right now! - kyshona.bandcamp.com

Hiroya Tsukamoto, a New York artist whom Kyshona played with last night at The Rooster’s Wife in Aberdeen NC - http://www.hiroyatsukamoto.com

Jenn Bostic, Kyshona’s friend and frequent co-writer - http://jennbostic.com

Jordan Hamlin, musician and producer who is recording Kyshona’s upcoming project - https://jordanbrookehamlin.tumblr.com

The Kraken, the coolest little roadhouse in North Carolina - http://thekrakenbar.com/

Thanks for listening! Subscribe to The Byrd Word on your favorite podcast app and leave us a review on iTunes. Share The Byrd Word with your friends. Most of all, we hope we see you at a live show soon:

 Mar 14 Wed
The Kraken
Chapel Hill, NC, United States
w Kyshona Armstrong!

Mar 16 Fri
Grassroots Concerts
Nisswa, MN, United States

Mar 17 Sat
The Warming House
Minneapolis, MN, United States

Mar 21 Wed
The Kraken
Chapel Hill, NC, United States
w Jim Watson!

Mar 23 Fri
Red Bicycle Hall
Madison, IN, United States
w Kyshona Armstrong!

Mar 24 Sat
The Princeton Coffeehouse
Princeton, IL, United States
w Kyshona Armstrong!

Your fan,




You Are Welcome Here

Singer, songwriter, and storyteller Eric Bannan's latest CD ‘You Are Welcome Here’ is #15 on the folk charts. He's our special guest this Wednesday at The Kraken, a little roadhouse outside Chapel Hill, North Carolina where my band plays every Wednesday from 7-10pm. I talk to Eric about finding faith, a community, and a home for his music. You can find out more about Eric, and find his music at http://wp2015.ericbannan.com/

Several fantastic artists come up in our conversation:

Donna Washington. Donna is an award winning storyteller, spoken word recording artist, and author. As Eric says, "She's made of awesome." https://dlwstoryteller.com

Wyatt Easterling. Wyatt is a prolific North Carolina songwriter with a history in Nashville as a hit-writer and publisher.  http://www.wyatteasterling.com

David LaMotte. Peace activist, songwriter, author. David's book “Worldchanging 101” is a how-to book that could be called "How To Change the World for Dummies." Tools you can use and ideas that keep the hope machine running. https://www.davidlamotte.com/worldchanging-101/

Billy Jonas. Performer, songwriter, composer, multi-instrumentalist, and educator. http://www.billyjonas.com

Janis Ian. Do I really need to tell you who Janis Ian is? https://www.janisian.com

Thanks for listening. Your fan,




Tea with Melissa Greener

Today we have a great conversation with singer, songwriter, guitarist, poet, and mental health advocate Melissa Greener. Melissa is about to release an album and mental health advocacy project called 'The Fallow Year.' Melissa reads her poem “Tea, Mint from Your Garden” which is up on her patreon page, https://www.patreon.com/melissagreener . I read my poem "Painting of The Baptism" to Melissa (I'll print the text below). Finally, we'll hear a sneak preview track from 'The Fallow Year.'

The Fallow Year is an album and a campaign for awareness of mental health issues. Whether you know it or not, it is likely that someone in your life struggles with mental illness, addiction, or family issues. Maybe it's you. You are not alone. If you’d like to share this campaign with others and help spread awareness, visit melissagreener.com/thefallowyear. You can help for as little as $5 and there are packages available for Melissa to come to your company or organization for an intensive 2-day Soul Session Group Workshop, where you can bear witness to anothers' story, or have your own story heard by others. Melissa will work with each participant in front of the group, empowering values and virtues like Vulnerability, Self-Honesty, Empathy, Courage (Trust) and Communication. One-on-one Soul Sessions are also available.

You can also support Melissa Greener on her Patreon page for as little as $1 a month. Visit https://www.patreon.com/melissagreener

I'm playing tomorrow night with my band at The Kraken, a little roadhouse outside Chapel Hill, NC, and we're having a birthday party for the late Paul Ford, who was our cellist in the band and a good friend. We’ll celebrate Paul’s life by playing, in its entirety, an as yet unreleased album that we made with Paul days before he was diagnosed with a stage 4 glioblastoma. It’s a miracle that we were able to make that record (that we’ll be releasing this fall!) and it’s going to be a lot of fun to celebrate Paul’s birthday tomorrow night by playing it for our, and Paul’s, fans.  

