Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Photo Gallery of Cleveland Poetry Scene and Bottom Dog Press

Enjoy these images from the Cleveland Poetry Scene courtesy of Bottom Dog Press and Jim Lang's art. We are a diverse and vital scene with deep connections to the people.
Larry Smith

Monday, December 29, 2008

Elizabeth Alexander to read at inauguration

This just in
from the poetry and politics department. Elizabeth Alexander, a poet, essayist, playwright, and teacher, has been selected to read a poem at Barack Obama's inauguration. Read a story about the selection here. I'm hoping that this choice is better than the selection of Rick Warren to give the invocation. While I'm not familiar with Alexander, she is the author of four books of poems, The Venus Hottentot, Body of Life, Antebellum Dream Book, and American Sublime, which was one of three finalists for the 2005 Pulitzer Prize. She is also a scholar of African-American literature and culture and recently published a collection of essays, The Black Interior.

She has read her work across the U.S. and in Europe, the Caribbean, and South America, and her poetry, short stories, and critical prose have been published in dozens of periodicals and anthologies. She has received many grants and honors, most recently the Alphonse Fletcher, Sr. Fellowship for work that “contributes to improving race relations in American society and furthers the broad social goals of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision of 1954,” and the 2007 Jackson Prize for Poetry, awarded by Poets and Writers. She is a professor at Yale University, and for the academic year 2007-2008 she is a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University.

I enjoyed the poem On the Pulse of the Morning, that Maya Angelou read at Bill Clinton's first inauguration. Maybe Alexander can top it. Question: Do you think it's any coincidence that only democrats select a poet to read at presidential inaugurations?

Friday, December 26, 2008

Blind Review Friday

Blind Review Friday.

The author shall remain anonymous (unless they chose to divulge themselves in the comments.)

Those commenting are also welcome to remain anonymous if they wish.

Incendiary comments will be removed.

If you would like your piece thrown to the wolves send it to with "Workshop the hell out of this poem" as the subject line.

This weeks submission comes from a Clevelandpoetics - The Blog reader.

Giant Eagle

At the grocery store this morning
7 of the 8 cashier lanes collected money
in slots, key codes, the hand jive
of recession thank yous
printed on receipts waiting
for customer hands to pull them
before they bag groceries
bumping against the rails.

I walk to row 8, an all gray
man with warm hands and a smile
is afraid to pause for small talk.

Outside, stars and stripes
hang from a pole. On the ground
a silver eagle covered in tire tracks.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Happy Holidays from Clevelandpoetics - the Blog

Christ climbed down
from His bare Tree
this year
and ran away to where
there were no rootless Christmas trees
hung with candycanes and breakable stars

Christ climbed down
from His bare Tree
this year
and ran away to where
there were no gilded Christmas trees
and no tinsel Christmas trees
and no tinfoil Christmas trees
and no pink plastic Christmas trees
and no gold Christmas trees
and no black Christmas trees
and no powderblue Christmas trees
hung with electric candles
and encircled by tin electric trains
and clever cornball relatives

Christ climbed down
from His bare Tree
this year
and ran away to where
no intrepid Bible salesmen
covered the territory
in two-tone cadillacs
and where no Sears Roebuck creches
complete with plastic babe in manger
arrived by parcel post
the babe by special delivery
and where no televised Wise Men
praised the Lord Calvert Whiskey

Christ climbed down
from His bare Tree
this year
and ran away to where
no fat handshaking stranger
in a red flannel suit
and a fake white beard
went around passing himself off
as some sort of North Pole saint
crossing the desert to Bethlehem
in a Volkswagen sled
drawn by rollicking Adirondack reindeer
and German names
and bearing sacks of Humble Gifts
from Saks Fifth Avenue
for everybody's imagined Christ child

Christ climbed down
from His bare Tree
this year
and ran away to where
no Bing Crosby carollers
groaned of a tight Christmas
and where no Radio City angels
iceskated wingless
thru a winter wonderland
into a jinglebell heaven
daily at 8:30
with Midnight Mass matinees

