Tuesday, April 20, 2021

The Ohio Poetry Association Launches a New Podcast

The Ohio Poetry Association presents a new podcast hosted by Cleveland area poet Jeremy Jusek. Poetry Spotlight "interviews active Ohio poets. Each episode goes in a different direction based on our guest, but the goal is always the same: investigate what makes Buckeye writers tick. Inspiration, projects, and perspectives on writing are all on the table." A new episode every other Thursday! Click here for more info.

Follow the Ohio Poetry Association:

Facebook / Twitter
Become a member.

Friday, April 16, 2021

Write the Beats with Ray McNiece

From Cleveland Heights Poet Laureate Ray McNiece:

Write the Beats

A Workshop of Beat Writer Prompts

Beat era poets have had a profound influence on modern culture and mores as well as contemporary poeticsin particular performance poetry. Write the Beats is a workshop of Beat poetry prompts: Each of the six weeks will use a prompt based on a poem by a prominent beat era poet: Ginsberg, Snyder, Ferlinghetti, DiPrima, Kaufman and Kerouac. Prompts will explore themes of political poetry/identity, environmentalism, feminist poetry, surrealism, and spontaneous bop prosody. We will also look at works by Baraka, Waldman, and Corso for the poetry of rebellion, beat spirituality and neo romanticism.

Online via Zoom on Thursdays from 6pm-8pm April 22-May 27th

Register to receive the zoom link and class instructions. https://www.litcleveland.org/classes-workshops/write-the-beats-a-workshop-of-beat-poetry-prompts


Ray McNiece is the author of nine books of poems and monologues, most recently Love Song for Cleveland, a collaboration with photographer Tim Lachina, and Breath Burns Away: New Haiku. He toured Russia with Yevgeny Yevtushenko. He also toured Italy twice with legendary beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti and was writer in residence at the Kerouac House in Orlando, Florida.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Poetry month, featuring 30 Days of Poetry!


National Poetry Month graphic

Once again, it's April with his shoures soote (in this case, snow showers). And that means once again it's National Poetry Month. And, once again, Laurie Kincer of the Cuyahoga County Public library has put together Thirty Days of Poetry, featuring a poem from a Northeastern Ohio Poet, and a poetry prompt, delivered right into your inbox every day this month.

Laurie writes:

Hello, poets!


I hope you’re signed up to receive Read + Write: 30 Days of Poetry, Cuyahoga County Public Library’s National Poetry Month blog. Every day in April, you’ll receive a poem by a poet who lives, works, or has some important tie to northeast Ohio; a poetry writing prompt to try; and a poetry book to check out of the library. Here’s a sample of the daily blog and the link to sign up for it. 


You’re also invited to these special poetry workshops:


And, of course, these regular, monthly gatherings of poets:


Happy National Poetry Month to you and yours!

...and if that's not enough for you, check out Michelle R. Smith's blog, "Forcing Bulbs", where she is posting a poetry prompt every day in celebration of NaPoWriMo.  Start with Day One.

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Remembering Ben Rader (1947-2021)

I met Ben Rader for the first time at a reading Larry Smith hosted at Joe Sundae's in Sandusky in 2008. I immediately liked him. Since then, I've run into him at probably a hundred open mic venues across the state including right here in Cleveland, where he was born, and it was always good to hear and talk with and learn from him. Ben was known as a master of the haiku form, but was accomplished in a wide array of other poetic forms as well. And he was always generous with his time and knowledge. 

Here is a brief clip I recorded of Ben on the occasion of our first meeting:


Sadly, Ben passed away near the end of February following a battle with Covid-19. Our deepest condolences go out to his wife Willa and the rest of his family and everyone who loved him.

A celebration of Ben's life will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, March 7, 2021 at the Norwalk Masonic Hall, 319 E. Main St, Norwalk, OH 44857.

Read his obituary in the Norwalk Reflector: https://norwalkreflector.com/news/306098/bennett-james-rader/.

