Sunday, May 30, 2010

Yeats and McNiece, at CPT

Cleveland poet and performer Ray McNiece is on stage in the Cleveland Public Theatre's debut production of "Open Mind Firmament," a play about William Butler Yeats, and most specifically focussed on Yeats' Cuchulain cycle, a series of short plays about incidents in the life of the mythic Irish hero Cú Chulainn (the pronunciation of whose name, by the way, is a subject of some scholarly debate: Yeats prefered the pronunciation "ku-HOO-lin").

Yeats was himself intimately involved with the theater (along with friends, he established the Irish Literary Theatre to produce Irish and Celtic plays), on a mission to produce a form of theatre that avoided "vulgar realism" in favor of an avant-garde theatre emphasizing symbolism, nuance, and poetry.

Roy Berko calls this production "visually compelling"-- I'll agree with that; the stagecraft (on a very nearly empty stage) is magnificent. This is a performance combining symbolism, dance, scholarly analysis, and Irish song. I think Yeats would be proud. And Ray McNiece is brilliant in the role of Cuchulain.

Better check it out soon, though (7pm, Thursday through Sunday, 6415 Detroit Avenue Cleveland)-- after Sunday's, next week will be the final weekend.

Definitely worth seeing! (and it makes me want to go out and read more Yeats-- and more about Cuchulain, too!)

William Butler Yeats
photo by George Charles Beresford

Friday, May 28, 2010

Would you lke to share this with the class?

I don't know how reputable Indigo is - but I think the spot is cute. Like I tell my classes of middle and high school boys - chicks dig poets.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Hessler Street Fair Poetry 2010 - Pix

The Hessler Street Fair took place over the weekend, and, despite a few glitches about the time, we had a blast reading poetry! Here's some snapshots of the headliners:
Geoffrey A. Landis on stage
Me on stage
Jill Riga reads
Mary Turzillo takes the mike

Add Poets Miles Budimir & dan smith in the audience

First place poet Geoffrey Landis reads
Mary on the stage
For more pix, see the Facebook album
-or see Diane Borsenik's photos on her album

--Previous posts about Hessler Street Fair poetry

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Crazy Quotes from Crazyhorse

The literary journal Crazyhorse had a contest for best quotes about writing. Here are some of my favorites, from their top 20 (for the whole list of a hundred quotations, join the mailing list for their e-newsletter):

“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”
—Ernest Hemingway

“If there is a special Hell for writers it would be in the forced contemplation of their own works.”

—John Dos Passos

“I only write when I feel the inspiration. Fortunately, inspiration strikes at 10:00 o’clock every day.”
—William Faulkner

“If you’re going to be crazy, you have to get paid for it or else you’re going to be locked up.”
—Hunter S. Thompson

“The writer operates at a peculiar crossroads where time and place and eternity somehow meet. His problem is to find that location.”
—Flannery O’Connor

“I write a little every day, without hope and without despair.”
—Isak Dinesen

“Write, damn you! What else are you good for?”
—James Joyce

“If I don’t write to empty my mind I go mad.”
—Lord Byron

“I could claim any number of high-flown reasons for writing, just as you can explain certain dogs behavior... But maybe, it’s that they’re dog, and that’s what dogs do.”
—Amy Hempel

“Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement; then it becomes a mistress, and then it becomes a master, and then a tyrant.”
—Winston Churchill

“Always pull back—and see how silly we must look to God.”
—Jack Kerouac

"There are three rules to writing a novel and nobody knows what they are."
—Wm. Somerset Maugham

"Writing is finally a series of permissions you give yourself to be expressive in certain ways. To leap. To fly. To fail."
—Susan Sontag

“We put on our stories before our clothes….”
—William Wenthe

“All good writing is swimming underwater and holding your breath."
—F. Scott Fitzgerald

"All I am is the trick of words writing themselves."
—Anne Sexton

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Gathering Paradise: Bill Murray Reads to Construction Workers at Poets H...

Riders on the Storm: A Novel by Susan Streeter Carpenter

Tuesday, May 18th at 7 pm at Legacy's Joseph-Beth Bookseller in Lyndhurst...Cleveland native Susan Streeter Carpenter will read from her new novel RIDERS ON THE STORM, set in Cleveland's radical 1960's era. It's a rousing and thoughtful novel that brings some sense to a turbulent time in our history....with echoes of today. Susan teaches writing at Bluffton University and will be a presenter at the Antioch Writer's Conference and Island Writers Retreat this summer. Join her...Mary Grimm will provide the introduction.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The MFA Generation

John Gallaher, "Nothing to Say, and Saying it," has a great post from poet Franz Wright about the failings of the MFA generation.

"...the bar was so lowered that per year maybe hundreds or thousands of pieces of paper (if you paid your tuition, or were a good low-level instructor slave) are issued stating that somebody in his or her mid twenties is now a MASTER of the art of poetry. Then you get the insane self-consciousness of the internet going, and put it all together and you get a couple or few generations of the most abject mediocrity, not in thought—anyone can blabber intellectually—but in the art of the poem which is made of out solitary silent meditation, made out of everything that is the opposite of what you kids daily invest so much importance in. You poor dupes."

That's hitting 'em!

--the comments to the critique are mostly cheap shots at Wright, alas; pointing out that, although Wright may write a mean anti-MFA essay trashing his former students and colleagues, he never turns down a gig.

As for myself, although I can claim to be a master of many things, I'm afraid mastery of fine arts is not one of them. So I don't really have a dog in this fight, I'm just in it for the amusement of watching the bloodshed.

