Monday, October 24, 2016

I don't 'get' poetry readings--

Bethany Prosseda writes, "I don't 'get' poetry readings":

"...I think this generalization points to a shift that has occurred in poetry. It seems that at some point, poetry went underground. It went quietly and without a going away party. It forgot to send Christmas cards. So, it stands to reason that when poetry showed up again at its high school reunion twenty years later, no one recognized it anymore. Poetry spoke a different language, and no one at the reunion knew how to converse with it beyond the small talk anymore. But that’s not to say that poetry didn’t have friends because it did. It had underground friends that understood poetry and spoke its new, underground language.

Photo of Ray McNiece reading at Mahall's
photo by GL
"There’s nothing wrong with the new poetry. It’s just intimidating. This should be understandable. It’s only human to feel intimidated by something you don’t “get.” I wonder though, if that’s the approach that poetry really wants to take. But what do I know about poetry? Not much. All I know is that we’re living in a time of great accessibility. ...

"I’m not advocating for poetry to change. It doesn’t need botox or rhinoplasty. Poetry’s beautiful just the way it is. I guess all I’m trying to say is that, deep down, everyone likes getting invited to the party and being asked if they like Eric Dolphy."

Monday, October 10, 2016

Cities are built with language

There is a thread of the rustic in much poetry-- possibly in too much poetry. As Spinks calls it, poetry of "brooks, brambles, and fields."

photo of Coventry village at night
photo by GL
But not Cleveland poetry. Cleveland poetry tends more to be the poetry of the city, a poetry of cracked asphalt and battered garbage dumpsters and smoking a cigarette in the cold rain outside a bar in Ohio City, not rhapsodizing over a field of daisies.

Tom Chivers-- a London poet-- says
“The city resists nostalgic forms of poetry that have been handed down to us in various traditions. There is this energy and aggression and speed in a city that lends itself to poetry. We are surrounded by language, whether it’s place names, digital signs, advertising hoardings or the voices of market traders – it’s everywhere. Cities are built with language.”

--(and, on the subject of cities, check out the latest issue of The City Poetry.)

Friday, October 7, 2016

Poetry-- it's not a contest

Ohio Poetry Day is coming up, and I've been thinking a little about poetry contests.
Is poetry about competition?
Diane Kendig criticizes competitions, and I can see her point: really, poetry is not a contest.  "Winning" is not what poetry is about!
But I have contradictory feelings about this: I have to admit, I love contests. I have fun entering them, and I have fun watching contests. There's nothing more fun than watching a good poetry slam, and competition is absolutely essential to a slam-- that's what makes slam exciting; that's it's all about.
Or is it?
Isn't it really about a good poem? Isn't a good performance something worthwhile on its own; you don't have to "beat" somebody else to be admirable?

Friday, September 30, 2016

Poetry, when it’s happening, is like sex (Nin Andrews Interviewed by Grace Cavalieri)

Nin Andrews
Poet Nin Andrews (Why God is a Woman,  Southern ComfortThe Book of Orgasms) is interviewed by Grace Cavalieri.

When you write a poem, what do you realize about yourself that you didn’t know before?
NA:   Maybe what I realize has a lot to do with how I experience poetry, the writing of it anyhow. Poetry, when it’s happening, is like sex. It totally suffuses me. (I like the word, suffuse.) Afterwards I always forget how it worked.

 but for me, it begins by chance. It usually begins in a moment when imagination meets reality.

Language, whatever else it is, is a mystery when you examine it. The way it pretends or attempts to replicate the world and what is in the mind or heart or soul. As a poet, I am forever leaning closer to it, trying to see or hear what needs to be said. And how. And each time I lean in, I try my best to get even closer to the fire, to the truth, to whatever it is that is inside the words and that moves me. Or whatever makes magic happen on the page. Sometimes the language is resistant—it’s hard and cold like the surface of a shell. Other times, it opens easily and lets me in, lets me flow. But it’s never predictable. I can’t guarantee when the heart will speak. Or if the journey will begin or end well. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Rules for Living

On a long drive past half-harvested cornfields, poet Karen Craigo writes "100 rules for living (give or take)."

58.          Each life needs a great adventure.

photo of cornfields

24.          Be attuned to patterns—even rows of corn stubble, a line of Corvettes on the highway. There’s meaning in patterns.

