Monday, December 26, 2011

Shooting at Penguins

So, apparently the new Penguin Anthology of Twentieth-Century American Poetry, selected and edited by Rita Dove-- former US Poet Laureate, not to mention Akron home-town girl--has been attracting some vicious reviews over her choice of which poets, and which poems, represent the 20th century, centered on Helen Vendler's slam review in The New York Review of Books, asking “Why are we being asked to sample so many poets of little or no lasting value?"
Enough fire has been drawn to attract the attention of the Chronicle of Higher Education: ("Bloodletting Over an Anthology").

John Olsen, in the Tillalia Chronicles, calls the anthology flightless, and says "The Penguin Anthology of 20th Century American Poetry is such a travesty, why bother to say anything about it at all?" He goes on to comment "in view of what a hideous and psychotic landscape the United States has become, should it be that surprising that an anthology of American poetry would exclude, oh, I don’t know, Howl?"

In the Kenyon Review’s blog, poet Amit Majmudar suggests that the problem is that "its title is at odds with its nature." He suggests that the volume might have been fine if it were just Dove's selections of poems she liked, but for an anthology with pretense to some scholarly value as an overview of the century, “the volume comes to seem biased to the point of scholarly unreliability.”

Inclusivity, exclusivity... is it really a "dubious and incoherent selection from the country’s last century of verse."?

Whoa. So much attention! Everybody loves it when poets fight.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

52 Cleveland Haiku (50)

In winter darkness
Christmas lights in red and blue
glitter in the rain.

--Geoffrey A. Landis

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Hoping for a Happy Christmas, Cleveland!

Peace on Earth, good will to men

... and hoping that, whichever holiday you may choose to celebrate, all your wishes come true.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

52 Cleveland Haiku (49)

Half-frozen mud
crunchy under my feet;
footprints fill with snow.

--Geoffrey A. Landis

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Smile, it's a Simile

"John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met."

Check out the 56 best/worst similes evah.

These were identified "as having been written by high schoolers", although in fact they actually originate from the Washington Post's Style International Analogy contest. Still, how can you argue with this:

"It hurt the way your tongue hurts after you accidentally staple it to the wall."

"The baseball player stepped out of the box and spit like a fountain statue of a Greek god that scratches itself a lot and spits brown, rusty tobacco water and refuses to sign autographs for all the little Greek kids unless they pay him lots of drachmas."

Sunday, December 11, 2011

52 Cleveland Haiku (48)

Raindeer skeletons
draped with wire and tiny lights
slowly turn their heads

--Geoffrey A. Landis

Saturday, December 10, 2011

How to become famous

"We're here to conquer American Poetry and suck it dry of all glory and juice."

Jim Behrele explains "Poetry And Ruthless Careerism: How To Become The Most Famous Poet In America Overnight."

"Now, you might think that because there are more poets than ever, there might be more opportunities for poets than ever. And you'd be correct. If your fondest wish is to become the next totally obscure minor poet on the block, well, you're probably already successful at that. This literary landscape has proven itself infinitely capable of absorbing countless interchangeable artists, all doing roughly the same thing in relative anonymity: just happily plucking away until death at the grindstone, making no great cultural headway, bouncing poems off their friends and an audience of about 40 people. A totally fine little life for an artist, to be sure. No grand expectations from the world to sit up and listen. One can live out one's days quite satisfied to create something enjoyed by a genial cult. But that's not why any of us are here tonight."

Monday, December 5, 2011

Bilgare meets Keillor

According to the Cleveland Scene,
"Like “jumbo shrimp,” “famous poet” is pretty much an oxymoron. Still, if any contemporary Cleveland wordsmith is poised to make that leap, it's George Bilgere."