And here's one more short clip from that day in Sandusky:


Wednesday, March 3, 2021

March 4th: Heights Arts Live Streams Ekphrastacy

From our friends at Heights Arts....

Join us March 4th for a special live stream of our Ekphrastacy program!

The Ekphrastacy literary program is a series of artist talks + poetry readings held regularly in the Heights Arts gallery (when possible), in conjunction with our special exhibitions.

Cleveland-area writers are invited by the current Poet Laureate to view the installed artworks and respond with a poem.

To accommodate to this year's special circumstances, we are presenting the Ekphrastic event through a Facebook live stream. Tune in on Thursday, March 4th to view poets Kisha Foster, Ray McNiece, Josiah Quarles, and Michelle R. Smith present poems they wrote in response to work in our current exhibition Posing the Question at our space on Lee Road.

All poets were selected by Cleveland Heights Poet Laureate, Ray McNiece.


Streaming Information:

Date / Time:
Thursday, March 4th at 7 PM ET


Heights Arts' Facebook
Heights Arts' Website

Learn more on the Heights Arts website.

More Information

Thursday, February 25, 2021

What's Up with Ray McNiece?

Jordan Davis, for CoolCleveland, catches up with Cleveland Heights Poet Laureate Ray McNiece "as he reflects on his travels, current projects and passing the torch to future poets of all ages...."


And check out Ray's online poetry workshops. More details at RayMcNiece.com.

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Virtual Valentine's Day reading

 Laurie Kincer writes:

Dear poets,


Here’s a special gift for you on Valentine’s Day: Honey Bell-Bey, Cuyahoga County Poet Laureate, is the featured reader at tomorrow’s Second Sunday Poets. A spoken word poet, Ms. Bell-Bey has been in the news frequently over the years as the founder and director of The Distinguished Gentlemen, a poetry recitation and performance group for young men ages 12-21.


Register here to receive a Zoom link at 2 p.m. for the 3 p.m. eventSecond Sunday Poets - Cuyahoga County Public Library (cuyahogalibrary.org)


Bring one or two of your own poems to read during the open mic, with the suggested theme of love (keeping it PG-rated). You’re also welcome just to tune in to listen.


Stay well and warm,



Laurie Kincer

Writing Specialist


Cuyahoga County Public Library

South Euclid-Lyndhurst Branch

William N. Skirball Writers' Center

1876 South Green Road / South Euclid, OH 44121     

216.382.4880 / 216.382.4584


Cuyahoga County Public Library

Administrative Offices                                               

2111 Snow Road / Parma, OH 44134     

216.749.9309 / 216.485.9851



Photo credit: Adrian Hood

Sunday, January 24, 2021

"Cleveland Poets See Amanda Gorman's Words As 'Tools' To Teach"

Cuyahoga County Poet Laureate Honey Bell-Bey
celebrating Vice President Kamala Harris with students
at Wade Elementary School on Inauguration Day. [Honey Bell-Bey]

Read the full article by Jenny Hamel at ideastream®.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

The Bookshop Podcast features Mac's Backs and Larry Smith

This week on The Bookshop Podcast, host Mandy Jackson-Beverly talks to northern Ohio lit icons Suzanne DeGaetano of Mac's Backs Books on Coventry and Larry Smith of Bottom Dog Press:

Listen on Spotify, Podcast Addict, PlayerFM or BuzzSprout.

Mac's Backs: www.macsbacks.com

Larry Smith: https://smithdocs.net/LarrySmithHomepage.htm

Sunday, January 10, 2021

The City, January 2021


artwork by smith
art by smith

It's been far too long since we've seen a new issue of The City, Lady Smith's 'zine of art and poetry, but here it is, the January 2021 issue!

"I’m interested in the concept of the city as center of culture. The city is a symbol of the womb, of civilization, of collected human experience. The city is something that is very old. The city is something holy. The city is something natural. The city is something akin to a coral colony. The city is a legitimate human function. The city means that we have moved beyond subsistence and into something more collective. Rather than being estranged from the land, the city is dependent on the land."

