Friday, December 31, 2010

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 offering is from a Clevelandpoetics the Blog contributor.

Finding Shelter

Wild gusts shook the house last night, crashing
at the windows as though the bungalow were floundering
on a turbulent sea, and I dreamed I was protecting my father
making the violent wind abate, giving him a place of calm.
I did not greet him in my dream; I could not see his face,
or feel his wiry hand on mine. I did not hear his voice or
the touch of his laughter, yet he was there, the uneven rhythm
of his breathing, his realization of this life, his constant presence
that is always there, whether he is or not, and I awoke
feeling differently but knowing I had always felt the same.
Moving into the day, the solid ground beneath my feet,
with each step an echo of gratitude.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Holidays from CPtB

A Visit from St. Nicholas

by Clement Clark Moore

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her ’kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;
"Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St. Nicholas too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a pedler just opening his pack.
His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle,
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night."

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Fighting Words: a Post-Xmas Poetry Frenzy 12/26

Sometmes the best presents come after Christmas. Cage-fighting poet Cameron Conaway has chosen PoetryElyria for the first stop of his tour across America before he heads to Thailand for a year. He will be joined by northern Ohio's very own Clarissa Jakobsons from 1 to 3 p.m. on Sunday December 26th during PoetryElyria at Jim's Coffeehouse and Diner, 2 Kerstetter Way in Elyria, Ohio. An open mic will precede featured performances by these two fine word artists.

Cameron Conaway was the 2007-2009 Poet-in-Residence at the University of Arizona’s MFA Creative Writing Program. He is 2-0 at 155lbs as a mixed martial arts fighter. He has trained with Renzo Gracie, the London Shootfighters and will be studying Muay Thai kickboxing in Thailand for the next year. An MMA fighter and an award-winning poet; an MMA Trainer at Gold’s Gym and a creative writing instructor for Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth; a certified personal trainer through the National Strength and Conditioning Association and a dynamic anti-bully spokesperson, Cameron is quickly becoming known worldwide as the warrior poet. Tuttle Publishing will release Cameron’s memoir Caged: Memoir of a Cage-Fighting Poet in fall 2011. Salmon Poetry will release his book of poems, Until You Make the Shore, in January 2012. The book of poems grew from his experiences teaching poetry inside an all-female juvenile detention center. For more information visit

Clarissa Jakobsons instructs various art and writing classes at Cleveland’s Cuyahoga Community College. Artist, poet, and Associate Editor of the Arsenic Lobster poetry magazine, she was featured in Paris, France at “Shakespeare and Co,” in Florida and Ohio, and she was first place winner of the Akron Art Museum 2005 New Words Competition. Publications include: Ruminate, Qarrtsiluni, Ascent Aspirations, The Yale Journal for Humanities in Medicine, DreamSeeker Magazine, and Literary Mama, to name a few. She holds a B.F.A. in Visual Arts and has exhibited paintings at Akron Art Museum and Kent State University.

Currently, she weaves unique one-of-a kind artistic books, which have been exhibited in Provincetown, Denver, and Cleveland shows. In fact, the Cleveland Museum of Art has asked that “Camille Claudel in Bardo” join the Ingalls Rare Books collection. Don't be surprised to see her kicking sandcastles and painting Provincetown dunes, climbing majestic Berkeley Hills, igniting Tai Chi poems from the towers of Notre Dame, lifting weights on Treasure Island, or walking under an Ohio crescent moon.

"Clarissa is a beacon of warmth and inspiration who writes with the intensity of Shakespeare and a passion that is wealthy with life," —Chris Crittenden, poet, and Ethics professor at University of Maine.

PoetryElyria takes place every Sunday afternoon from 1 to 3 pm at Jim's Coffeehouse and Diner in downtown Elyria, just doors away from the gorgeous East Falls Riverwalk. John Burroughs of the Lix and Kix Poetry Extravaganza will emcee.

Follow PoetryElyria on Twitter:

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

a P.U.R.P.L.E. Wednesday poetry open mic

Open mic poetry hosted by LS Royal tonight and every Wednesday from 8 to midnight at The Stage, 3400 St. Clair in Cleveland, Ohio. $5 cover. Sounds by DJ Nomadic. For more on tonight's event see their Facebook event page.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Cleveland Solstice Poetry Jam Party 12/21/2010

Ray McNiece and his infamous Tongue-in-Groove band will be hosting a solstice poetry jam party on Tuesday December 21st 2010 from 9 pm to 1 am at the Barking Spider Tavern, 11310 Juniper Road in Cleveland. Says Ray, "Tis the season, it's the longest night of the year, so let's drink every last drop of christmas ale and sing and be of good cheer, bring your solstice hymns, let's light up cleveland with our spirits!"

[photo of Marino and McNiece by John Burroughs]

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Smith and Roberts at PoetryElyria 12/19/2010

A pre-Christmas poetic alternative (or supplement, if you must) to malls, Wal-Mart and other assorted circles of shopping hell:

Two very good poets - one a strong talent giving her first featured reading, the other a Cleveland poetry and publishing legend - will appear on the same stage Sunday December 19th from 1 to 3 p.m. during PoetryElyria at Jim's Coffeehouse and Diner, 2 Kerstetter Way in Elyria, Ohio. This event will include an open mic. Local word artists, both here and at other venues, are giving you their best work absolutely free this holiday season. If you're available, please return the favor with the gift of your presence.

For more information on Sunday's PoetryElyria featuring Courtenay Roberts and Steven B. Smith, please visit our Facebook event page.


