Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Cleveland Collaborative Renga: Finished!

We have now finished the Cleveland  renga!  Congratulations to all who participated by contributing lines!
(to see the opening stanzas, click here for part one, click here for part two, and here for part three).
Anyone can join in!  To contribute, add your stanza to the comments!

                         a shred of light left to hold
                         -but inadequate; I fear for this anchor 

waves reflect gold, bronze,
or ash floating like soot
where her hopes burned, capsized, sank 

     frozen iron ore freighter
     begins to buoy free of ice

           buckled open
           listing to the right
           falling in love again 

               underneath the old-growth oak
               just breaking into spring's green

                    overcast sky
                    the potholes gather
                    cherry blossoms

                         scent of earth on gentle breezes
                         where Lakeview's carved stone reposes

Background info:

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Songs in the Key of Cleveland: the Best Cleveland Poems

Last May, some of the best poets in Cleveland were invited to compete in the Best Cleveland Poem contest, and the top poets were invited to perform their poems for an audience at Willoughby Brewing Company.
Now, Crisis Chronicles Press has published Songs in the Key of Cleveland: An Anthology of the 2013 Best Cleveland Poem Competition, featuring the best poems from the contest.
The anthology has poems by by Catherine Criswell, Katie Daley, T.M. Göttl, Dianne Borsenik, Geoffrey Landis, Joshua Gage, Terry Provost, Jack McGuane, Ruth J. Coffey, Martin Snyder, Jeffrey Bowen, Mary A. Turzillo and Ray McNiece.
to get a copy: order directly from Crisis Chronicles Press, or ask at your local poetry-friendly indie bookstore (like maybe Guide to Kulchur, on the west side, or Mac's Backs, in Coventry)

The official book launch will be March 3rd reading at the "Mondays At Mahall's" reading series (first Monday of every month, 7:30 – 9:30pm, at Mahall's 20 Lanes, 13200 Madison Avenue, Lakewood).  See you there?

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Russell Atkins

From Diane Kendig:
This year has been the best of times, it has been the worst of times for Cleveland poet Russell Atkins. The best is the new book on him by Pleiades Press, Russell Atkins: On the Life and Work of an American Master, ed. by former Clevelander Kevin Prufer and Michael Dumanis. Please consider ordering a copy from your favorite independent bookstore.

The worst was the forcible removal of Russell to a nursing home, without allowing him to take his possessions. Four of us have been visiting and assisting him in recovering from all this.

He has an 88th birthday coming up next week which we will be celebrating with his favorite cake on Thursday, Feb. 27th. If anyone would like to attend, please email Diane Kendig or Bob McDonough for the time and locale and so we have enough cake. If you can't attend but would like to wish him well, please send a card to

Russell Atkins
The Grande Pavilions
24613 Broadway Avenue
Oakwood Village, OH 44146

Diane Kendig
Web page:
Blog, Home Again:

"This is an astounding tribute to one of the most innovative American artists, Russell Atkins, by a small, independent publisher, Pleiades Press. Prufer, a professor in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Houston , and Dumanis, a professor at Bennington College, put together this labor of love, paying homage to Atkins, this peerless yet largely unknown poet, composer, dramatist, theorist, and editor."
--Robert Fleming 

"Russell Atkins is an American original, representative of an often African-American or increasingly Hispanic American working class side of American culture and society which is at an ever increasing rate being dropped by the wayside. This is the down and out, every day underbelly of American cities. As Sean Singer argues, for Atkins “the urban environment is a vital source for [Atkins’] imagination. Urban life, and specifically black urban life, is important to his work. Cleveland, and the cultural imagination of Cleveland, are ‘main characters’ in most of Atkins’ work.” His writings are of a quirky, odd sort and there’s no easy “fit” for them, since there’s often nothing very fashionable happening in them—not now and not at the time he was writing. Born and raised in Cleveland, he’s never left. The majority of his published books come from small presses, with the possible exception of Paul Bremen’s Heritage Series published out of London in the 60s. In 1976, Cleveland State University brought out the largest selection of his poems entitled Here In The. There has been little attention given his work on any significant public level since. The inclusion of Russell Atkins’ work in the Unsung Masters series by Pleiades Press seems destined. He’s exactly of the sort whose work and life this project is meant to serve."
--Patrick James Dunagan

Monday, February 17, 2014

Snoetry is back!

60 poets in 11 hours-- plus you!  Yes, Snoetry is back, this time at Guide to Kulchur bookstore, in the Gordon Square district near the Capitol Theatre and Cleveland Public Theatre.

Courtesy of The Tao of Jesus Crisis:


Featuring writers from several states! Lix & Kix, and friends present the 4th almost annual Snoetry winter wordfest, Sunday 16 March from noon to 11 pm at Guide To Kulchur: Text, Art, and News in the Gordon Square arts district of Cleveland, Ohio.

Open mic from noon to 1 p.m. 60 featured poets from 1 to 11 p.m.