Christ climbed down
from His bare Tree
this year
and softly stole away into
some anonymous Mary's womb again
where in the darkest night
of everybody's anonymous soul
He awaits again
an unimaginable
and impossibly
Immaculate Reconception
the very craziest of
Second Comings

Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Feel free to post your own holiday offering.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

NEO Poet Field Guide

Full Name:
Robert Miltner

Born mid-century when Mao finished the Long March and Modernism turned Post-

Ohio: Canton as Epicenter

Akron, Kent, Cleveland, Ohio, Midwest, US, Olympic peninsula, Canada, Mexico, Paris, the universe cities

Raymond Carver, James Jesus Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, the modernists, Irish writers forever, Tamas Dobozy, all my poet friends in Cleveland and Akron and Columbus and beyond, writers who write for peace or social justice which are the same thing, Raymond Carver’s poetry too!

Distinguishing Marks:
Fellow Traveler (Pudding House, 2007), Canyons of Sleep (Plan B Press, 2006), Rock the Boat (All Nations Press, 2005), Northcoast, Ohio (Spare Change Press, 2005), Marc Snyder: In Black and White (Kent State University Stark, 2005), Greatest Hits (Pudding House, 2004), Me: An Autobiography (Fiji Island Mermaid Press, 2004), A Box of Light (Pudding House, 2002), Four Crows on a Phone Line. With Neil Carpathios, Frank Kooistra, and David McCoy (Spare Change Press, 2002), Ghost of a Chance. With Carolyn Fraser, Gwen Cooper, and Wendy Collin Sorin (Zygote Press/Idlewild Press, 2001), On the Off-Ramp (Implosion Press, 1996), Against the Simple (Kent State University Press, 1995),
The Seamless Serial Hour (Pudding House, 1993)

tv, radio, administratium (a toxic element), people who don’t really want to listen, the corporatization of universities

Prey: bookstores, hardback first editions, idealistic students, beginning writers, quiet, the thrilling alienation of travel, Lisa, spring in Ohio, a whole day to write


Aren’t All Poems about Death?

A new television set, cartoon shows about metallic robots,
my imaginary dog, the Rocky River valley with its gar and

salamanders: each a delay until I could go to school and
learn to decode the hieroglyphics of words, read the bold

headlines screaming from The Cleveland Plain Dealer.
One morning in just-September, and when I was of age,

my mother walked me to the parish elementary school.
I could see myself looking back from storefront windows

of Five & Dimes and Mom & Pops on Puritas Avenue.
When my mother said, We’re here, I looked up, ahead.

But I saw neither the school, nor the church; I saw only
a small iron fenced-in graveyard with its dozen crooked,

pale tombstones. I caught my breath and held it. Then
I cried for my life. This was not what I wanted to read.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Blind Review Friday

Blind Review Friday.

The author shall remain anonymous (unless they chose to divulge themselves in the comments.)

Those commenting are also welcome to remain anonymous if they wish.

Incendiary comments will be removed.

If you would like your piece thrown to the wolves send it to with "Workshop the hell out of this poem" as the subject line.

This weeks submission comes from a Clevelandpoetics - The Blog reader.


She watches from the east window with despicable eyes
sending forth loud, dark caws...

Wherefore art thou?...

I am kin to the insurgent pundit,
half the life of the traitorous shrew...
...and I am not a Capulet,
but she wonders wherefore.

The drumming of her disapproval
resounds above the band,
daring me to go on
royally snubbed.

The queen is wincing...
contorted with wincing...
sick with green plaque in the hull of her romance...
But I go on pretending not to see.
Blind to the face of life unlived
perched in a towering place of spite.

Weary of adagio stumbling
and piercing eyes that dagger.
Dazed and confused by the contradictions
of love unloving.
She shakes her head with dramatic exaggerations
and I grow just a little bit weaker.
Weeping inward like wilting ferns.
Brown edged and sun-burned.
Void of strength to face one so skilled to scorn.