Christmas Trees by Robert Frost

Christmas Trees
by Robert Frost

A Christmas Circular Letter
The city had withdrawn into itself
And left at last the country to the country;
When between whirls of snow not come to lie
And whirls of foliage not yet laid, there drove
A stranger to our yard, who looked the city,
Yet did in country fashion in that there
He sat and waited till he drew us out
A-buttoning coats to ask him who he was.
He proved to be the city come again
To look for something it had left behind
And could not do without and keep its Christmas.
He asked if I would sell my Christmas trees;
My woods—the young fir balsams like a place
Where houses all are churches and have spires.
I hadn't thought of them as Christmas Trees.
I doubt if I was tempted for a moment
To sell them off their feet to go in cars
And leave the slope behind the house all bare,
Where the sun shines now no warmer than the moon.
I'd hate to have them know it if I was.
Yet more I'd hate to hold my trees except
As others hold theirs or refuse for them,
Beyond the time of profitable growth,
The trial by market everything must come to.
I dallied so much with the thought of selling.
Then whether from mistaken courtesy
And fear of seeming short of speech, or whether
From hope of hearing good of what was mine,
I said, "There aren't enough to be worth while."

"I could soon tell how many they would cut,
You let me look them over."

                                    "You could look.
But don't expect I'm going to let you have them."
Pasture they spring in, some in clumps too close
That lop each other of boughs, but not a few
Quite solitary and having equal boughs
All round and round. The latter he nodded "Yes" to,
Or paused to say beneath some lovelier one,
With a buyer's moderation, "That would do."
I thought so too, but wasn't there to say so.
We climbed the pasture on the south, crossed over,
And came down on the north.

                                    He said, "A thousand."

"A thousand Christmas trees!—at what apiece?"

He felt some need of softening that to me:
"A thousand trees would come to thirty dollars."

Then I was certain I had never meant
To let him have them. Never show surprise!
But thirty dollars seemed so small beside
The extent of pasture I should strip, three cents
(For that was all they figured out apiece),
Three cents so small beside the dollar friends
I should be writing to within the hour
Would pay in cities for good trees like those,
Regular vestry-trees whole Sunday Schools
Could hang enough on to pick off enough.
A thousand Christmas trees I didn't know I had!
Worth three cents more to give away than sell,
As may be shown by a simple calculation.
Too bad I couldn't lay one in a letter.
I can't help wishing I could send you one,
In wishing you herewith a Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

End of Independent Bookstores?

NPR has started a series on bookstores.

From the article:

image“There was a time, not so long ago, when chain bookstores had a pretty bad reputation. Barnes & Noble and Borders were seen as predators eager to destroy local booksellers — and neighborhood bookstores were weathering threats from all sides. Megastores like Costco started selling bestsellers and encroaching on local shops. Then came a little company called Amazon, and the rise of online book buying. The indies were struggling to make ends meet, and many had to close their doors.

But these days, independent bookstore owners Rebecca Fitting and Jessica Stockton Bagnulo of Greenlight Books in Brooklyn argue that the struggling local bookstore is a thing of the past.

"That was the only story people — especially in media — could wrap their heads around," Bagnulo says. " 'Oh isn't it sad that all the independent bookstores are dying and they are being destroyed by chains!'"

Now, the tables have turned. In the era of online buying and the e-book, both currently dominated by Amazon, the big chains are in trouble — and new technologies may provide independent bookstores with a lifeline.”

Read the rest of the story here

Click here to hear the story.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Moving the pieces around at CPL

Here’s a note I received from Ron Antonucci – now the former head of the literature department over at Cleveland Public Library:

Effective January 2, 2011, I will no longer be Head of Literature at Cleveland Public Library. I have been named Head of Programming for this grand old institution.

ronWhat this means is that I'll continue doing the Writers & Readers series as well as the other major programs I've been involved with over the years. But I will now also originate, facilitate, coordinate and oversee ALL programs and events at every one of our 28 branches plus the Main Library downtown. Plus stuff for the director's office, the Ohio Center for the Book, the various departments--and so on.

It is a step away from books, from my wonderful collection here in Literature, from being a day-to-day librarian...I have to admit that I'm a bit sad about that.

But I still have my library card! And now we'll get to talk even more often because I fully expect you to call me when you have a new book out or when you've developed a new program or have an idea you want to bring to the people of Cleveland.

Best of luck to Ron in his new position!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Learning to Write the MFA Poem

Since we've been talking about MFAs, don't miss "Learning to Write the MFA Poem," by poet Nin Andrews.
...even if she does say
"the truth is, I never learned to write one very well."
Here's how to do it.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Student Writing Contests

Student Writing Contests

There are several national writing and essay contests for students.  Pass this on to anyone who might be interested in entering!

Power of the Pen For 7th and 8th grade students in Ohio.  A three track program that includes a writing tournament.
National Peace Essay Contest For high school students. Contest Deadline: February 1, 2011.
Signet Classics Student Scholarship Essay Contest For 11th and 12th graders. Students enter by writing an essay on one of five topics posed for this year's competition book, The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins.  Deadline: entries must be postmarked by April 14, 2011.
Holocaust Remembrance Project Essay Contest For high school students. Deadline for Essay Submissions:April 15, 2011.
Dream Deferred Essay Contest Entrants must be 25 years old or younger as of the contest deadline: February 21, 2010. Judges are looking for essays that explore what ordinary citizens can do on the grassroots level to strengthen individual rights within Middle Eastern societies. These civil rights include, but are not limited to, free expression, women's equality, minority rights, religious freedom, economic liberty, and artistic freedom.
Jane Austen Society of North America annual student Essay Contest Essay Contest is open to students world-wide at the high school, college/university, and post-graduate levels of study. Deadline is May 15, 2011.
Biographies of Contemporary Women in Mathematics
Open to: Students Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, College Undergraduates
Submission deadline: February 27, 2011
John F Kennedy Profile in Courage Essay Contest For high school students. The contest deadline is Saturday, January 8, 2011.