Bilgere will read live on A Prairie Home Companion at 6 p.m. this Saturday, December 10; catch it live on NPR stations WCPN 90.3 or WKSU 89.7.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Metaphors in Popular Music

A lot of my students, when asked whether or not poetry is necessary, respond with the idea that it is, if only for entertainment value. When prompted to go further, they argue that song lyrics are a form of poetry, and that music is entertainment. The discussion moves from there, and usually I prompt them to come to class armed with lyrics they feel are poetry. Inevitably, the ones that seem to be most poetic--rich in rhythm, metaphor, lyricism, etc.--are those of rap songs, often underground rap songs. Pop songs tend to be trite, at best, and despite lectures on imagery vs. abstraction, students defend them with thoughts like "well, you have to understand what she means. It's like interpretation."

That being said, to slam all pop lyrics as trite and unpoetic would be unfair. For example, Paul Simon greens me with envy every time I hear the opening line of "Graceland":

"The Mississippi Delta was shining like a national guitar"

which he later follows up with "My traveling companions are ghosts in empty pockets."

These two lines, in a song concerning a pilgrimage to Elvis's home and a search for community and redemption, are poignant.

or what about R.E.M.'s tribute to Kurt Cobain, "Let Me In," which begins:

"All those stars slip down like butter/and promises to keep."

The double vehicle of that simile, surreal and heartbroken at the same time, is another jealous moment for me as a writer. Also, the allusion to Patti Smith should not go unmentioned, either.

So, what are some other really excellent metaphors or similes (not just brilliant imagery) from pop music (not rap...that should probably be a different post topic) and why do you feel that they are particularly poignant. How do the vehicles of these figures illuminate the tenor in some way, or establish a particular tone that works even with out being sung or with musical accompaniment?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

52 Cleveland Haiku (46)

Cleveland Thanksgiving

All the couches full
all the uncles drunk
football on the lawn

--Geoffrey A. Landis

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sunday, November 13, 2011

52 Cleveland Haiku (44)

Goose on Parma porch
warmly dressed in brown and orange:
must be football fan.

--Geoffrey A. Landis

Sunday, November 6, 2011

52 Cleveland Haiku (43)

Fried baloney
with onions, cheese, two fried eggs:
Hinckley Tavern lunch.

--Geoffrey A. Landis

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Patricia Grodd Poetry Prize for high school sophomores and juniors

Know any high-school age poets? This from the Kenyon Review:

The Patricia Grodd Poetry Prize for Young Writers

The eighth annual Patricia Grodd Poetry Prize for Young Writers will begin accepting entries in November. The prize, which is open to high school sophomores and juniors throughout the world, is juried by David Baker, KR‘s poetry editor.

Nearly 600 entries were received last year, with the winner, Natalie Landers of Tarrant, Alabama, receiving a full scholarship to KR’s popular Young Writers summer workshop. The top two runners-up received partial scholarships to attend the summer workshop, and all three poets were published in the Fall 2011 issue of The Kenyon Review.

Students are invited to submit one poem via an online submission system. Visit KR’s Web site for a link to the contest submission page at that time. The contest will close on November 30.

High school teachers are encouraged to pass along this information to sophomores and juniors.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Guess What? We're All Rich!!!

According to this article, we as poets are raking it in, at almost $4,000 above average. So, the question is, how many of you are making money--like big money--off your poetry. If you are, what secrets do you have to impart. If you're not, why do you think that is?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Friday Poetry Spectacular in Canton!

The First Friday poetry event in Canton is always fun, but this coming Friday it's going all out.