67.          Some people belief ridiculous things. There’s no way you’re not one of them.

81.          Live a life that can’t be summarized in a bumper sticker.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Ohio Poetry Day Poet of the Year selection

Ohio Poet of the Year Maggie Smith

The Ohio Poetry Day Association has selected Maggie Smith as the Ohio Poet of the Year for her book The Well Speaks of Its Own Poison.

Smith says her book “...was largely inspired by fairy tales and folklore, but it blends those influences with my Ohio roots.
“Many of the poems are set in or reference places that are important to me, including my childhood home in Westerville, Alum Creek, and Schiller Park in German Village."

In a blog post, the Ohio Poetry Association explains how the Ohio Poet of the Year is selected.

Cover of The Well Speaks of its Own Poison

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Kent's Wick Poetry Center is kicking off the 2016-2017 poetry season this evening with a reading by Stuart Friebert, followed by a series of poetry events coming up through May.

wick poetry center header
We are excited to announce the Wick Poetry Center’s 2016-2017 Reading Series lineup. Mark your calendars and join us to meet these award-winning authors.
Stuart Friebert header
Stuart Friebert 
Poetry Reading

Sponsored by the Department of Modern & Classical Language Studies and the Institute for Applied Linguistics
7:30 pm
 | Kent State Student Center, Room 306 AB
Stuart Friebert is the author of fourteen collections of poetry, including Floating Heart, recipient of the Ohioana 2015 Poetry Award. He has published ten volumes of translations, including Puppets in the Wind: Selected Poems of Karl Krolow, and Be Quiet: Selected Poems by Kuno Raeber. He founded the writing program at Oberlin College and co-founded FIELD and the Oberlin College Press. Friebert has won many awards for his poems and translations, including an NEA Fellowship.

Kent Creativity Festival

Kent Creativity Festival

Presented by the City of Kent in collaboration with Kent State University
11:00 am – 5:00 pm | 

Lester A. Lefton Esplanade outside of the May Prentice House
The Kent community invites you to join us for the inaugural Kent Creativity Festival! This will be an opportunity for people of all ages and skill levels to come together to create, share, and explore the creation of all kinds of art. The event will take place on Saturday, September 24, 2016, from 11 am to 5 pm on the Lester A. Lefton Esplanade outside of the May Prentice House and the Wick Poetry Center.

The Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize Reading
The Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize Reading with Adrian Matejka & Leah Osowski

7:30 pm | 

College of Architecture & Environmental Design, Room 120
Adrian Matejka was born in Nuremberg, Germany and grew up in California and Indiana. He is a graduate of Indiana University and the MFA program at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. His first collection of poems, The Devil’s Garden, won the 2002 New York / New England Award from Alice James Books. His second collection, Mixology, was a winner of the 2008 National Poetry Series and was published by Penguin Books in 2009. Mixology was a finalist for a NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literature – Poetry. His most recent book, The Big Smoke, was awarded the 2014 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award. The Big Smoke was also finalist for the 2013 National Book Award and for the 2014 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry. He is a winner of the Julia Peterkin Award and recipient of two Illinois Arts Council Literary Awards and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Lannan Foundation. His work has appeared in American Poetry Review, The Best American Poetry 2010, Gulf Coast, Ploughshares, Poetry, and Prairie Schooner among other journals and anthologies. He teaches in the MFA program at Indiana University in Bloomington and is currently working on a new collection of poems and a graphic novel.
Leah Poole Osowski is from Massachusetts. She received an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of North Carolina Wilmington where she was a reader for Ecotone magazine. Her first book hover over her won the 2015 Wick Poetry Prize, chosen by Adrian Matejka. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Black Warrior Review, The Cincinnati Review, Hotel Amerika, The Journal, Mid-American Review, Salamander, and Third Coast, among others.

World Poetry Reading
World Poetry Reading
 - Traveling Stanzas

Co-Sponsored by the Office of Global Education
7:30 pm 

| College of Architecture & Environmental Design, Room 120

Kent State international students from eleven different countries will share poems they love from their own cultures facilitating a global conversation through the intimate and inclusive voice of poetry.