(For what it's worth, the commentary by Wright was in response to an earlier series of posts by Gallaher about blurbs, where (in the second one) he dishes on Wright. It's a series of posts worth reading, if for no other reason, than to hear to him ask the questions "1. Should all American poets have “the ramifications of a new global culture” as their direct subject matter? 2. If they don’t have “the ramifications of a new global culture” as their direct subject matter, is it because they find it partly “incomprehensible” and that they are partly “fearful”?" ... and to see him illustrate these questions with a series of completely irrelevant graphs. Now, that's some poetry!)

So, if you have some comments about the MFA generation, leave 'em here! Me, I'm off to rectify my failings by writing some poems about the ramifications of the new global culture.

--see also the earlier post: There's Too Much Money in Poetry!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Hessler Street Fair Poetry!

Celebrate the 41st Anniversary of the Hessler Street Fair with poetry!

The finalists for the 2010 Hessler Street Fair poetry contest anthology have been selected. Come to Mac's Back's Wednesday, May 12th to hear the poets perform their poems, or come to the Hessler Street Fair on Sunday May 23 to hear the winning poets read at the fair (simulcast on WRUW 91.1 FM).

Or just come to the Fair to experience the place where tie-dye never went out of fashion! The Hessler Street Fair is an annual community arts and music festival on historic Hessler Street in University Circle. It is a family-friendly event showcasing local artists, food, musicians and poets, attracting upwards of 10,000 visitors each year. It features a diverse mixture of musical styles and venues, and is a non-profit, volunteer-run weekend, focused on celebrating community, arts and culture. The fair runs Saturday and Sunday, May 22 and 23, 2010, from 11am until Dusk.
above: dan smith,
first-place poet from 2009,
performs his winning poem
at the Hessler Street Fair
(photo by GL)

Contents of the 2010 Hessler Street Fair Poetry Contest anthology are:

Making Scents by Diane Borsenik


Pigs and Spiders and Sparrows by Steve Brightman


spring migration by Christina Brooks


You by Miles Budimir


Strongsville Coffee by John Burroughs


A Woman by Elise Caunter


News by Shelly Chernin


Theological Garden by Morton Lee Cohen


Visit Home by Steve Goldberg


What I’m Doing Wrong by T. M. Göttl


what passes for love in cleveland by Mark Kuhar


Human Potential by Geoffrey A. Landis


Dead Presidents by Donna Middlebrook


Being Fat by Jim Miller


An Offering for Robert Graves by Jill Riga


Noteworthy Travelin’ by S. Renay Sanders


Waxing and Waning by Caitlin Smith


Old Western Matinee Motel #2 by Dan Smith


The Diner at the End of the World by J. E. Stanley


memories by Marsha Sweet


Imperial Avenue by Vladimir Swirynsky


Faded Blue by Steve Thomas


Gypsy and Snake by Mary A. Turzillo


The Train Riders by Batya Weinbaum


The Hessler 2010 Poetry and Prose Anthology is available for purchase for $8.00 new low price of five dollars from Mac's Backs bookstore, 1820 Coventry Road, Cleveland Heights, or buy a copy during the fair at the Hessler Street Fair Booth at Hessler Rd. & Hessler Ct..

If you like to have a little libation along with your poetry, the Hessler Street Fair poetry will also be continuing at the Barking Spider on Saturday.

Hessler Street Fair: where tie-dye is always in fashion! (photo by GL)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Ohioana Book Festival

There will be a host of Ohio writers at this event in Columbus this Saturday,
10-4:00, put on by the Ohioana Library at 1st Street, State Library,
Columbus....Ohio of course.
Drop by and join the celebration. I'll be there with my all Ohio novel.

Zambreno, Levitsky & Dumanis this Saturday

May 8th 2010 from 7 to 9 pm at Visible Voice Books

Kate Zambreno is the author of O Fallen Angel, a grotesque homage to Mrs. Dalloway, published in April by Chiasmus Press, winner of their “Undoing the Novel” contest. She is an editor at Nightboat Books. A collection of essays inspired by her blog Frances Farmer Is My Sister ( will be published by Semiotext(e)’s Active Agents series in Fall 2011. Kate will read from her debut novella “O Fallen Angel” (Chiasmus Press), a triptych of modern-day America set in a banal Midwestern landscape, inspired by
Francis Bacon’s “Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion” as well as Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway. Kate hails from Chicago and lives in Akron, where she teaches gender studies.

Rachel Levitsky's innovative, smart, and beautifully designed new book Neighbor (Ugly Duckling Presse 2009) illuminates the odd relationship between urban neighbors through a dated log of poetic entries. She is the author of Under the Sun (2003) and the forthcoming The Story of My Accident is Ours (2010), both from Futurepoem Books. In 1999, Levitsky founded Belladonna Series ( as a means to amplify the hushed existence of the feminist avant garde practice of writing. She teaches writing and literature at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY.

Michael Dumanis teaches literature and creative writing at Cleveland State University, where he serves as Director of the Cleveland State University Poetry Center and edits the books in their poetry and novella series. His first collection of poems, My Soviet Union won the Juniper Prize for Poetry from the University of Massachusetts Press and appeared in Spring 2007. His poems have appeared in such journals as Conduit, Crazyhorse, Denver Quarterly, New England Review, Post Road, Prairie Schooner, and Verse, and his writing has been recognized with a Fulbright Fellowship (to Bulgaria), a James Michener Fellowship in Fiction, and fellowships to Yaddo and the Wesleyan Writers' Conference.

Visible Voice Books
1023 Kenilworth; Cleveland, Ohio


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