Skilled by natural instinct that accommodates neglect.

Dare to dance beneath the rain of hate
and shower of pelting resentment?
I can see her...
Saw the exact moment her smile fled the scene of my impune infraction...
the same moment I waxed internal
and turned my unsung affections to songs.

She so loudly wonders why
when I rend the veil of my mysteries
and the masses come running.

They come clamoring in
with no refusal of truth
and they, the gathering witnesses, applaud
while she, in maddening heat, hurls stones from her cloud.

Face turned away,
she is so shamefully moved that she wails with disappointment.

Looking to behold her faded beauty,
I find her revolted by her crowning king
and I whisper...


Come down from the seat of your heaven.

And Just....


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Call for poets

The Acoustic Garden/One Love Ink
is assisting in the planning of an event produced by UnderGroundKweens2U. They hold special poetry events monthly at The Underground [formerly Club 75] located at 75 Public Square in downtown Cleveland. This is a "White/Chocolate" affair. Meaning we are reaching for Diversity in culture. We are looking for features to do fifteen minute spots. Male and Female, both cultures. At the same time, we are looking for about 8 poets who will read 1 or 2 poems max. The criteria for your poem is that is must revolve around Love. Person to Person, or Person to God. Erotica is most definitely welcomed as well, presented tastefully. In addition, we are seeking 2 painters/sketch artists who would like to create a work of art from the perspective of the mood of the night as displayed from the stage, or received by the audience. You will have two (2) hours to prepare your interpretation. There will be a silent auction with the proceeds going to you for your work, less a percentage donation which will go to the charity[ies] that are going to be involved, such as The Lupus Foundation which they support. Because of the timeframe we need to hear from you as soon as possible. If you are interested as a poet, please submit a sample of your work [written or recorded] to NeoSouljah at If as an artist, the same would be appreciated or a link to your website so that we can see your craft. The deadline to submit is Friday, December 26, 2008. I'm looking forward to hearing from you. I know from perusing your pages, reading your books, and being a part of this group that there are some prolific artists on here, and we are excited about bringing the cultures together for a night of entertainment and enlightenment. Ticket sales will be announced after we secure the featured poets. The night will be filled with poetry and other arts at their best [music, dance, photography]. Singles are welcomed too! Don't stay home without a date. Enjoy the sandwiches, chocolate dipped fruits, and treat yourself to a massage.....More info to come! One Love, The Acoustic Garden UnderGroundKweens2U One Love Ink

Friday, December 12, 2008

Blind Review Friday

Blind Review Friday.

The author shall remain anonymous (unless they chose to divulge themselves in the comments.)

Those commenting are also welcome to remain anonymous if they wish.

Incendiary comments will be removed.

If you would like your piece thrown to the wolves send it to with "Workshop the hell out of this poem" as the subject line.

Last week's poem "Keeping Things Whole" was written by Mark Strand - former US poet laureate from his collection "Sleeping With One Eye Open" published in 1964

This week's selection is a Clevelandpoetics - the Blog reader's submission:

The Gilded Window

The moonless night was dark as sin
The wind wailed high and low
The trees screeched in exotic pain
The old man at his bed lay thin

By his side sat his loyal wife
She had served him well and good
They loved so as only the old could
It was the end of a well lived life

They looked outside the gilded window
That together they loved very much
In their own ways: he loved her face aglow
Whenever she looked out in the snow

It recalled the steel his youth was made of
For he gilded it in Chinese calligraphy:
It was her wish quite plebeian
In days when they hadn't enough

The Chinese, which she did not get
Which all these years 'Love' she read
She asked him at his death-bed; said:
"Do tell me now, I haven't figured it yet."