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.

So - back from sabbatical - Blind Review Friday. This week's offering is from a Clevelandpoetics the Blog contributor. The cue is now currently empty so send in your pieces.

Miscarriage Lullaby a.k.a. i love you et cetera

Save me, brother,
for I am falling.
Save me, brother,
catch me, hold me, 'fore I hit the pavement.

Weeping again in stark night
o'er all the faces my heart did alight,
no longer can I stand,
but to rest here, eternally, wept.

The presence of one who could be
a lover, next to me, only re-
kindles all the sleepy memories,
reveries of he who, first, last, always, I love.

And then chasing away the hours
in another droll day like so many others
I flee to the presence of such a friend
whom once I, wounded, tried vainly to love.

Ain't it funny how life goes?
And how such fate that bleeds my
heart and grinds my bones, but
only in the embrace of the Earth & Sky
can my body dare to be alone . . .

But I am not an individual
and there is no "self" to crawl
back to. Expanding awareness thru
hollowed Halls of Creation; horizontal fall

to be trapped in. But enough of the
necessity of strife, perhaps even
of this "not-self," everywhere, when,
as the bellows of my heart breathe, again.

And what could such writing be worth
in the Eternal Whirlpool of Thee Ineffable?
Everything, always, forever, smiles,
But my being will not go on much further.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Priming the pump...

Once again -

Billy Collins is peering inside the giant catfish searching, searching, and searching for a poem to fill this week's Blind Review Friday slot.

We're hoping for some new voices, and submissions from folks who have not submitted before will go to the front of the line.

Help the guy out – send your piece to

with the subject line workshop the hell out of this poem just like it says over there in the left sidebar.

All poems received will be put into the cue.

Inspiration is Nonsense?

Salman Rushdie says "Inspiration is nonsense!"
Wait, really?

"I mean, I wish there were more of those days, but most of the time it’s a lot slower and more exploratory, and it’s more a process of discovering what you have to do than just simply have it arrive like a flame over your head. So I do think it’s to do with concentration, not inspiration. It’s to do with paying attention, and I think the business of writing, a great deal of it, is the business of paying attention to your characters, to the world they live in, to the story you have to tell, but just a kind of deep attention; and out of that if you pay attention properly the story will tell you what it needs."

Sounds like he's with Thomas Edison (another Ohioan, by the way)... it's one percent inspiration, and ninety-nine percent perspiration.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Another take on the MFA debate…


has an interesting article pitting what it describes as America’s two writing cultures NYC and the MFA.

Here’s an excerpt:

imageMFA programs themselves are so lax and laissez-faire as to have a shockingly small impact on students' work—especially shocking if you're the student and paying $80,000 for the privilege. Staffed by writer-professors preoccupied with their own work or their failure to produce any; freed from pedagogical urgency by the tenuousness of the link between fiction writing and employment; and populated by ever younger, often immediately postcollegiate students, MFA programs today serve less as hotbeds of fierce stylistic inculcation, or finishing schools for almost-ready writers (in the way of, say, Iowa in the '70s), and more as an ingenious partial solution to an eminent American problem: how to extend our already protracted adolescence past 22 and toward 30, in order to cope with an oversupplied labor market.

And another:

Poets have long been professionally bound to academia; decades before the blanketing of the country with MFA programs requiring professors, the poets took to the grad schools, earning Ph.D.s in English and other literary disciplines to finance their real vocation. Thus came of age the concept of the poet-teacher. The poet earns money as a teacher; and, at a higher level of professional accomplishment, from grants and prizes; and, at an even higher level, from appearance fees at other colleges. She does not, as a rule, earn money by publishing books of poems—it has become almost inconceivable that anyone outside a university library will read them. The consequences of this economic arrangement for the quality of American poetry have been often bemoaned (poems are insular, arcane, gratuitously allusive, etc.), if poorly understood.

Read the whole article here

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Difference between Prose Poetry and Poetry, Truth and Bullshit

In her blog, Ohio poet Nin Andrews addresses the questions, what is the difference between prose poetry and poetry? Truth and bullshit?

Important questions, to be sure.

"It’s sort of like the difference between potato fritters and crème brule..."

Her answers are worth memorizing-- after all, there might be a test.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Frey about the Flaw in the MFA Today

The writing community has been lighting up with sarcasm over the news that James Frey has been going to MFA classrooms, trying to sign up innocent young writers to his new get rich scheme in which they do their writing as work for hire, and get paid $250, plus the promise of "maybe some more dollars later if I sell it to the movies." James Frey, of course, is the writer who is most famous for the revelation that his lurid best-selling "memoir" A Million Little Pieces was shown to be mostly made up. Not a problem if he were a fiction writer, of course-- but the book was sold as an amazing true story.