The Poetry Spectacular will be happening all over the Arts District at Canton First Friday's Noteworthy November, happening November 4th. Here's a line-up for the multiple poetic performances throughout the evening:
  • 5:30 PM - Diane Borsenik will be at the Canton Museum of Art (1001 Market Ave. N.)
  • 6:00 PM - Jen Pezzo will be at MOLA Gallery (336 4th St. NW)
  • 6:30 PM - Peter Hessman will be at Lynda Tuttle's Art Center (209 6th St. NW)
  • 7:00 PM - Mary Turzillo will be at Carpe Diem Coffee (215 Market Ave. N.)
  • 7:30 PM - AKeem Jamal Rollins will be at Elemental Arts (236 Walnut Ave. NE)
  • 8:00 PM - Geoffrey Landis will be at MOLA Gallery (336 4th St. NW)
  • 8:30 PM - T.M. Gottl will be at Lynda Tuttle's Art Center (209 6th St. NW)
  • 9:00 PM - Arianna Cheree will be at Carpe Diem Coffee (215 Market Ave. N.)
And it's all embedded in the monthly Canton First-Friday art's festival, which will be going on all around. Visit for a printable map and complete schedule of November's First Friday performances and events.

Check out their Facebook event page.

(No poetry slam at First Friday this month; but the First Friday Poetry Slam will resume in December with featured poet Zach Ashley.) And, this is all made possible thanks to Arts in Stark!

Monday, October 31, 2011

FREE FARM & MOONSHINE at Mac's Backs Boks
Start: 11/19/2011 7:00 pm
Larry Smith, author of The Free Farm and Marilyn Schraff. author of Moonshine: Illicit Spirits in the Appalachian Hills of Rural Southern Ohio will be at Mac's for a reading and booksigning. The Free Farm is a coming of age and love story novel about a working class kid who goes to college in southern Ohio during the era of the counterculture. "Written in a strong, sensitive but never sentimentalizing voice, Smith has penned a kind of spiritual being-of-age novel, while still providing a clear-eyed look at a turbulent, fascinating era of the American experience." C.D. White
Moonshine is a social history of moonshining and stills in Appalachia. Marilyn Schraff's family had stills and she interviewed over 75 people for this lively account of the importance of liquor-making to the culture of southern Ohio.
Marilyn is a retired teacher and water-color artist who is also the author of Appalachian Childhood.
Larry Smith is a fiction writer, poet, literary biographer and film writer. He is a longtime supporter of the Cleveland writing scene with books on d.a.levy and the Cleveland Poetry Scene. He has published several novels and volumes of poetry including The Long River Home (fiction), Tu Fu Comes to America (poetry) and biographies of Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Kenneth Patchen.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

52 Cleveland Haiku (42)

Ghouls hang from trees,
zombies with light-bulb eyes:
celebrate sugar, and death.

--Geoffrey A. Landis

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Sunday, October 16, 2011

52 Cleveland Haiku (40)

Swirls of autumn leaves
Dancing overhead; far off
Storm clouds on the lake.

--Geoffrey A. Landis

Sunday, October 2, 2011

52 Cleveland Haiku (38)

Neon city night:
the sound of tires on wet streets,
snatches of music.

--Geoffrey A. Landis

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Simultaneous Submissions and Their Rewards

A conversation at a writer's group brought to memory this article by Michael P. Kardos. While some of the sarcasm is palpable, Kardos does ask an important question: What are the ethics of accepting or refusing to accept simultaneous submissions?

I think this all the more valuable for poets because it seems that in MFA programs, for every one prose writer, there are at least half a dozen eager poets, all competing for those same magazine slots against all the other MFA authors, teachers, etc. I'm going to challenge Kardos, and argue that for poetry--good poetry--it's still only a 1% chance that a good poem makes it into a magazine. This seems to be true from my editorial experiences, but also acknowledges what many of the entries in Poet's Market write.

If I'm doing my math right, it'll look like this:

.99x = .01
log (.99)x = log (.01)
X log (.99) = log (.01)
X log (.99)/log (.99) = log (.01)/log (.99)
log (.99) log (.99)
X = log (.01)/log (.99)
X = 458.2 submissions

I'll round it down to 458, just to be optimistic, but assuming that there's a three month response time, and that most academic magazines only accept submissions within a semester, we're looking at 229 YEARS before a poem would be accepted. If we assume a three month response time, average, and find magazines continually that accept during Summer months, it's only 114 or so years--FOR ONE POEM TO GUARANTEE ACCEPTANCE!