With aching effort, he looked out in the glen
In his baritone spoke to her one last time:
"Dorothy, I don't remember the meaning
For after a point in time, all was overwritten

In the chest of my heart where
I have locked away many a thing
Must give it wings now; outside the window
It can fly on the wings of the winter air

In the spring of youth, it meant, 'liaison'
And have mused and sung different meaning
In different seasons of our life
Now, in this winter weaning
It's call is compelling, evermore;
It says loud and clear: 'Defenestration'".

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Bertram Woods Reading 12-10-08

R.A. Washington and Terry Provost
Poetry Back in The Woods
Shaker Heights Public Library

It was like a surreal newscast - in a good way.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

NEO Poet Field Guide

Full name: Ben Gulyas

Age: I suppose one has to ask something.

Habitat: In my mind.

Range: My treehouse room over the garage where the Spider Barks , and the piles of flotsam have risen to the Valley of the Kings. This could be true of any person in any quarter, who lacking certain principles of order, then finds themselves situated sublimely on the upwelling of their accumulations.

Diet: Favorites will fail you. Check the weather each night and smell the wind, the evolving being will devour multitudes, though they may rely on a diet of roots.

Distinguishing Markings: Stripes and spots smeared with mud & the blue whale of sunset.

Predators: Myself.

Prey: Myself.


…”a scattering of birds at 6am their nest of voices weaving in the cold,
a tear shed amidst the shattering of glass,
the pollywog bull strumming the ripple…
the pollywog bull strumming the ripple-…
toes cold--
merciless instinct waking from the mud--
the face of everything off-tune,
whistling to the feather and the egg,
the mud worm and the seed devouring pulp and bugs,
the corner ledge, the nest, the damp night,
the knuckle and the course arthritic brick
waiting to reach out, waiting to get smacked back--
what does a bird care, blue or speckled,
throat full of flight--
the smell of petroleum drifting…
…a passing life—“

Contact info: I’m around here and there, yet rarely seen.

Friday, December 5, 2008

great er cleveland poetry take two

if Cleveland
wants to pull together for an area-wide poetry festival (i am a fan of the name Dick Goddard suggested, “Lake Effect”), here is an unhoned vision of how it could go.

two days, probably a Saturday and Sunday, preferable when warm outside.

schedule readings all over the place: bookstores, parks, libraries, taverns. some of the readings would have bands behind the poets. some could be round robin, or as the Bukowski hosted by Suzanne of Mac’s this October went: a poet reads from where they are, when the poet before them finishes. essentially, we would need several people to volunteer to host or MC an event. that volunteer chooses a venue, and works out a time with that venue. Then, rather than choosing familiar poets, the bill for each venue can be chosen not so much at random, but with an eye to diversity.
i.e. so at CSU it would not be all CSU poets, but a couple CSUs and say, a Lit Cafe goer, with a Sandusky poet. this way poets meet poets they may not have brushed arms with, you get the gist.

these hosts would then give their time slot to me, and i would put it on the “official” schedule. as slots are filled, the remaining hosts would need to work around that schedule.

i propose having TOO MANY readings for anyone to feasibly attend all of them. and to have them in SEVERAL areas of town. imagine too much poesy! i think we can count on the likes of John Burroughs and Jim Lang to take candid shots and write up the events they make it to, so we all get a gist of what we missed.

i volunteer to coordinate with the hosts/MCs, create the weekend schedule, write a press release and get it to the appropriate people in the media. i can also craft a flyer and delegate folks to get a copy to various libraries, coffee shops and bookstores.

think about it---i can list several “schools” of poetry to feature, but cannot think of all of them. there is the Cleveland Poetry Scenes book to promote, along with the new Peace Poems book by Bottom Dog, in which are several local poets. Cleveland Black Poetics puts on a moving show. a haiku—a “true haiku” reading certainly is in order! there’s Deep Cleveland Poets, JCU poets, CSU poets. someone could have a walking reading through University Circle, stopping at the various Hart Crane memorials. i have my …uncouth and yet so full of sweet irony class clown poets in my ‘independent’ arena. there are hipsters, and old schools, natures and slammers and hip hops. but it would be up to each poet to get themselves and the poets they commune with on-board so this can be as all-inclusive as possible.