John Scalzi is amazed that any considers this at all, and suggests that it's a deadly flaw in the MFA program-- the MFA programs pretend to concentrate on art, and doesn't suggest that students give a moment's attention to business. So, basically, in terms of their business accumen, MFA students are all sheep ready to be sheered by the first hustler to come along.
Scalzi's suggestion-- in An Open Letter to MFA Writing Programs (and Their Students) is pretty simple: look, guys, teach your students a little bit about the business of writing.

Elise Blackwell, of the MFA program at the University of South Carolina, makes a pretty weak defense of the MFA program, writing in The Chronicle of Higher Education. Her proposition is that the goal of MFA programs is “not to grow hothouse flowers, but to protect writers for two or three short years so that they [can] write a book without distraction.” (Yow. So, basically, the point of a MFA program is that you spend a bunch of money primarily so you have a good excuse for why you don't have a job?)

Scalzi responds here.

Mark Tiedemann comments further in Digital Muse.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Dreamers Poetry Every Monday Night in Parma

Among fine poetry venues in Greater Cleveland, Dreamers is unique. See for yourself why. Every Monday night from 8 to 11, LS Royal hosts the Writers Lounge open mic and featured poet series at Dreamers Bar and Grill, 1409 Brookpark Road in Parma. Upcoming features include Dianne Borsenik, John Burroughs and Ray McNiece. See what the hype is about and be a part of the action every Monday. $5 cover. Great time guaranteed....

Friday, November 19, 2010

Poet's Haven Supports Music for Meals

Saturday Night With The Poet's Haven is at Angel Falls (792 West Market Street in Akron) on November 20th, with featured poets Steve Brightman and Eric "Verbal Influence" Odum! The Love Initiative's Music for Meals Food Drive will also be present, collecting boxed and canned goods for area food banks (grocery store gift cards and cash work, too). Anyone who donates at this event will receive an exclusive, limited edition copy of Vending Machine: Poetry for Change, a NEW chapbook/zine published by The Poet's Haven!

Steve Brightman is 1/4 cup dijon and whole grain mustard, 1/4 cup honey, 1/4 cup ground coffee, and 1/4 cup deep dark molasses. He lives in Kent, Ohio, with his pionus parrot and thinks that PNC park is the finest cathedral in North America. His poems have been featured in Pudding, Kansas City Voices, Origami Condom, My Favorite Bullet, and he was included in the Ohio Bicentennial Anthology titled I Have My Own Song For It: Modern Poems about Ohio.

Eric "Verbal Influence" Odum is a 20-year-old poet hailing from Cleveland, Ohio. He has been part of Playhouse Square's SlamU! program for the past five years. He is a peer mentor, running workshops and working on a personal level with teens on performance and writing. He was part of Cleveland's National Youth Poetry Slam team for the past three years. He also runs a poetry group called Spit Poet Spit, which performed at Urbean Joe’s Coffee this past September. Eric is the founding member of an after school poetry group called New Age Poets. He started writing at the age of nine and began performing at fifteen. He has released one chapbook, Unspoken Declarations, and has a new CD called Verbal Therapy.

This is an ALL-AGES/UNMODERATED event, meaning kids are welcome to attend and participate, but parents should be aware that there are no restrictions on language. Some performances may include coarse language.

After the features, there is an open-mic. The open-mic is recorded for the Saturday Night With The Poet's Haven podcast. Poets and musicians wishing to perform at the open-mic can sign-up at 6:30. The features will begin at 7:00. ALL TIMES LISTED ARE REAL-TIME, NOT "POETRY STANDARD TIME." In other words, GET HERE BEFORE 7:00!!!

For other artists/venues/performances supporting Music for Meals, visit and Visit the Poet's Haven online at

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Deep Cleveland November 2010

Swung by this venerable series in order to catch Steve Goldberg’s reading in support of his new chapbook Tremont Crawl. Unfortunately I packed up my camera set it on the dining room table then realized it was still on my dining room table while I rounded Deadman’s Curve as I made my way from the hinterlands of Mentor Ohio to that foreign land the Indians call Strongsville. So taking a cue from my friend Karen Sandstrom I decided to sketch the reading with rather dubious results.







After the reading a contingent of us headed to the Brew Kettle where we laughed and ate sausage and nachos. If you haven’t been to a DC reading recently get out and scope it out.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Best of Lix and Kix, vol 1: Roger Craik

Indispensible © 2009 by Roger Craik, all rights reserved

Read by the author on 18 November 2008 during the second ever Lix and Kix Poetry Extravaganza, held at the 806 Wine and Martini Bar, 806 Literary Rd. in Cleveland, Ohio

Roger Craik is English by birth, was educated at the Universities of Reading and Southampton, and came to the United States in 1991. Roger taught in Bulgaria on a Fulbright Scholarship in 2007 and currently serves as an Associate Professor of English at Kent State University, Ashtabula, in Ohio.

We recommend the following Roger Craik poetry collections:

Of England Still (2010) [available from Finishing Line Press], Those Years (2007) [available from vanZeno Press], and if you can find them: Darkening Green (2004), Rhinoceros in Clumber Park (2003), and I Simply Stared (2002).

* * * * *

The Lix and Kix Poetry Extravaganza, hosted by Dianne Borsenik and John Burroughs, now happens the third Wednesday of each month (7 p.m.) at Bela Dubby Art Gallery and Beer Cafe, 13321 Madison Avenue in Lakewood, Ohio. Upcoming featured poets include:

Nov. 17th.: Blaire Bommer (Cleveland), Christopher Franke (Cleveland) and Major Ragain (Kent).

Dec. 15th: Nicole Robinson (Kent), Eric Anderson (Elyria) and Larry Smith (Huron).

