Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Kay Ryan reads "Miners' Canaries" at CPL

Here's a second clip of U.S. Poet Laureate Kay Ryan reading in Cleveland this year. To see the first, "Is It Modest?," click here.

Kay Ryan's reading occurred during the Cleveland Public Library's Writers & Readers Series at the Louis Stokes Wing auditorium on Sunday 18 April 2010 in Cleveland, Ohio — amateur video by John Burroughs, a.k.a. Jesus Crisis, posted for educational purposes only. "Miners' Canaries" comes from Kay Ryan's 2010 book The Best of It: New and Selected Poems (published by Grove Press).

For a schedule of upcoming Writers & Readers events hosted by the Cleveland Public Library, please visit

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Friday, June 18, 2010

The Return of Blind Review

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.

I was riding in a car

A passenger, staring out of the window

And as each line on the asphalt passed me by,

A dotted line that never seems to connect with the other

Like an unfinished sentence, like a failed relationship

I looked from sky to ground

As each cotton candy cloud of manmade pollution passed, I pondered each passerby

As they flitted passed me in their cars, everyone different from the last

I looked from Eastern Horizon to Western walls

Walls of iced graffiti climbing

Like veins, like vines, on cars, on trains, on dividers

Housing a skyscraper forest

That oppressed the beautiful blue sky

And then I realized

That the sky is not as beautiful as it once was

That the view beyond my window

Was a portrait of what we never really see

Oh yes!

The sky was so blue that day

So cearulean that it would shame the most pure of sapphires

But painted upon this corroted canvas

Was a landscape worn with time

Tained, by man’s need for dominance

Sky pollution

Road pollution

Ground pollution

Water pollution

Even the trees looked sad

As they were bullied by house upon house

Building upon building

In this forest of metal and glass

No part of nature was sacred anymore

And I thought to myself

That I could be a warrior

With hands that could sew

And feet that can stand

A voice that can raise

And ears that can listen

I could conquer the metallic gates

I could fight beyond distressed walls

Break down the invisible layers of denial

Of each

And every person

That sped past my eyes

Next to me

I knew as I sat there

Quiet and thoughtful

That no one really knew

What we had been doing

To what we had so graciously been given

I would become a general in a battle of one

And though I am so very small

And my voice meak against the walls of human ignorance

I will never stop speaking

And though I love this city

I will not become oblivious

To the depletion of green around me

To the smell of industry that fills my nose

With every breath

To the view outside my window

Of building upon house upon gravel

Where mother nature gravels to be heard

Where oxygen begs to be purified

Where forests call out to be explored

Armed with only these two hands

Young, hands, strong hands, my loving hands

And my meak voice

That houses strong opinions

Shall I ask each and every person

What do you see when you look outside your window

What do you want you childrens children childrens children to bask in

Shall they bask in the warm glow of the spring sun upon their faces

And the sweet crisp air of the evergreens

Or swim in a sea of ozone depletion they cannot quell

And metal and pain that cannot be healed

What kind of world are we shaping for them

I will ask

As a woman my womb cries out

To my brain to my heart

And as I look from sky to ground once again

East to west out of my window

I look at my fiancé sitting next to me

And know she understands

I am a warrior

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Up and Coming at Lix and Kix

Hosts Dianne Borsenik and John "Jesus Crisis" Burroughs invite you to check out the featured poets, lively open mic, eclectic tunes, fabulous coffee, and a wide selection of beer, art and assorted grooviness during the Lix and Kix Poetry Extravaganza, held every third Wednesday on the western suburban fringe of Greater Cleveland. Our next event is:

Wednesday 16 June 2010 at 7 p.m. —
when Joshua Gage, Lara Konesky, and dan smith will be our featured poets at the Bela Dubby Art Gallery and Beer Cafe, 13321 Madison Avenue in Lakewood. An open mic will follow.

Lara Konesky
of Columbus is author of the recently published Next to Guns [Grievous Jones Press].

Joshua Gage
is a contributor to Cleveland Poetics: The Blog, author of breaths [vanZeno Press], and co-author (with J.E. Stanley) of the recently published Intrinsic Night [Sam's Dot Publishing].

dan smith
is the author of Crooked River [deep cleveland press] and winner of the 2009 Hessler Street Fair Poetry Anthology contest. He will be accompanied musically by Miles Budimir and Morgan Ellington of the Deep Cleveland Trio.

