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.


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