Jan. 19th: Mark Jordan (central Ohio), L.S. Royal (Cleveland) and Marilyn Olivares de Ortiz & musical friends (Cleveland).

Feb. 16th: Steve Brightman (Kent), Akeem-Jamal Rollins (Cleveland) and music by Diana Chittester!

March 16th: Heather Ann Schmidt (Waterford, MI), Mark Hersman (Mansfield) and Scott Woods (Columbus).

April 20th: Dave Nichols (Cleveland), Courtenay Roberts (Cleveland) and Connie Everett (Columbus).

For more information on Lix and Kix visit either or

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Poetry for the end of Daylight Saving Time

From the New York Times, a selection of six poems to celebrate the end of Daylight Savings Time, from our poet laureate W.S. Merwin, as well as Vijay Seshadri, Louise Glück, Derek Walcott, James Tate, and Mary Oliver.

Today you get an extra hour, to use as you wish, wisely or foolishly. Make your choice!

photo by GL, 2010

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

New Sunday Afternoon Poetry Series in Elyria

Click flyer for larger version

As many of you know, I'm John Burroughs, a.k.a. Jesus Crisis, of the monthly Lix and Kix Poetry Extravaganza in Lakewood. Though that series is still going strong, I'm thrilled to announce that beginning on Sunday November 7th I will also be hosting an open mic and featured poet series in my hometown of Elyria, Ohio (the Lorain County seat).

This new series will take place every Sunday afternoon from 1 to 3 p.m. at the newly reopened Jim's Coffeehouse and Diner, located at 2 Kerstetter Way (formerly known as Lake Avenue) in downtown Elyria, just doors away from the gorgeous East Falls Riverwalk. The current plan is that each session will begin promptly at 1 with an open mic before the features. When the weather's nice we may continue outdoors near the falls with a poetry free-for-all after the coffeehouse closes at 3.

Featured poets/authors/performers lined-up already include:

Nov. 7 - Eric Anderson and Stacie Leatherman
Nov. 14 - J.E. Stanley and dan smith
Nov. 21 - Sammy Greenspan and Tom Adams
Nov. 28 - Elise Geither and Lady K Smith
Dec. 5 - Claire McMahon and Lou Suarez
Dec. 12 - Dianne Borsenik and Mary Turzillo
Dec. 19 - Steven Smith and Courtenay Roberts
Dec. 26 - Cameron Conaway and Clarissa Jakobsons
Jan. 2 - Shelley Chernin and Anne McMillen
Jan. 9 - Andrew Rihn and Christina Brooks
Jan. 16 - Wendy Shaffer and Eric Odum
Jan. 23 - Michael Bernstein and Michael Grover
Jan. 30 - Yuyutsu Sharma, Geoffrey Landis and Bonné de Blas
Feb. 2nd thru 8th - Snoetry: A World Record Winter Wordfest
Feb. 13 - Everyone's a feature - open mic free-for-all
Feb. 20 - Dawn Shimp and a very special guest
Feb. 27 - Paula Lambert and Louise Robertson

I will add more features to the list in the very near future as soon as I have time to sort things out and get back to everybody who's inquired. Feel free to contact me at for more information/details.

Just one set of falls on the Black River in Elyria, Ohio


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Pudding House Salon-Cleveland to Launch New Chapbook 10/29 at Coventry Village Library

(click pic once or twice for a larger, more readable/printable version)

What: Book Launch & poetry reading, to celebrate new chapbook anthology from the first year of our Cleveland workshop

Who: Pudding House Salon-Cleveland poets
Host: Sammy Greenspan, director, Pudding House Salon-Cleveland
Featured readers: Kathleen Cerveny, Shelley Chernin, Christine Howey
Emcees: Dianne Borsenik & John Burroughs of Lix & Kix

Where: Coventry Village Library, 1925 Coventry Road, Cleveland Heights, Ohio, (216) 321-3400

When: Friday, October 29, 2010 at 7 p.m.

Cost: Free and open to the public
Refreshments provided
Free parking behind the library

Contributors to the Pudding House Publications anthology What I Knew Before I Knew include Courtenay Roberts, Linda Tuthill, Howard D. Hersch, Mary O'Malley, Nancy Nixon, Meredith Holmes, Bonne de Blas, Shelley Chernin, John B. Burroughs, Kathleen Cerveny, Linda Goodman Robiner, Dawn Shimp, Dianne Borsenik, Mark Hersman, Christine Howey, Caroline Dandalides, Cindy Washabaugh, Jocelyn Adams, and Sammy Greenspan.

Register at: (click on "Register for a Program")

You may also visit our event page on Facebook.


Monday, October 25, 2010

It was a Dark and Scary Night...

The Science Fiction Poetry Association has put up their 2010 Halloween Poetry Reading podcast-- nine scary poems in MP3 format, by the likes of David Kopaska-Merkel and Elissa Malcohn. If you like ghosties and ghoulies in your ears-- check it out.

If "short" is your style, on the other hand, this month Microcosms, the twitter poetry-zine, is running horror-themed short-shorts poems.

Happy Hallowe'en!

image: "A Halloween Collage with Spiders,"

Sunday, October 24, 2010

I Love You, Fuck Off - Mad Perl Lix & More

Totally unrehearsed: NYC poet Puma Perl performs "I Love You, Fuck Off" from her book Knuckle Tattoos, backed by Cincinnati-based Mad Anthony (Ringo, Adam, Dave & Marc), Friday 10/22 at Lix & Kix. Recording by Lix co-host Dianne Borsenik.