Ok, so, who doesn’t like Lake Effect? (i do i do i do)

Blind Review Friday

Blind Review Friday.

The author shall remain anonymous (unless they chose to divulge themselves in the comments.)

Those commenting are also welcome to remain anonymous if they wish.

Incendiary comments will be removed.

If you would like your piece thrown to the wolves send it to with "Workshop the hell out of this poem" as the subject line.

This week's blind review is not a reader submission although the author did graduate from Antioch College. I was recently re-acquainted with this poem while reading a book on educational theory by Maxine Green. She used it to end an essay about the importance of incompleteness. She is not the author, we'll reveal that info next Friday.

Sometimes it seems we try so hard to get everything into a piece that we leave no room for the reader's imagination. Another pedagogical text I read stated that one reason to use poetry in the classroom was that it forced the consumer to infer. Can you look at your own work and say this? As Ray Bradbury said, “Put two and two on the page – but don’t add it up for the reader.”

Keeping Things Whole

In a field
I am the absence
of field.
This is
always the case.
Wherever I am
I am what is missing.

When I walk
I part the air
and always
the air moves in
to fill the spaces
where my body's been.

We all have reasons
for moving.
I move
to keep things whole.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

great er cleveland poetry


so it was suggested to me there be a Greater Cleveland Area Poets Festival...
a fairly inclusive gathering of all walks of verse. now typical of this town is to name a 'fest' after a dead poet, giving us all an excuse to party like rockstars.

but i don't think honoring the dead is the only way to go. (in fact, peers of mine sorta laugh it up because they want to know what dead guy we are currently upholding with our own relevant voices).

in May Green Panda has up its sleeve three days of poetry and music...
but many (most?) on the bill are coming here from faraway. and certainly, the poets who will read their work do not cover the Great lake of us. in fact they are mainly indy poets who deal in (very) small presses.

is there a "reason" or theme for gathering the wildly diverse voices which does not point to the deceased, albeit desrving all our honor?

is it possible to throw a few days party that would not exclude a well-tuned voice?

it would be pretty awesome if Cleveland got it together for say a semi-annual shindig with a really cool name. sure some folks from out of town could be featured, so they could brag to their cronies, i read in CLEVELAND for their semi-anny.

i am beginning to think if there's a Name there's a way...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Dog - Ku

underestimate the value of being clever.

Now I am not exactly certain why – but the subject of haikus seems to get everyone going around here. It’s like bringing up politics at the thanksgiving dinner table – everyone has an opinion and there just may be some mashed potatoes headed for the side of your melon if you’re not diplomatic enough.

Well, a friend of mine in Ann Arbor Steve Marsh (they used to have a football team attached to a school up there somewhere I think) has pegged the meter on the cleverness scale by publishing a book of Dog Ku. Haiku (at least the 5-7-5 variety – you guys can battle this one out) written by dogs.

So are these ditties sanctioned by the all supreme Haiku Arbitration Institute of the Known Universe and adjacent dimensions? Probably not. But they are clever and fun and definitely possess that “why didn’t I think of this” envy that sprouts whenever we are gob smacked with an obviously good idea.

Now I happen to know if you deal directly with Mr. Marsh – he can get you a discount along with a signed copy. E-mail him at:

Tell him I sent ya.

Dog-ku: Very Clever Haikus Cleverly Written by Very Clever Dogs
by Steve D. Marsh
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Pub. Date: October 2008
ISBN-13: 9780312377144

Here’s a couple Dog Kus for ya:

All day I sniff butts.
I come home to celebrate
By kissing your face


The paperboy comes.
He wants to murder us all!
Bark! Bark! Bark! Bark!

A great stocking stuffer for that near clinical dog lover on your list.


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