Other upcoming Lix and Kix Events:

Saturday 17 July 2010 — Dianne Borsenik
and John Burroughs, a.k.a. Lix and Kix, will be featured poets during the Ohio Poetry Association picnic in Marion, Ohio. Event begins at 1 p.m. and will include an open mic for OPA members.

Wednesday 21 July 2010 at 7 p.m.
Our featured artists will include Alex Gildzen (originally of NE Ohio and currently of Santa Fe, NM - author of many books including Elyria by Crisis Chronicles Press) and Cleveland's own Alex Nielsen and Christine Howey during the Lix and Kix poetry extravaganza at Bela Dubby in Lakewood. An open mic will follow.

Wednesday 18 August 2010 at 7 p.m. —
Renée Alberts & Nikki Allen (bringing their cut and run poetry tour from Pittsburgh) and the one and only Steve Abbott (from Columbus) will be our featured poets during the Lix and Kix Poetry Extravaganza at Bela Dubby in Lakewood. An open mic will follow.

Wednesday 15 September 2010 at 7 p.m. —
Our featured artists will include Lou Suarez, author of Traveler [2010, Mid-List Press], Meredith Holmes and a to-be-announced musical guest during the Lix and Kix poetry extravaganza at Bela Dubby in Lakewood. An open mic will follow.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Lou Suarez Comes to Sandusky Coffeehouse

Lou Suarez will be reading from his new book Traveler at the Sandusky Coffeehouse Readings this Saturday at 2:00. Lou is a longtime supporter of writing in our region, and he always shares himself along with his poems. Join us if you can.
Lou Suarez is the author of two book-length collections of poetry, Ask (2004) and the
new Traveler (2010), both published by Mid-List Press, also three poetry chapbooks,
Losses of Moment (Kent State University Press, 1995), The Grape Painter, (Frost Heaves
Press, 2001), and On U.S. 6 to Providence ((Red Mountain Review, 2006).
He is currently professor emeritus at Lorain County Community College, and lives in Sheffield
Lake, Ohio, with his wife. He is a member of the Lorain Poets. On Traveler: “Again and again the sharp-eyed poems of Lou Suarez see through the still surfaces of the ordinary to reveal the turbulence and mystery of our own lives. In a collection that is by turns sexy, elegiac, and celebratory, Suarez shows us that the world—the American world in particular—
is stranger, larger, and lovelier than we knew. Isn’t this why we read poetry?” — George Bilgere

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Cordite Zombies

The April issue of the Cordite Poetry Review is a special issue on zombie poetry.

Zombies are a peculiarly American trope, and it's odd to see Cordite ("Australian poetry and poetics") doing an American obsession. Despite their invention in Haiti (does anybody still connect zombies with vodoun any more?), zombies were drafted into America by George Romero, who, with Night of the Living Dead, reenvisioned and redefined the idea of the walking dead so vividly that even forty-some years later, we still see them as Romero saw them. As authentically American as American flags on the fourth of July.

(I was at a party last year when the discussion turned around to peoples' zombie-apocalypse contingency plans (*). What are your plans for how to survive when the hungry walking dead prowl the abandoned, burned-out homes of your home town? Quick tip: moving to an island doesn't work. Zombies don't need to breath; they can walk on the bottom.)

So, back to Cordite. (Cordite, by the way, is a World-War-I era form of gunpowder used for rifles and artillery. It's called "cordite" because it's formed into cords-- it looks like strands of orange-white spaghetti. If you're writing men's adventure fiction (or poetry), could you please stop talking about "the smell of cordite"? It's mostly obsolete, hardly anybody uses it any more. Thanks you.) So, zombies have long since infected the world, even Australia.

What makes us so fascinated about zombies, anyway? Does the world need zombie poetry? And, more important-- is it any good? Death has fascinated poets since around when Gilgamesh was king-- Death be not proud, Because I could not stop for death, Rage, rage, Garden of Proserpine, not to mention about a million others, including just about every poem that Edgar Allen Poe ever wrote. So, what are zombies, but death on the prowl, coming for you at any moment your attention wanders?
So, sure, why not zombie poetry?

Editor Ivy Alvarez says:
"We know more about the undead species who have lived in our hearts and dined on our minds than ever before. We have probed into their weaknesses, evaded their tricks and know well of their canny (and uncanny) chicanery.
We know these things … because they were once like us. Let us not rest on our laurels. Let us be vigilant and as ready as we can be for the uneasy future that is Zombie 2.0.

*See also the story "Some Zombie Contingency Plans," by Kelly Link. Check it out; Kelly Link is really weird. And I mean that in a seriously good way.


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