This past week, we celebrated the second anniversary of Lix with two events. On Wednesday 10/20, Cleveland poets Jim Lang and Ben Gulyas anchored our second annual "Fuck the Format, Get in Where You Fit in, Open Mic Free for All." And on Friday 10/22, we featured poetry by Smith and Lady, Alex Nielsen, and Puma Perl — plus soul-infused hard rock by Mad Anthony. Both events were quite different from each other and from what we usually do at Lix, except in these common respects: they were energetic, inspired and inspiring. It seems the poets also helped raise enough money to resuscitate the Homeless Grapevine. Kix ass! Thank you!

Click here to see the 1st half of my 10/20 Lix pix.
Click here to see the 2nd half of my 10/20 Lix pix.
Click here to see my 10/22 Lix pix.

Check out Lix and Kix Poetry the third Wednesday of each month, 7 p.m., at Bela Dubby Art Gallery & Beer Cafe, 13321 Madison Avenue in Lakewood, Ohio. Upcoming shows include:

Wed. Nov. 17: Major Ragain (of Kent), Blaire Bommer (of Cleveland) and Christopher Franke (of Cleveland).

Wed. Dec. 15th: Larry Smith (of Huron), Eric Anderson (of Elyria) and Nicole Robinson (of Kent).

Here's another clip Dianne recorded, of Puma Perl (and Cleveland Poetics contributors Shelley Chernin and me) performing a bit of non verbal poetry to Mad Anthony's song "Teeth":

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Tweet poem

Today's immortal lines from the ever-continuing tweet poem, the "longest poem in the world":

..."ever though you're singing and thinking how well you've got it made.
I just looked at this week's calendar and I'm very afraid.
And suddenly I'm not sleepy anymore. I'd die for some cereal.
Crap. I have to take a dump and I am out of reading material."

Somehow, that just says it all.

(see also earlier post at auto poetry, part 3)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Two Lix (and Kix) Are Better Than One [updated]

To celebrate the Lix and Kix Poetry Extravaganza's second anniversary, we're having two events this month: one on our regular third Wednesday (Oct. 20th) and one the following Friday (Oct. 22nd). The Wednesday event is our second annual Fuck the Format, Get in Where You Fit in, Open Mic Free-for-All anchored by Cleveland poets Jim Lang and Ben Gulyas. The Friday event features New York City poet Puma Perl, Cleveland's own Alex Nielsen and citizens of the world Smith & Lady, followed by an open mic. There will be music and cake both nights as well. Dianne Borsenik and John "Jesus Crisis" Burroughs will emcee. Both events will take place at Bela Dubby Art Gallery & Beer Cafe, 13321 Madison Avenue, Lakewood, Ohio. [UPDATE - Friday will also feature a performance by Mad Anthony, a soul-infused rock band from Cincinnati. The party begins at 7 p.m.]

According to S.A. Griffin, editor The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry, "Puma Perl is tough, funny, straight ahead and unforgettable. A survivor with a knockout punch and a heart of gold who claims she never wrote a love poem. But don't be fooled, Knuckle Tattoos is an epic love poem to the curb and back dressed in leopard print, sporting come fuck me pumps working the thin edge. Puma is jazz, punk and the ghost of Ava Gardner. A subway angel who talks to god, Puma Perl is a pearl of a girl and a poet who writes like her heart is on fire." Her latest book, Knuckle Tattoos, won the Erbacce Prize for poetry.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Reading from new Working-Class Anthology on Thursday, October 21st at 7 p.m.
Mac's Backs Paperbacks

Working Words: Punching the Clock and Kicking Out the Jams published by Coffee House Press and edited by Detroit poet M.L. Liebler is an anthology of writing about work and workers.
Poets Maggie Anderson, Jeanne Bryner, M.L. Liebler, Ray McNiece and Larry Smith will be at Mac's to read from the book.

"A collection about living while barely making one, about layoffs and picket lines, about farmers, butchers, miners, waitresses, assembly-line workers, and the “Groundskeeper Busted Reading in the Custodial Water Closet,” this is literature by the people and for the people— Working Words is a transcendent volume that touches upon all aspects of working-class life."
Other contributors include Andre Codrescu, Dorothy Day, Diane DiPrima, Bob Dylan, Eminem, Philip Levine, Thomas Lux, Michael Moore, Michael Mclure, Ed Sanders, Diane Wakoski, Walt Whitman and dozens of others.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Columbus Slam Poet, Educator and Director Scott Woods has some interesting things to say concerning an article that attempts to chastise slam poetry here:

What I love about this retort is that Woods also runs's "Poetry Is Doomed," which addresses many of Farr's issues:

As the editor of the Hessler Street Fair Competition for the past few years, I must say that "Are your poetry submissions telling you the same things they're telling the editors? Probably not." struck a particular chord with me.

Let the words of the homeless be heard!

