Being a relative newbie to the Cleveland arts scene after decades of writing primarily for the boxes in my attic (and living in Elyria and Marion), I didn't know most of the folks in attendance. But I did know the work of the poets who were slated to read, and even without the good cause to support, I was happy to brave the elements and drive 45 minutes each way to see and hear them. Bree of Green Panda Press not only did a fantastic job of putting this event together, she also read poetry and sent chills up my spine with her haunting rendition of Bob Dylan's "Masters of War."
Michael Salinger served as the evening's emcee. He almost effortlessly kept things moving at the perfect pace, while sharing some fine African poetry and sprinkling in some of his own work. I was particularly moved by a Sara Holbrook piece he read. Other featured poets included several of my favorites from Cleveland (or anywhere): Phil Metres, T.M. Göttl, Elise Geither, Ray McNiece, C. Allen Rearick, and Mary O'Malley. And as Salinger joked, how often do you see poets pay to read? Each was sponsored by a local business or organization that believes in "thinking globally and acting locally."
But lest you think the night was all poetry, there was also a silent auction featuring work by some fantastic local artists including Jim Lang, George Fitzpatrick, Tom Kryss, js makkos, and Bree. Whole Foods Market provided some delectable yum yums for our tum tums. And there were plenty of cool, kind people to meet. The place was packed. And though I kept seeing Lit executive director Judith Mansour-Thomas and others coming in with more chairs, I believe they eventually ran out. But it's always encouraging to see folks willing to stand up for good poetry and a good cause. And according to a message Bree posted on the ClevelandPoetics Yahoo listserve, this event raised $1973 for the Sudanese Lost Boys of Cleveland!
C. Allen Rearick
Here are a few (more) random photos I took that night:
Vertigo Xi'an Xavier
Claire McMahon and Philip Metres
Jesus Crisis and Dianne Borsenik
I applaud everyone who played any role whatsoever in making this event a success! I encourage anyone who hasn't already to please visit the Lost Boys' website to find out more. Click here to learn about other ways you can help. And thank you for allowing me to play a very small part by writing this blog.
Peace and poetry,
John "Jesus Crisis" Burroughs