P. Scott Cunningham and Frank Báez 
Poetry Reading
P. Scott Cunningham and Frank Báez 
Poetry Reading
7:30 pm 

| College of Architecture & Environmental Design, Room 120
P. Scott Cunningham is the founder and director of O, Miami, a poetry festival with the goal of every single person in Miami-Dade County encountering a poem. O, Miami events and projects have been featured in The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Washington Post, National Public Radio, ESPN, Time, The Guardian, and many others, and the organization was named by Fast Company as one of 51 “brilliant urban ideas that are changing America.” Cunningham is also the co-founder and editor of Jai-Alai Books, a regional literary publishing imprint, and the poetry editor of The Miami Rail. His poems, essays, and translations have appeared in Harvard Review, The Awl, A Public Space, RHINO, Los Angeles Review of Books, Tupelo Quarterly, Monocle, and The Guardian, among others. A graduate of Wesleyan University, he lives in Miami with his wife Christina.
Frank Báez is a Dominican poet and writer. He has published three books of poetry, one of short stories and three books of chronicles. Postales was edited in five countries and was awarded the National Prize for Poetry Salome Ureña in 2009. In 2014 Jai Alai books published an anthology in english of his poetry titled Last Night I Dreamt I was a DJ. In 2015 he  was part of the anthology El canon abierto (última poesía en español) that brings together the most relevant Spanish-language poets born after 1970. It is member of the group El Hombrecito, with whom he has released two albums and a DVD.

Terrance Hayes 

Poetry Reading&#823
Terrance Hayes 

Poetry Reading

In collaboration with the NEOMFA Consortium
7:00 pm 
| The Kiva Auditorium

Terrance Hayes
 is the author of How to Be Drawn; Lighthead, which won the 2010 National Book Award for poetry; Muscular Music, which won the Kate Tufts Discovery Award; Hip Logic, winner of the 2001 National Poetry Series, and Wind in a Box. He is a professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh, in Pennsylvania.

Terrance Hayes 

Poetry Reading&#823
Lesley Jenike

 Poetry Reading
7:30 pm | 
Kent State Student Center, Room 306 AB

Lesley Jenike's poems have appeared in Poetry, The Gettysburg Review, The Southern Review, Smartish Pace, Rattle, and many other journals, and her second collection, Holy Island, was published by Gold Wake Press in 2014. She's been the recipient of fellowships and scholarships from the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the Vermont Studio Center, the Sewanee Writers' Conference, and the Ohio Arts Council. She teaches writing and literature at the Columbus College of Art and Design.

Celebrating Our Own Poetry Reading

Celebrating Our Own Poetry Reading

 featuring the Poetry Scholarship Winners
7:30 pm 
Fashion Building, Rockwell Auditorium
Celebrating Our Own is the Wick Poetry Center’s annual undergraduate and high school scholarship poetry reading. Selected by poet Matthew Minicucci, the winners of the 2016 undergraduate scholarships are Lydia Leclerc, Victoria Bracher, and Ben Baumgardner. The 2016 high school scholarship winners are Molly Davidson and Taylor Patterson.

6th Annual U.S. Poet Laureate Reading&
6th Annual U.S. Poet Laureate Reading

 with Juan Felipe Herrera

Question & Answer SessionTUESDAY, APRIL 4, 2017

Co-Sponsored by the University Libraries and the Honors College
1:00 pm 

| University Library Quiet Study Area

Poetry Reading
Co-Sponsored by the University Libraries and the Honors College
7:30 pm
 | The 
Kiva Auditorium
Juan Felipe Herrera is the 21st Poet Laureate of the United States (2015-2016) and is the first Latino to hold the position. From 2012-2014, Herrera served as California State Poet Laureate. Herrera’s many collections of poetry include Notes on the Assemblage; Senegal Taxi; Half of the World in Light: New and Selected Poems, a recipient of the PEN/Beyond Margins Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award; and 187 Reasons Mexicanos Can’t Cross The Border: Undocuments 1971-2007. He is also the author of Crashboomlove: A Novel in Verse, which received the Americas Award. His books of prose for children include: SkateFate, Calling The Doves, which won the Ezra Jack Keats Award; Upside Down Boy, which was adapted into a musical for young audiences in New York City; and Cinnamon Girl: Letters Found Inside a Cereal Box. Herrera is also a performance artist and activist on behalf of migrant and indigenous communities and at-risk youth.

16th Annual Giving Voice
16th Annual Giving Voice
6:30 pm | 

Kent Student Center Ballroom

The 16th annual performance of Giving Voice features local students (grades 3-12), international students, and families from Akron and Kent. All material is created in Wick outreach programs, including workshops funded by the Knight Foundation, and workshops led by Kent State University undergraduates enrolled in the service-learning course “Teaching Poetry in the Schools.”