Come to my first public full-length reading from my new book of poetry ‘You’ve Changed,’ this Friday, March 2nd at St. Matthews Episcopal Church in Hillsborough NC. Johnny Waken will be there too and we'll weave songs into the performance.

If you enjoy The Byrd Word, subscribe to us on the Apple podcast app, Stitcher, or google play. Share the podcast with your friends and leave us a review. Join my email list, connect with me on Facebook, Twitter @jonathanbyrd, Instagram @jonathanbyrd, and look for the Jonathan Byrd channel on Apple News.

Thanks for listening to The Byrd Word. Your fan,

Jonathan Byrd



Open scent-filled rich Christ, light the door that is so heavy.
Delicate pink-flowering lilac Jesus, summer garden of God,
perfume the beginning of this gospel with your Son.

Amidst the trees there came a wind.
Amidst the thorn came roses.

A cross voice murmurs at the front round window.
Prepare the burden. Prepare the way.
At the branches’ insistence, the painters note.
The dim medium can hardly catch even a momentary sense,
pallid, innumerable, sullen, oppressive,
a gleam lying, crying like saddle-bags.
Behold, a dusty, distant Lord.
Behold, birds and bees circling in the stillness.
The effect is gilt with swiftness,
making the flamelike messenger roar monotonous stillness.

Art is immobile, a jade-faced organ.

Motion blossoms, producing fantastic curtains,
able beauty, tremulous and straight.
The honey-sweet wilderness, the one laburnum
to seek the unmown grass.

The horns huge, smoking.
Thy honey-coloured face.

Young and awake, the Lord went into the wilderness.
Years passed ever languidly across the river.
To preach was a pleasure.
To baptize the river.
To sudden sitting and
really strange dreams within extraordinary people.

The painter at his easel. Land and time.
Suddenly, skillfully, full-length form!
Beauty confessing to the vulgar!
The portrait seemed lovely, its sins in remission.
The face lingers upright!
As though to see its own lids.



You've Changed

March 2nd at St. Matthews Episcopal Church in Hillsborough, North Carolina, I'll do my first full-length public reading performance. In preparation, this week on The Byrd Word I read extensively from 'You've Changed,' my new book of poetry from Mezcalita Press. You can purchase your own copy of 'You've Changed' at http://www.jonathanbyrd.com/the-store/youve-changed-1

I mention my friend and great poet Eva HD in this podcast. Here's a good place to read a few of her poems http://michaeldennispoet.blogspot.com/2015/07/rotten-perfect-mouth-eva-hd-mansfield.html and here's a good place to buy them https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1771260815/

I also mention my friend Corin Raymond, a musical poet and spoken word artist. For all things Corin, and there is a whole kingdom of beautiful things, https://corinraymond.com/

You can find me these places with my musical partner Johnny Waken (Austin McCall joins us on drums every Wednesday night):

WED FEB 21 - The Kraken - Chapel Hill NC - special guest Eno River Rats

WED FEB 28 - The Kraken - Chapel Hill NC - a special night in memory of Paul Ford

FRI MAR 2 - St. Matthews Episcopal Church - Faith & Arts Series - Hillsborough NC - a full-length reading show featuring poems from my new book 'You've Changed'

WED MAR 7 - The Kraken - Chapel Hill NC - special guest Eric Bannan

WED MAR 14 - The Kraken - Chapel Hill NC - special guest Kyshona Armstrong

FRI MAR 16 - Journey Church - Nisswa, MN

SAT MAR 17 - The Warming House - Minneapolis, MN

WED MAR 21 - The Kraken - Chapel Hill NC - special guest Jim Watson

FRI MAR 23 - Red Bicycle Hall - Madison, IN

SAT MAR 24 - Open Prairie Church (Princeton Coffeehouse) - Princeton, IL


Your fan,




Wild Ponies with Rowan

This week, my son Rowan asked if we could talk about my song Wild Ponies, which we used in the first podcast. We listen to an early demo version of the song and break down the lyrics, which I'll share below.