Monday, January 4, 2021

George Saunders Thinks Social Media Is Killing Us

I find it interesting that I encountered this interview with Lincoln in the Bardo author George Saunders shortly after I began my January social media hiatus. 

"There’s something wonderful about the spontaneity of social media, but I think at this point it’s becoming 100% toxic for people to be firing off the top of their brains. One of the things [my new] book says is that the deeper parts of our brain are actually more empathic. If you revise something 20 times, for a mysterious reason, it becomes more social, empathic and compassionate. With Chekhov, you feel he’s always saying: “Well, what else?”, “Is there anything else I should know?”, or “Maybe I’m wrong.” And all of that seems to be designed to foster love, or at least some kind of relation to the other that’s got possibility. So I’m not a fan of social media. I’m not on it. And I won’t be, because I think it’s killing us, actually. I really do."

Read the rest of what Saunders has to say in The Guardian.

And you can pre-order his new book, A Swim in a Pond in the Rain: In Which Four Russians Give a Master Class on Writing, Reading, and Life, from Mac's Backs.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Twelve Literary Arts Plays Instrumental Role in Development of E. 66th St. Project

Daniel Gray-Kontar
"...Twelve Literary Arts serves as a nurturing ecosystem for young writers of color, helping develop their creative writing skills from age 14 until mid-career. Open mic poetry events, writing workshops, poetry slams and internships are among the offerings...."

Read the whole story in The Land:

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Lake Erie Ink founder looks back on 10 years of fostering youth creativity

"Ten years ago, English teachers Amy Rosenbluth and Cynthia Larsen saw a need to emphasize the importance of writing skills and creativity to area youth. The two met, realized they had similar visions and Lake Erie Ink was born in 2010...."

Read the rest in FreshWater Cleveland.

Twitter: @LakeErieInk
Instagram: @erie.ink
Facebook: Lake Erie Ink

Monday, December 7, 2020

Baldwin House Urban Writing Residency 2021 - Submissions Open

The 2021 submission period for Twelve Literary Arts' Baldwin House Urban Writing Residency for NE Ohio writers is now open. For more information about Baldwin House or to apply visit their Submittable page.

Facebook: Twelve Arts
Instagram: @twelvelitarts

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Be Part of Lit Cleveland's 2020 Celebration of Northeast Ohio Writers

From our friends at Literary Cleveland:

* * * * *


2020 has been a long year and boy do we need good news now more than ever. That is why we are kicking off our second annual Celebration of Northeast Ohio Writers!

We want to hear it all! What you've published this year, whether it was a full book or just an individual poem, story, or essay. Did you win any writing contests? Any other good news? Let us know!

All you have to do is give us the information about your writing achievements in the past year via this form: https://forms.gle/DbqbSLWEudE6XEs67. Then we will publish our Celebration the last week of December, through our newsletter and on social media. This is one more way we are creating a vibrant literary community, by letting everyone know how active, involved and amazing our Northeast Ohio writers are.

So please let us know about your accomplishments in the past 12 months using this form: https://forms.gle/DbqbSLWEudE6XEs67. Also, let others know about our Celebration so they can participate!

* * * * *

Learn more about Literary Cleveland at

Follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

America 2020, In Vision and Verse

"It’s been a year unlike any other in living memory. We selected five poems by contemporary American poets and asked five photographers to let the poems inspire them...." Read more in The New York Times:


Sunday, October 25, 2020

Cat Russell and the End of Days: An Interview

Cat Russell is a northeast Ohio writer whose first book I had the honor of publishing last year through Crisis Chronicles Press. Recently, she has also provided invaluable assistance keeping our Cleveland Poetics literary event calendar [see above] up to date. Now Cat has a brand new book out through Venetian Spider Press, and I wanted to talk with her about it.
JB: Thank you so much for agreeing to a brief interview for the Cleveland Poetics blog. Tell me a little about your new book, An Optimist's Journal of the End of Days and Other Stories. Was the title inspired by the Covid-19 pandemic?