David Hassler headshot
In peace and poetry, 

David Signature 2
David Hassler
Wick Poetry Center
line wick 3

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Wick Poetry Center
330-672-2067 | wickpoetry@kent.edu | P.O. Box 5190 | Kent, OH 44240

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Book swap Monday (and poetry, too)

Monday, September 12, 2016

Public Square, Downtown Cleveland – 2:30-7 p.m.: 
Gather on Cleveland Foundation Centennial Plaza in Cleveland Public Square for a book swap and afternoon of entertainment (including the poetry performance group "Distinguished Gentlemen of the Spoken Word") in honor of the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards and the inaugural Cleveland Book Week. Bring a book or find one there, then mingle with other readers and swap books! 

Books for youth and adults will be available for free from the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards and the Cleveland Kids' Book Bank until quantities run out! 

Throughout the Swap, connect with local reading and literacy-focused nonprofit organizations, and peruse your new book while enjoying live music from the Roots of American Music and Cleveland Foundation Uptown Saturday Nights Festival artists SpYder Stompers and Sugar Pie and Eric Seddon’s Hot Club.

Mitchell's Homemade Ice Cream will be on the plaza to give away free scoops to the first 500 people who present their library card. If attendees don’t have a library card, Cleveland Public Library and Cuyahoga County Public Library will be registering for new cards on-site. In case of inclement weather, the event will be held on Tuesday, September 13.

Join us for this all-ages book party on Cleveland Foundation Centennial Plaza at Public Square!

2:30 Book Swap Opens
2:30 - 4 p.m. Music from SpYder Stompers and Sugar Pie
3 p.m. Cleveland Association of Black Storytellers
4 p.m. The Distinguished Gentlemen of Spoken Word
4:30 - 7 p.m. Music from Eric Seddon’s Hot Club
4:30 p.m. Happy Hour Cash Bar Opens
6 p.m. Cleveland Association of Black Storytellers
7 p.m. Event End

...and if a book swap doesn't do it for you, how about poetry underneath planetarium stars?

Friday, September 16, 2016

Rowan Ricardo Phillips (2016 Poetry Winner, Heaven)

Shafran Planetarium, Cleveland Museum of Natural History – 3:30 p.m.


Phillips-2016-HREscape the confines of Earth and travel to an otherworldly state of mind with 2016 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award recipient Rowan Ricardo Phillips. The author will read from his poetry collection, Heaven, under stars and imagery in Shafran Planetarium. Brief introduction by Museum Astronomer Jason Davis. Advance registration is required. Copies of Heaven will be on sale in the Museum Store, and Phillips will sign autographs before the reading, starting at 3pm. Phillips, a translator, critic and poet, splits his time between Barcelona and New York City, and also writes about basketball and soccer for The New Yorker.

Requesting Support for Russell Atkins

Requesting Support for Russell Atkins 

M. A. Shaheed, with the support of Yaseen AsSami, Diane Kending and Robert E. McDonough, is attempting to convince the city of Cleveland and the East Cleveland Public Library to honor Cleveland poet, composer, editor, librettist, and literary and musical theorist Russell Atkins by naming the street on which he lived (in Cleveland) and perhaps a room in the East Cleveland Public Library after him. We are asking you to assist this effort by making a signed statement about the importance of his achievement; because this statement will be showed to more than one person, it is probably best not to make it a letter but instead one page or so, headed with something like “On Russell Atkins” and finishing with your signature and perhaps a brief bio indicating your position in the arts. If you would like to refresh your familiarity with Russell’s poetry, a good place is clicking on his name in the author list will bring you to all the poetry Russell Atkins had collected by 2000.
It will be very helpful if you can send this statement as an email attachment to M. A. Shaheed at <naamtaib@yahoo.com> as soon as possible, ideally within a weekBy honoring Russell Atkins’ lifelong commitment to art and tremendous achievement, we also honor art itself.         
Robert E. McDonough                        

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Love Song for Cleveland

I'm certain that all the clevelandpoetics regulars know about it already, but if you haven't taken a look at Love Song for Cleveland, the new book of poems by Ray McNiece (with Cleveland photos by Tim Lachina): you should. Or pick up a copy at any of the local independent bookstores, like Mac's Backs or Loganberry Books or Appletree Books.