Let the words of the homeless be heard! Cleveland poets are trying to raise money for a new version of the The Homeless Grapevine, the newspaper that the homeless used to give away to folks in return for donations (see post below). I can't think of anyone better qualified to raise money to print the words of the homeless than the word-loving poets of Cleveland. After all, if we don't stand behind words for humanity, who will? I know that the late Daniel Thompson, a fierce advocate for the homeless, would want us to do this and we can't let him down. To aid the effort, deep cleveland press will donate all of the profits from the purchase of any deep cleveland press book, or any publication from the historic Agents of Chaos "ArtCrimes" series to the effort (a markk & smith idea). Go to the below links and make a purchase today, and tell all your friends!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Homeless Grapevine is dead; long live the Homeless
Daniel Thompson poem in the Homeless Grapevine
foto taken at Daniel Thompson’s funeral by Smith

The Homeless Grapevine is dead; long live the Homeless
[received from Smith]

Cleveland poets are trying to raise $1,600 for a new issue of the newspaper the homeless give away to folks in return for donations. So far we have almost $1,000 donated by poet Larry Smith's Bottom Dog Press, poet Mary Weems, poet Ben Gulyas and his friends, and poets Kathy and Steve Smith. That leaves the newspaper $600 short.

I can't think of anyone better qualified to raise money to print the words of the homeless than the word loving poets of Cleveland; after all, if we don't stand behind words for humanity, who will?

The Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless (NEOCH) used to print The Homeless Grapevine four to six times a year which allowed the homeless to offer a newspaper in return for a donation rather than just asking for money. This let every one retain a sense of dignity because it is a transaction rather than begging. Plus 50% of the articles in each issue are written by the homeless, which gives them a venue to showcase their story and us a chance to learn more about our fellow humans’ need.

Unfortunately NEOCH ran out of money last year and there hasn't been an issue printed since August 2009. Even more unfortunate, some unauthorized folks tried to raise money using old papers, which sullied the paper's name.

So the Homeless Grapevine is no more. But they have plans for a new newspaper as well as some job training scheduled for the first of the year and would be willing to print an edition right away if they can raise the funds.

Since the old Grapevine name has been tarnished, the new paper will have a new name. Ben Gulyas has suggested calling it Let's Face It, which I think is bodaciously excellent because it is time we faced our homeless problem here in Cleveland.

As Ben Gulyas says, "The address to send a check to is listed below. Again just specify on the check that it's "for homeless newspaper," and that will reserve that money for that purpose. So far the five of us, Kathy, Steven, Larry, Mary and myself we've got $600. Let's keep it going!"

The Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless (NEOCH)
3631 Perkins Ave, #3A-3
3rd Floor
Cleveland, Oh 44114

You can also donate at

For a NEOCH status update on the donation process, check

For the NEOCH blog, check

Kudos go out to Kathy Smith for proposing this, Larry Smith and Mary Weems for jumpstarting the initial donations, and especially Ben Gulyas who has literally kept it rolling. Who says poets and poetry don’t matter?

Here are the two emails from Brian Davis of NEOCH to Ben Gulyas in response to Ben's inquiries on exactly what’s going on.

Please, all of you, pass this on. Let’s get this done.

Email #1:

Yes, the Grapevine has not published since August of 2009. We just have not had the money to publish. Yes, it would cost around $1,600 to publish one issue. NEOCH is the 501-c-3 charity to make donations to. The Grapevine never had its own charitable status. We would give out tax receipts to anyone that sends in donations to the Grapevine. We are working on a plan to tie the Grapevine to a job training program so that anyone who signs up to go through job training during the day could make some money in the late afternoon/evening to stay alive during their training. We don’t expect to start this until January 2011.

Finally, people can specify the Grapevine when donating through Network for Good, and those dollars are held until we decide what the future of the paper will be. We have talked about this for a while and since the Grapevine has not published for a year and some people are abusing the paper’s name by panhandling with old papers, we most likely start with a clean slate and a new name if we published again. We will try for a different business model to make sure that we can sustain the paper without the pedestrian traffic that we had in the past. When we started we had a rich pedestrian traffic downtown. That is no longer true so we have to look at other models for distribution.


Email #2:

If we get $1,600 then we can do an edition before we get our plans together, but as I said, we probably would call it something else. If we only get $1,000, we would have to contact the donors to ask what they want done with their donation.

I think that we can clarify on the front of the paper and in the media that we are changing directions, but still maintaining the concept. We still want a street newspaper distributed locally by homeless people with at least half of the text by homeless people. It is just that the name has been dragged through the mud with scammers using the paper to fundraise for themselves for the past year.

We would love to have volunteers. We actually just updated our website to provide ideas for volunteering in the homeless community: and then here is a link if people want to directly serve homeless people:

Also, just to let you know we are doing a joint fundraiser with Catholic Charities in November to support the Coalition. We are having a chef from Sans Souci prepare a gourmet lunch for homeless people, and we are selling tickets in which individuals can pay for one of the meals. Everyone that supports one of the meals will be entered in a raffle for prizes. It is a nice way to support NEOCH and one of the programs that feeds homeless people every day. The website on this fundraiser will be up on Friday.

I agree with you about the one shot nature of raising dollars, and how it would be great to put something together long term. We were never good at getting advertising support for the paper to sustain it. We just did not have that skill here.

Thanks again for your interest and support.

To all the other poets: Thank you for thinking of the Grapevine and the vendors who sold the paper.


Daniel Thompson poem in the Homeless Grapevine – foto by Smith


Monday, October 4, 2010

Canton – ese Poetry

Poetry and Music with Robert Miltner and Erin Vaughn
Poetry, Poetry+Music, and Music::this is a collaboration between Robert and Erin. Open mic at 7pm, the show starts by 7:30. Suggested donation is $5 and bring nonperishable food items to donate to the Stark County Hunger Task Force. Fair Trade coffee will be served.
Unitarian Coffee House
2585 Easton Street NE Canton Ohio
Saturday, October 9 · 7:00pm - 9:00pm

Thursday, September 23, 2010

New Book by Larry Smith/ Tu Fu Comes to America

And he lives right here in Cleveland. Smith is having fun and creating meaning by moving the ancient Chinese poet (or his spirit) to the streets of Cleveland. He's working at the temp agency, washing dishes, and struggling with his family to get by and make some meaning of their lives.