We'll be on WCOM, Carrboro's local radio station, at 10am tomorrow. Tune in to https://wcomfm.org/ and listen live. Catch a show this month:

WED FEB 14 - The Kraken - Chapel Hill NC - Valentines Day!

THURS FEB 15 - Carolina Theater - Durham NC - opening for The Earls Of Leicester

WED FEB 21 - The Kraken - Chapel Hill NC - special guest Eno River Rats

WED FEB 28 - The Kraken - Chapel Hill NC - a special night in memory of Paul Ford

FRI MAR 2 - St. Matthews Episcopal Church - Faith & Arts Series - Hillsborough NC - a full-length reading show featuring poems from my new book 'You've Changed'


Wild Ponies

She had legs like daggers and eyes like oceans
and her heart locked up in a hard combination.
I took her to the island, to see the wild ponies.

See, I had a friend who had a concrete boat, -
it don't take as much as you might think to float-
and he lived out on the island with the wild ponies.

We made a fire in the live oak trees,
and listened to the pirate breeze blowing.
And wondered how a man could be
so far from home, and still know where he's going.

She drifted down from a shipwrecked town
and landed here on the Pamlico sound.
She'd heard out on the islands, there were wild ponies.

I gave all I could give to her:
a chance to see what she had heard
and a night out on the island with the wild ponies.

But she didn't stay here, like she didn't stay there,
always looking for somewhere a little greener.
Every time I see the ponies run-
scared and hungry, wild and young- I see her.

I heard somebody say she died
drinking one night on the ocean side,
swimming to freedom, like a wild pony.

I wish her well. I wish her peace.
It's got to be lonely to be so free,
always running, like a wild pony,
living your life like a wild pony.


Wild Ponies is on an album called Cackalack, available from the store.

Your fan,


wild ponies.jpg


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I Love You Guys

Today we're joined by New Folk award-winning songwriter Wes Collins, who will also be playing with us Wednesday February 7th at The Kraken, a little roadhouse on Highway 54 west of Chapel Hill, North Carolina. We'll listen to and talk about Wes's song 'I Love You Guys,' how it got started, and how it got finished. We'll also hear a cut from Wes's album 'One Layer Down,' a summery story-song called Diana.

You can find Wes Collins and his lyrics online at https://www.wescollins.com/ , on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/wescollinsmusic/ and at https://www.reverbnation.com/wescollins

You can also listen to 'I Love You Guys' on Youtube at https://youtu.be/wBnuLBbAZyw

Thanks for tuning in to The Byrd Word in your podcast app, iTunes, Stitcher, or Google Play. Leave us a review and share the podcast with your friends online. If you're local, join us every Wednesday night from 7-10pm at The Kraken. I love you guys. Your fan,


wes collins fischer.jpg

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Super Blue Blood Moon Horse

Today, my son Rowan and I discussed the super blue blood moon, and I read a poem about the moon that was inspired by something he said to me a few days ago.

Moon Horse

I heard of a language with no words for colors.
They must have seen my moon horse running,
a cloud of light rising from the black page of the sky.

Is a half moon a golden bowl?
Silver is silver. Gold is gold.

Moon is moon.

In a moon house,
my mother: the moon-haired lady- the ashes of time turning everything moon.

Winter-white moon,
alabaster dogtooth. The dark-half dove like the skin of a porpoise.

Wood smoke moon,
a fawn-spotted sand dollar, oyster biscuits and a sandcastle tan.

Lemon butter moon,
pineapple blonde. Daffodil medallion of a dijon underneath the lid.

Blood orange moon,
ginger-fire tangerine, apricot rustbelt cantaloupe cider.

I heard of a language with no words for colors.
They must have seen my moon horse running,
a cloud of light rising from the black page of the sky.

You can see me every Wednesday from 7-10pm at a little roadhouse on highway 54 outside Chapel Hill, North Carolina called The Kraken. This Friday, February 2nd, I’ll be doing my first full-length reading performance at a private residence in Carrboro, North Carolina. You can email me or private message me on facebook or twitter, and I’ll give you the directions and details.