Love Song for Cleveland, from Red Giant Books
Ray McNiece performs "Love Song for Cleveland" at the Barking Spider, backed up by Hillbilly Idol.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Lake Effect Poetry in the Slam semifinals

Cleveland's Lake Effect Poetry team has made their winding way to the National Poetry Slam, and have now won their second bout, making their way to the semifinals. They're competing at 8 pm tonight against San Diego, Slam New Orleans, Bowery, and Dallas.
Go, Cleveland, go! Slam those puppies, and show them how it's done!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016


Subject: Call for Trumped Stories
Dark House Books has opened submissions today for a quick turn around anthology titled "We've Been Trumped".  They're looking for stories of 2500 to 5000 words that are "light-hearted, satirical stories envisioning life under President Trump".  Stories can be in any genre put they prefer that they aren't about Trump or that he doesn't make a major appearance in the story.  The deadline is September 15, 2016 and payment is a royalty split.  You can find the details here.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

A Honky Tonk in Cleveland Ohio

You may know Carl Sandberg (1878-1967) for his Chicago poem.  But here's his Cleveland poem:

Honky Tonk in Cleveland, Ohio

photo of Winking Lizard pub in Coventry
photo by GL
It’s a jazz affair, drum crashes and cornet razzes.
The trombone pony neighs and the tuba jackass snorts.
The banjo tickles and titters too awful.
The chippies talk about the funnies in the papers.
     The cartoonists weep in their beer.
     Ship riveters talk with their feet
     To the feet of floozies under the tables.
A quartet of white hopes mourn with interspersed snickers:
        “I got the blues.
        I got the blues.
        I got the blues.”
And . . . as we said earlier:
     The cartoonists weep in their beer.

Friday, July 15, 2016

What is a Chapbook?

...and, having answered your question "what is a literary magazine," poet and editor E. Kristin Anderson goes on to ask the question ‘What Is a Chapbook?

a photo of one of our shelves of books

What is a chapbook, anyway?  From looking at chapbooks, you'd think it's just a shorthand for a "cheap book"-- and they are, usually; at least, usually a lot lower in cost (and production values) than more highly polished perfect-bound books (although some chapbooks can be quite impressive handmade works of art).  That's not what the word actually means, though: chapbooks were originally the books sold by a chapman, the itinerant pedlers that used to take carts from town to town in the middle ages, and would sell-- after the printing press was invented-- broadsides and cheaply-printed books alongside pots and pans and razors and nostrums.  So, poetry chapbooks have a long history.
Today poets are their own chapmen, sell their own chapbooks, the itinerant peddlers of the middle ages, going from  reading to reading, town to town, with their wagons filled with goods.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Creating Order

image of blocks spelling "order" and "chaos"

In The White Space Inside the Poem, Susan Grimm addresses the question of order: specifically, in what order should a poet arrange their poems?
Of course, she is coming back to a subject she has addressed before: Ordering the Storm: How to put together a book of poems. And others have looked at the subject as well: the helicopter view, the mix-tape strategy.

You can order by theme, by date, by alternating long and short, or alternating serious and frivolous poems. You can put similar-themed poems next to each other, or you can sprinkle them out, or bookend a collection with poems on the same theme.

At a reading, I like to try to alternate the serious with the silly; the rhymed with the free.  But sometimes it's good to just find a theme and develop it.

In all, it's a question of whether a book of poetry is a selection of individual gems, or a single unified thing.  One thing, or many?  In the mix-tape view, is this a rock opera, or a collection of singles?

Anyone else have thoughts to add?

Monday, June 20, 2016

365 Days of Writing at Writing Knights

logo for Writing Knights
Azriel Johnson, at Writing Knights, has started a year-long series of exercises for how to write poetry (but also somewhat applicable to other types of creative writing), with a post every day, starting the beginning of May. (The series is also reposted at NEOpoets.org).  So far, the series has gotten to week eight.
If you want to learn poetry-- or if you're already a poet, but might like some exercises as a tune-up-- or if you just like to read about poetry-- check it out.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Words from Jane Hirschfield

“How do we live in the great meanwhile, in which all our lives take place?”


Interviewed By: Kaveh Akbar


The poet doesn't invent. He listens. ~Jean Cocteau