I don't even know if there are this many academic magazines in the world, but the options seem pretty straight forward:

  • Write the best damn poems you can, and pray
  • Ignore academia and go the indie route, which may or may not affect your potential career as a poet
  • Simultaneously submit anyway, and hope you don't shoot yourself in the foot
  • Submit to only those magazines that accept simultaneous submissions, and pray
None of these are really good options, especially considering the indie route tends to be flooded with such a mixed bag of poetry that even the more reputable presses are sneered at.

Anyway, it'd be interesting to hear your thoughts on this idea.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

52 Cleveland Haiku (37)

First day of autumn

Cicadas sing.
On the sidewalk, one red leaf:
evening air turns cool.

--Geoffrey A. Landis

Monday, September 19, 2011

Friday, September 16, 2011


Ingenuity is here!

This weekend is the Cleveland Ingenuity Festival, held on the unused streetcar level of the Detroit Superior Bridge. Check it out-- this is an amazing space, part of Cleveland that is not ordinarily open to the public. If you've never been there, you really ought to see it.

Acts and music and video and theatre and art and even electricity! And, yes, there will be poetry, courtesy of Vertigo X and the PoetsHaven.

Friday afternoon: the main Ingenuity website seems to be down at the moment. I assume it will be back up shortly, but for the moment, try the Ingenuity information at the website, the Ingenuity facebook page, or the Poet's Haven facebook event page.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A D'Elyrious Night with Alex Gildzen under the Stars on 9/15

As a young man, Elyria-bred Alex Gildzen was published by d.a. levy. Then his first full chapbook came out in 1969. Since that time, he's had lots of books published, including the recent The Arrow That Is Hollywood Pierces the Soul That Is Me (2011, Otoliths). Also a renowned mail artist and long time special collections librarian at Kent State University, Alex now lives and writes full time in Santa Fe, New Mexico. When I found out he'd be in town this month for his mother's 90th birthday (Happy Day, Helen!), I invited him to read with me on Thursday September 15th 2011 at the Lorain Arts Council's Sweet & Savory Bistro and he happily accepted. So come on out, hear some great Gildzen poetry and let's celebrate! (My wife's and my birthdays are this week as well). Alex is a treasure and one of my personal poetic heroes - and the LAC is a great venue (their Go Figure art show is still going on, too) - so I hope to see you at this very special event.

Lorain Arts Council (gallery & bistro)
737 Broadway
Lorain, Ohio 44052

Facebook event page:
Gildzen's bio:
His blog:

Here's a clip of Alex reading a poem to commemorate the 80th anniversary of our Terminal Tower last year:

Sunday, September 11, 2011

52 Cleveland Haiku (35)


In our memories
skyscrapers still burn:
black smoke
against deep blue sky.

--Geoffrey A. Landis

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Deep Cleveland Poetry Hour continues!

Maybe not the longest-running poetry reading in the Cleveland area, but it's gotta be darn close.
Despite the death of its long-time host location at Borders Books, the Deep Cleveland Poetry Hour reading series is still alive and continuing on its second-Friday readings, hosted by Joshua Gage, now in its new location:

6556 Royalton Road
North Royalton, OH

Next reading is this Friday!
Friday, September 9 · 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm

The event will have Youngstown poet Karen Schubert as the featured poet, along with the traditional Deep Cleveland open mike.

Postscript (9/10): for those who missed it, John Burroughs has some pix up at his facebook page.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

52 Cleveland Haiku (34)

Labor Day

Pale lavender flame
in darkness above the flats:
we're still a steel town.

--Geoffrey A. Landis

"The Flame," image by David Ploenzke, used with permission.