Cat Russell: No, it wasn't, although present circumstances certainly make it seem that way! My book is actually a collection of my favorite short stories, mostly flash fiction, that I've written over the past thirteen years.

The title is taken from the first story in the book, which was inspired by the fact that I actually do keep a "Favorite Things" journal. The idea behind the practice is to help you focus on things you appreciate each day, and
as you can imaginewhen things aren't going so well, it's harder to find good things to fill those pages. So I started wondering what I would write in the event of an apocalyptic event.

JB: Well, it certainly feels a bit prescient. One of the many things I find interesting about your book is that it is printed in a font that makes it appear as though it was all written on a typewriter. To me, this makes it all feel more intimate, like I'm getting to read a private manuscript of yours that no one else gets to read. Whose idea was this, yours or your publisher's?

Cat Russell: I always use Courier New font when I'm turning in a manuscript, because of the monospacing. I also have a second reason that's more personal: I use a typewriter-style keyboard, so the aesthetics appeals to me. But my publisher decided to keep the font in the finished book, which I think works really well with the mottled journal-style cover; it gives the impression that each story inside is a journal entry typed on an old fashioned typewriter. In fact, Venetian Spider Press, especially William F. DeVault, deserves full credit for how beautifully the finished product came out!

JB: 2020 has been a tough year for small presses and for authors with new books coming out. Most events have had to be either cancelled, moved to 2021 or conducted online. I know when your previous book, Soul Picked Clean, was released last year you did an impressive array of readings, signings and book fairs around northeast Ohio. How are you adapting with your new book? What are your plans when it comes to An Optimist's Journal of the End of Days and Other Stories?

Cat Russell: I have looked into readings at different libraries and other venues for when restrictions ease and people feel safer gathering for events, but in the meantime I'm mostly doing online events. Last month I read some stories for SpoFest Poetry & Prose, and I also shared my unboxing video online when I received my author copies. I made my readings from other events available on my YouTube channel and promoted on Patreon and social media.

My biggest event that I have planned for 2020 though is Halloween-themed. On Friday, Oct 30th I'm doing a joint reading with three other authors called the "Spooky BOOKtacular." James Bryant, the host of SpoFest, will kick the event off at 7pm EST, and then I will pick up the baton at 7:30, followed by horror writers Faryl (8:30) and S.T. Hoover (9:30). It's set up like a blog tour, but for FaceBook Live, so people can join by clicking the individual event link for each author, with 15 minute breaks between readings. Since so many authors I know can't do a traditional book launch this year, this seemed like a fun way for us to mutually promote and support each other.

I also have some tentative things lined up for later in the year, but I'm honestly not sure how things will work out for any in-person events. I would like to do some online holiday sales though. Since the book has a lot of stories in different genres, I think it would make a nice gift for other bibliophiles of pretty much any taste.

JB: I look forward to the Spooky BOOKtacular! Thank you again, Cat, for agreeing to this interview. It's always a pleasure to chat with you. Is there anything else that you'd like to add before we sign off?

Cat Russell: Thank you so much for this opportunity! I really appreciate it, and I hope everyone is getting through these difficult times as best they can.

I know it can feel lonely with all the social distancing and event cancellations, especially for those of us who get our energy and inspiration from being around others, so it's nice to know we can reach out to each other online or even with just the phone. This is such a supportive community, I'm very thankful to be a part of it. And it's a pleasure talking to you too!

# # # # #

Don't forget to tune into the
Spooky BOOKtacular on October 30th 2020.

Buy a signed copy of An Optimist's Journal of the End of Days and Other Stories direct from the author: https://www.paypal.com/paypalme/authorcatrussell ($29.95 and please be sure to include your mailing address).

And for more Cat Russell, check out these links:

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Cat-Russell/e/B00BL6DMYI
Cat's Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/authorcatrussell
Writing Blog: https://catrussellwriter.wordpress.com/
Personal Twitter: http://twitter.com/ganymeder
Author Twitter: http://twitter.com/THECatRussell
Author Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/authorcatrussell


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