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 www.theloveinitiative.com and http://musicformeals.us. Visit the Poet's Haven online at www.poetshaven.com.

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 crisischronicles.com or myspace.com/lixandkix.

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 jc@crisischronicles.com for more information/details.


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



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