You can purchase a book of my poetry called ‘You’ve Changed,’ available from my web store jonathanbyrd.com/the-store. If you like the podcast, subscribe and leave us a review on iTunes. Follow me on facebook, instagram, youtube, and twitter, and now on my own Apple News channel called simply Jonathan Byrd. Feel free to leave comments and suggestions for future shows. Until next time, I’m your fan,

Jonathan Byrd


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Travelin' Woman

On The Byrd Word podcast today, ‘Travelin’ Woman’ Jess Klein, who is also our special guest tonight at The Kraken on Highway 54 outside of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where I play with my band every Wednesday. I’ve known Jess for a long time, but I had never heard this song until I discovered it by accident yesterday putting some promo together for our show.

We begin with a live performance from youtube channel Music Fog. Find them at https://www.youtube.com/user/MusicFog. Jess has two other songs on Music Fog along with her own youtube channel https://www.youtube.com/user/msjessklein

You can find more of Jess Klein’s music and tour dates on jessklein.com. Join her email list to stay up-to-date. Also listen to and download her entire catalogue on jessklein.bandcamp.com. We’re playing tonight at a roadhouse called The Kraken on a two-lane highway outside Chapel Hill, North Carolina. You can find them at thekrakenbar.com

Thanks for listening. Subscribe to The Byrd Word podcast to stay updated, share it with your friends online, and leave us a review on iTunes. Until next time, I’m your fan, Jonathan Byrd.

Travelin' Woman - © Jess Klein

And what's a travelin' woman to do
I'm in Chicago it's a quarter to two
Can't go out walkin' on the streets alone
But there's nobody here to make me at home
And in the morning I'll be movin' along anyway

I got no money but I got no disease
I got a good heart and a body to please
I heard your story bout the Virgin Queen
But that ain't really quite the same as me
I need a lover to put my mind at ease
I need someone to take the weight off me

Show me someone who will bring me to his town
Take me out and twirl me all around
Tell me he's so glad for what he's found
But don't ever make me put my suitcase down

He said he loved me and I should be his kin
But that my travelin' would do him in
The next one told me I could travel a lot
But when I came back, another girl he'd got
They make me feel like I can't keep time
Or my timin's just too sublime

Then there was Jimmy with his black cross tattoos
But he was busy with his own set of blues
The way my heart felt between Joey and Mike
Is what the desert between oceans feels like
In certain ways I been around the world
In others I'm just a baby girl

So people tell me if I'm tellin' the truth
Talk to me clearly now and don't dilute
This ain't no suitcase full of trinkets and clothes
Or any other thing the world could impose
It's only full of what's pure as gold
To keep it safe from a world as cold
So when it opens it's sure as bold

Show me someone who will bring me to his town
Take me out and twirl me all around
Tell me he's so glad for what he's found
But don't ever make me put my suitcase down

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rapid I movement

In our first ever Byrd Word podcast, I read a poem to my son that was partially inspired by our bedtime reading and conversations. He has a lot to say about it.

You can share the podcast on twitter, facebook, email and more by sharing this link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-byrd-word/id1337844620?mt=2&i=1000400263206

The links mentioned in the podcast are:

1) You've Changed, my first book of poetry, which can be found here: http://www.jonathanbyrd.com/the-store/youve-changed-1

2) the fantastic and imaginative photography of National Geographic Award-winner Rodney Bursiel, which can be found here: https://rodneybursielphotography.com/

3) my song, Wild Ponies, from the album Cackalack. I recommend ordering the CD, which includes lyrics and a beautiful design by John Dixon; available here: http://www.waterbug.com/wordpress/product/cackalack/

You can listen to the song and download the album in the format of your choice, including full-quality WAVs, here: https://jonathanbyrd.bandcamp.com/album/cackalack

While you're on Bandcamp, you can browse my entire catalog including live shows and out-of-print records, and even order my life's work - 18 albums! - for $79.99.

You can read the poem 'rapid I movement' at http://typishly.com/2018/01/18/rapid-i-movement/ Thanks to typishly.com for featuring me this week.

Thanks so much for listening. See you next week. Your fan,



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