A New Book

I don't know if blatant advertising is allowed on this blog - but here is my new book. The Desire Path is a story for anyone who has ever felt like a misfit in the world. It is the story of one mother's sacrificial love and another woman's failure to love unconditionally. It explores the themes of family versus biology, the damage of estrangement, and ultimately forgiveness and reconciliation.

Please visit or read some reviews on Amazon.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Bree, Adam Brodsky, Vidrick, Chris Franke at Visible Voice

September 3, 2011  @  7pm Visible Voice Books 1023 Kenilworth (in Cleveland)

Bree of Green Panda Press took time off from poetry to write her memoirs, The Rainbow Sweater & My Mother, which appear in a single volume (August 2011). They are stories of LSD, karma, chronic pain, the poets' life, daughterhood and Buddhism.

Adam Brodsky aka Latex Menagerie also released a CD in August, 'Lost Days of May' with spoken word accompaniment by Bree, Russ Vidrick and Christopher Franke. Adam is an independent poet, book artist, musician and teacher. Russ Vidrick and Chris Franke can be found at reads across the city including Saturday Afternoon Open Mics at Brandt Gallery in Tremont

Join us for a book and CD launch party, with poetry, prose, music and more!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

52 Cleveland Haiku (33)

Beech trees
grey like legs of elephants:
carved with long-lost loves.

--Geoffrey A. Landis

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Lit's fire is quenched.

So - the decades old literary organization has folded.  
What do folks have to say?
I'll weigh in later.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Poetry Returns to Bela Dubby on 8/25

Writing Knights Press Proudly Presents:

John Burroughs
The Ian Shaw Band
Eva Xanthopoulos
D.L. Woure
Ben Peridol
Jacob Dahlke

MC: Azriel Johnson

Writing Knights Press is a Cleveland Based Publishing Company and Internet Poetry Collective. Writing Knights is always looking for new Writers to help publish.

For more details, check out:

Monday, August 22, 2011

Book Release Green Panda

Green Panda announces the release of "The Rainbow Sweater & My Mother," a double-memoir in a single volume by the Cleveland poet Bree. These are tales of LSD, karma, chronic pain, Buddism & daughterhood.

Copies are available at Mac's Backs, or at ( ) or by paypal to, or heck, send a check to Green Panda Press 3174 Berkshire Rd. Cleveland Hts., OH 44118. $10 gets u the book, $3 for ships and freighters.

Green Panda 10 yrs Pandering

Green Panda looks back on 10 years of books, a sort-of incomplete catalogue of books, broads and sundry. Check out to see titles of yore and follow the blog to find out about books from the future!

p.s. if u have a copy of a book not listed, please scan a copy of the cover or take a shot and email to

a more complete archive would be great. lots of titles missing, in particular i think of 'The Rain Poet' by Daniel Thompson---hundreds of the babies went out into the world but no copy remains with the publisher. also 'What Grows Glass' by R.A. Washington, 'Beth' by Alex Gildzen. Catch-22 since i cant hold the babies in my hands but then i didnt make the books to keep them, i made 'em to get 'em out, out, out (& read).

Sunday, August 21, 2011

52 Cleveland Haiku (32)

Noisy geese and crickets--
The hiker doesn't care:
He's got an i-pod

--Geoffrey A. Landis

Poetry Apps

The Victorianator, an app created by LudicVoice that’s like a cross between a poetry reading and Wii Sports.

Here’s how it works: a poem appears on the screen of your iPhone (you need an iPhone for this app). You read the poem aloud into the phone (using the speaker setting) in a monotone. Then a steampunk robot takes you through a series of gestures that produce voice effects on the poem you just read. So, for example, sweeping an arm toward the sky will raise the pitch of the poem, whereas extending your arm will extend the sound of the word. The variations in pitch make the poem sound like it’s being read by an eminent Victorian; you’re scored on how closely your gestures match the robot’s.

Read more

Nick Laird on poetry online

'I got an iPad last week and spent this morning exploring a few of the 718 applications returned when you search for "poetry"


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