"Tu Fu Comes to America is a compelling verse novel depicting the poignant realities of working immigrants. Smith’s spare, sturdy lines flash with Buddhist insight as Tu Fu strives to provide for his family in Cleveland, 'In the shopping bag, my work clothes./ On my back the white shirt Mei has ironed./ No yesterday or tomorrow, only now.'" -RAY MCNIECE, author of Our Way of Life: Poems

"In the winter of 770 CE, Tu Fu left this world. In Larry Smith’s fine narrative, he reappears in present day Cleveland. We see America through his eyes, through his contemplative heart. Hope, loss, friendship, love, the old quarrel with the world. Travel with him. Open your chest. Learn." —MAJ RAGAIN, author of Twist the Axe

The book comes from March Street Press in North Carolina, 60 pages...$9. You can order from them online or from Bottom Dog Press or pick up a copy at Mac's Backs Books...Smith will be reading at Sandusky on Sunday October 10th and at Mac's on October 16th.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Westside Poetry Workshop

tools_01 NEW:
I. Poetry Workshop WEST!
Fourth Thursday of Every Month
7-9pm @ Visible Voice Books
1023 Kenilworth Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44113

UPDATE - "Just wanted to let you know if you are interested, we've dropped the tuition fee for the Poetry West Workshop with Claire and Lou. It will now have a suggested donation of $10 per session, so people who can't otherwise afford it can still come." 

Fall Session Begins Wednesday October 27, 2010.
Finally! The LIT's Public Poetry Workshop comes to the West side, Poets of all ages and backgrounds are welcome once a month to bring a work-in-progress and receive recommendations for improving it. Our goal is friendly, yet serious critiques by emerging and experienced writers. Improvement of craft through reading, writing, and work shopping with Instructors Lou Suarez and Claire McMahon.

Lou Suarez is the author of two book-length collections of poetry, Traveler (2010) and Ask (2004), both published by Mid-List Press (Minneapolis), and three poetry chapbooks, Losses of Moment, The Grape Painter and On U. S. 6 to Providence. He is professor emeritus at Lorain County Community College and lives in Sheffield Lake, Ohio, with his wife Debby.

Claire McMahon has an MFA in Writing & Poetics from Naropa University (Boulder, Colorado) and a Ph.D. in 20th Cent. American & British Poetry from Kent State University. She is co-editor of MoonLit poetry journal (Drag City Press, Chicago) and the author of a book of poems entitled, Emergency Contact (Van Zeno Press, Cleveland). She has taught English writing courses locally at Lake Erie College, Baldwin-Wallace College, Cuyahoga Community College, and Chancellor University. Currently, Claire is an Adjunct Professor of Humanities at Bowling Green University’s Firelands campus.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Poetry @ IngenuityFest 2010

Ingenuity, Cleveland’s Festival of Art and Technology

ingenuity The Ingenuity Festival returns with a weekend-long celebration of art and technology, designed for audiences of any age and experience, staged in the center of Downtown Cleveland. Prominent international masters present original works alongside the finest of Northeast Ohio’s performing and visual artists. High technology firms and major colleges and universities are presented alongside acclaimed artists to create a dazzling display of exciting and immersive new work! Ingenuity pushes boundaries, creating a unique festival experience that draws and celebrates diversity, and involves the audience as both spectator and participant!

This Year’s Poetry centered events include:

Malikee Ikiru
September 24, 2010 11:45PM - September 25, 2010 12:00AM@ Span Stage - West Concourse - West Side of Bridge
Malikee Ikiru has been active in the urban poetry scene in Cleveland since the early 90s. He combines the hard revolutionary stance of the late 60s with futuristic images military science fiction. Mixing politics, romanticism, spirituality, and a computer generated world to give his art a matrixesque feeling.  He has done hundreds of shows and opened for such acts as Sonia Sanchez, burning spear and krs1. Are you ready for the revolution? The matrix has you!

Midnight Poetry with Dr. McMahon
September 24, 2010 11:45PM - September 25, 2010 12:45AM@ Span Stage - West Concourse - West Side of Bridge
Hosted by Claire McMahon readers will include: Poetry by Eric Alleman,  Eric Anderson, Diane Borsenik,  Miles Budimir, John Burroughs,  Charlotte Mann, Claire McMahon,  Robert Miltner, Michael Salinger,  Theresa (T.M. Gottl), Russ Vidrick.

Poetry Workshop and Performance with Michael Salinger
September 25, 2010 4:00PM - 5:00PM@ West Courtyard Stage
Student workshops led by poet/educator Michael Salinger. Students will write, edit, rehearse and perform their own original works.

Ray McNiece - Haiku Slam
September 25, 2010 5:00PM - 6:00PM@ Span Stage - West Concourse - West Side of Bridge
Whether you participate or observe you will enjoy the fast paced action of Head to Head haiku – a poetry competition based on the rules of Sumo wrestling. Also, add your thoughts to the endless scroll that will be a Cleveland Rengku. Hosted by local haiku master Ray McNiece.

The festival will be held on the subway level of the Veterans Memorial (Detroit Superior) Bridge in Downtown Cleveland.  It can be accessed from the East and West sides of the river and is protected from the weather.


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