Don’t Laugh! (Out Loud)
The Poetry of Joe Toner and Dan Rourke
Being pretentious, dreary and inscrutable—all at the same time—is a lot of hard work. These two local poets take the easy way out. Despite their education, these veteran schoolteachers prefer to write sweet, breezy verses that can be appreciated by anyone with an ear for a well-turned phrase and a feeling for the beautiful little twists and turns of life. Joe, who claims to have roller-skated from Minneapolis to Cleveland, also claims to have read poetry with Dan at the Shaker Library’s Poetry in the Woods program for the last ten years. “We’d like to bring our poetry to Lakewood so that our west side friends can scratch their heads with the same vigor as our east side friends.” Dan, a former English teacher, former magazine editor and former employee of a surprising number of defunct bookstores, is the proud author of a series of breathtaking, unpublished novels. While both are known for making even the hardest-hearted critics of poetry crack a smile, Dan specializes in the linguistically astonishing as Joe gives himself over to the absurd. Bobbleheads of Ovid will be given away to the first fifty audience members who realize that this is a joke and that there will be no free giveaways.
Tuesday, April 15 at 7:00 p.m. in the Main Library Auditorium
On the Flyleaf: Herbert Woodward Martin
Celebrates Poetry and Song
Poems are nothing more than songs. Songs are simply poems sung. These simple truths form the essence of Herbert Woodward Martin’s beliefs and craft. Martin is perhaps best known as a scholar and performer of the pioneering African American poet Paul Laurence Dunbar’s works— performances that he’s taken as far west as Chaminade University in Hawaii and as far east as The Alexandrine Library in Egypt. He's also the celebrated author of eight volumes of poetry. In this program, Martin will both demystify verse and praise its virtues. First, he will give an impromptu demonstration of how to write a poem using words supplied by the audience. Then he will discuss the legacy of the Dayton born Paul Laurence Dunbar. Dunbar only lived thirty-three short years, barely glimpsing the dawn of the twentieth century, but his verses have proved enormously influential. Martin will perform some of these pieces, blurring the line between recitation and full-throated song. Any skeptics who might be in the audience will have the dust blown off their preconceptions when they are confronted by the power, rhythm and humanity contained in a sequence of mere words, read with conviction and unabashed reverence. This is a program that you simply must witness. Books will be available for sale and signing at the event.
Thursday, April 17 at 7:00 p.m. in the Main Library Auditorium
Water’s Footfall: The Poetry of Sohrab Sepehri
Presented by Dr. Mohammad Jafar Mahallati
Sohrab Sepehri was born in 1928 on a journey between Kashan, his family's home, and Qum. An acclaimed painter, Sepehri published eight books of poetry during his lifetime and traveled widely throughout the world, including Europe, South Asia, the Middle East, China and Japan, the United States and South America. Many of his poems were influenced by his relationship with nature and his studies of Eastern philosophy and visual arts. They were often composed in a cadence similar to spoken language, considered a radical innovation at the time. Sepehri died in 1980 and in Iran is considered to be one of the most important poets of the twentieth century. Pierre Joris described Sepheri as, “a modernist Muslim for whom the black stone of the Kaaba was the sunlight in the flowers. He tried to invent a world in poetry and a poetry in the world as had not been seen since the Nishapur of Omar Khayyam. He made it new, indeed—writing a poetry that is a geometry of breath from which music grows, with its cargo of light.” Mohammad Jafar Mahallati, one of Sepheri’s English translators, is currently Presidential Scholar in Islamic Studies at Oberlin College. He served as Iran's ambassador to the United Nations from 1987 to 1989 and successfully negotiated a peace agreement to end the war between Iran and Iraq. His scholarship has focused on Islamic and Sufi poetry and most recently on the philosophy of friendship. Books will be available for sale and signing at the event.
Wednesday, April 23 at 7:00 p.m. in the Main Library Auditorium
Weather by Dave Lucas
In this debut collection, named winner of the Ohioana Book Prize in 2012, Dave Lucas turns and returns to Cleveland. The weather he writes about arises from the lush light of the natural world and the hard rain of industry. Poem by poem, Lucas surveys the majesty and ruin of landscape and lakefront, paying tribute to the shifting seasons of a city, of a terrain, and of those who dwell there. “I love our weather. There's always a moment in the winter when I'm sick of it and a moment sooner in the summer. But I love the steel look to the sky in winter. It makes our few days of crystal blue in spring and fall all the more worthwhile. I use the word weather as a verb. This city is weathering the storm. The town has been beaten down, but many Clevelanders take that as a point of pride. Like the coffee mugs say, ‘Cleveland: You gotta be tough.’” Books will be available for sale and signing at the event.
Wednesday, April 30 at 7:00 p.m. in the Main Library Auditorium
A Lyrical Life: Reflections on Life-Journeys through Poetry and Song
Presented by Rabbi Enid Lader
Explore your own life journey through poetry in this four-week program presented by Case Western Reserve University. The roads upon which you've traveled are marked by steps still to be taken. Rabbi Enid Lader will lead a discussion of poetry and song that beckons us to reflect on what it means to think of our lives as a journey and how the text of our lives reflects our values. We will explore the questions of what we want to pass on to the next generation and what is in store for us in the future. Rabbi Enid C. Lader has served the Beth Israel -The West Temple congregation since August, 2012. Active in the Educational Director's Network, Enid also served in various capacities on the regional board for the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (now the Union for Reform Judaism) and has taught the west side Taste of Judaism and Feast of Judaism classes for the Jewish Education Center of Cleveland for over twelve years.
Thursdays at 7:00 p.m. in the Main Library AuditoriumApril 24, May 1, May 8, May 15
15425 Detroit Avenue