Potluck and BYOB. If you have any questions, please contact John on Facebook or at jc at

Full [perhaps still evolving] schedule:

Noon: Open Mic
1pm: John Burroughs (Cleveland)
1:10 Mark Sebastian Jordan (Mansfield)
1:20 Heather Ann Schmidt with Marc Shepard (Michigan/Oberlin)
1:30 Clarissa Jakobsons (Aurora)
1:40 Barton D. Smock (Columbus)
1:50 Helen Shepard (Oberlin)
2 pm: Kathy Smith (Cleveland)
2:10 Steve Brightman (Kent)
2:20 Blaire Bommer (Cleveland)
2:30 Juliet Cook (Medina)
2:40 Steven Smith (Cleveland)
2:50 Suzanne Savickas (Cleveland)
3 pm: Marisa Moks-Unger (Erie)
3:10 Jeffrey Bowen (Cleveland)
3:20 Bree [a.k.a. Zlee Zlee] (Cleveland)
3:30 Marissa Hyde (Cleveland)
3:40 Chuck Joy (Erie)
3:50 James E. Stanley (Cleveland)
4 pm: Jennifer Hambrick (Columbus)
4:10 Rose M Smith (Columbus)
4:20 Dianne Borsenik (Elyria)
4:30 Eric Anderson (Elyria)
4:40 Claire McMahon (Cleveland)
4:50 Tracie Morell (Erie)
5 pm: Bradley K Meyer (Dayton)
5:10 Ellis E-matic Crockett (Erie)
5:20 Alex Nielsen (Cleveland)
5:30 Dan Smith (Cleveland)
5:40 Bridget Kriner (Cleveland)
5:50 Megan Collins (Erie)
6 pm: Gork (Cleveland)
6:10 Josh Romig (Ravenna)
6:20 Amanda Oaks (Pennsylvania)
6:30 Mary O'Malley (Cleveland)
6:40 elliot smith (Erie)
6:50 Adam Sagert (Lorain)
7 pm: Christine Howey (Cleveland)
7:10 Kelly Boyer Sagert (Lorain)
7:20 Andy Roberts (Columbus)
7:30 Ryan Sagert (Lorain)
7:40 Brian Fugett (Dayton)
7:50 Theresa Göttl (Cleveland)
8 pm: Steve Thomas (Cleveland)
8:10 Cee Williams (Erie)
8:20 Lennart Lundh (Illinois)
8:30 Mistress Rosie [a.k.a. Lisa Dabrowski] (Lorain)
8:40 mark s. kuhar [a.k.a. Mark Cueball] (Medina)
8:50 Catherine Criswell (Cleveland)
9 pm: Shelly Ann (Cleveland)
9:10 Jim Lang (Cleveland)
9:20 Christina M. Brooks (Detroit)
9:30 Gavin Corey (Boston)
9:40 Shelley Chernin (Cleveland)
9:50 Vladimir Swirynsky (Cleveland)
10 pm Christopher Franke (Cleveland)
10:10 Mark Cronin (Cleveland)
10:20 Cavana Faithwalker (Cleveland)
10:30 Steve Goldberg (Cleveland)
10:40 Julie Ursem Marchand (Elyria)
10:50 Ra Washington (Cleveland)

Peace, love and poetry....

Or check the Snoetry-4 facebook page.
...and, if you're suffering from withdrawal from not enough Snoetry: join the Snoetry Withdrawal support group.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Cleveland Collaborative Renga: Part 3!

Contribute to the Cleveland Collaborative Renga!
We are now halfway through the renga
(to see the opening stanzas, click here for part one, and click here for part two).
Anyone can join in!  To contribute, add your stanza to the comments!

                          eleven roses -- heart pierced
                          by thorns of the absent stem

a sidewalk crevice
in the cracked city concrete:
a purple thistle

     feeble is the gardener
     who tends to our pavement fields

          whispered words fall blind
          pavement ends where waves begin
          Erie's shore purring

               the lake's syntax -- like driftwood,
               baring its truth in silence

                    steam rises
                    from the wet sidewalk
                    her broken English 

                         freejazz punk noise rock music
                         blasts out of the clubs and bars

modern dancers spin
Pirate's Cove weaves siroccos
bright Pere Ubu night

     freighter glides silently;
     radio plays blue velvet

          the night's ballet--
          adagio of river and bridges
          sailors delight

                wind scuds leaf-sail galleons
                stars drown: chilly ecstasy

                     one ship left, seeking
                     the safe harbor of the moon
                     before it, too, dies

                         a shred of light left to hold
                         -but inadequate; I fear for this anchor 

waves reflect gold, bronze,
or ash floating like soot
where her hopes burned, capsized, sank

     exploded like the helm
     of the Titanic on ice

           slashed open
           listing to the right
           falling in love again

  • Renga are poems which alternate three line verses in haiku format (5-7-5) with two line verses (7-7).  
  • Each verse links to the previous verse, but not to verses before that.
Join the fun!
To add a stanza, go on to part 4

Background info:

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Slices from a Silver Blade

The most recent issue of  Silver Blade Magazine has Mary A. Turzillo and me as the featured poets, including a couple of poems from each of us, and an interview with both of us by editor John C. Mannone.
And he says flattering things about us, too!

logo of Silver Blade

Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Literary Industrial Complex...

Michael Lista, in the (Canadian) National Post, warns of the "literary industrial complex". His advice: publish less.
Ouch!  I think I like this guy.

" the munitions factory whose only enemy is an armistice, the Literary Industrial Complex in this country requires an unbroken draught of verbiage, regardless of the quality, for its continued solvency. It dovetails nicely with the post-Humanist aesthetic that presently predominates English-language verse, which values the elliptical, the runic, the evasively verbose, in which questions of aesthetic merit dissolve in a sociological and stylistic bath, poems that buy into what Ange Mlinko has called “the sense that the lid has been ripped off any consensual definition of poetry, and that for a new generation it has been a test of one’s authenticity to write poems that evade all criteria for a ‘good poem.’ ” And the more of it the better."

And he has advice for literary magazines, too (or at least, Canadian literary magazines): Why literary magazines should fold

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Alex Bevan and Rachel Brown

Songwriting is a form of poetry, too.

"I have no wings... I have no wheels…
only these dreams I fasten to my heels…
I have no wings… I have no road…
only these songs to sing before I go…"
--Alex Bevan

Alex Bevan and Rachel Brown: 2 of Cleveland's best storytelling singers unite for a songwriters night


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