Friday, May 29, 2015

Kenneth Warren, Editor of House Organ, Dies at 63

Sad news from Harriet: The Poetry Foundation's blog for poetry and related news.

House Organ
Yesterday we were saddened to hear the news of Kenneth Warren’s death at the age of 63. Jim O’Bryan at the Lakewood Observer writes:
This morning one of the best humans I have ever had the pleasure of meeting and working with passed away. Kenneth Warren, age 63, died of a heart attack. His son Parker was by his side according to his other son Beckett who called me.
He had been feeling bad since heading back to New York to take care of his parents, from a poetry session celebrating friend Herbert Gold, at Lakewood Public Library, the institution he headed for 25 years and made it the top library in the country 6 years in a row. He went to his acupuncturist who treated him. He still felt bad, and Parker headed to New York to take him to the “Western Doctor” at noon. While waiting to leave he suffered a massive heart attack, and was pronounced dead in his home.
Warren was the longstanding editor of House Organ, the lengthwise-folded single-stapled pamphlet which, over the years, published an array of poets (young and old, established and emerging). If a copy of House Organ never graced your hands, you can get a sense of these simple and elegantly DIY’d publications from Patrick James Dunagan’s 2007 review on galatea resurrects:
House Organ is a personal endeavor that escapes the crippling baggage that generally accompanies such affairs. Kenneth Warren edits and publishes each issue, sending them out from his residence in Lakewood, Ohio. Unassuming in appearance, House Organ consists of several sheets of 8 ½ by 11 paper folded vertically in half with a single staple affixing the spine; addresses are written on the back and postage attached—no need for envelopes—each issue contains poems, ongoing critical engagements, reviews, and memoirs. As Warren has termed the publication, it is a donor organ. This appears to be meant literally, those who receive it in the mail along with those who it publishes, donate their time and person to an ongoing, active engagement with poetry. Warren is paying attention below the usual radar. It would be of no surprise to one day run into him without ever knowing it and for him to have all the words needed for conversation at hand without any concern for hobnobbing or any “who’s who” nonsense. This is the sense of mind evidenced by his editorial judgment along with the continuing productivity and longevity of the Organ.
Warren was also the author the eclectic and intellectually capacious Captain Poetry’s Sucker Punch: A Guide to the Homeric Punkhole, 1980–2012, a collection of essays on poetry and music that was 30 years in the making. His presence in poetry will be greatly missed.
And for more on Warren’s life and work, head here to read Peter Anastas’s tribute.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Borrowing, Honoring. Stealing.

 "Inappropriate borrowing."

This is a horrifying story.  The poet, Sheree Mack, apologizes for "inappropriate borrowing."

I am most sad for the publisher. It was courageous of them--if misguided--to stand behind their author for so long. I really do admire the press, but I'm also horrified: there are some things that should not be overlooked, should not be excused, should not be forgiven.

She says that the borrowing is unintentional.  This is possibly every poet's nightmare, inadvertently incorporating a half-remembered fragment into a poem, or looking at a piece of paper with scribbled notes in your own handwriting that you don't remember writing, and saying "that's a great line, I'm glad I wrote it down."

drawing of a burglerIt was an awful amount of borrowing: hard to believe so much could be unintentional.  But maybe it was indeed unintentional, as she says. I have no way to know. But our words and our ideas and the way we put these words together are all that authors have, and we cannot just let others take them as their own, without permission and without credit.

The plagarist takes something essential to an author (their ideas, and the ways in which those ideas are presented) and cuts them to pieces that they suture together with rough-twine connective-tissue and allow to slouch into half-life like a less eloquent version of Frankenstein’s Creature.
When I read what she said, I found it compelling, and thought how easily this could accidentally happen.  But... I found her explanation strained credulity

 Sheree Mack is not the first, just the most recent. What I find somewhat more disturbing is the reaction of some of the poets-- and the publisher-- to attack the person who uncovered the plagiarism.  Ira Lightman should be commended for his meticulous work in finding and annotating plagiarims-- not attacked.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Ekphrastacy: Artists Talk and Poets Respond May 21

Photo at the Syncope Art Exhibition
On Thursday, May 21, Heights Arts presents

 Poetry and art-- together again!

Thursday, May 21, 2015; 7:00 pm at the Heights Arts gallery on Lee at Cedar

Join us for an evening with SYNCOPE exhibition artists Rachel Beamer and Achala Wali, who will share insights about their photographs and drawing on view in the gallery, as well artistic process and conceptual development.
Cleveland Heights Poet Laureate Meredith Holmes has invited four poets to respond with original works that are inspired by select imagery in the exhibition: Amy Kesegich, Robert Miltner, Mary Turzillo and I will present poems inspired by, descriptive of, or in conversation with, the works of art on display.

Ekphrastacy is always a lively time; come a bit early to get a seat and enjoy refreshments! FREE.
Photo taken at the Syncope Art Exhibition
Heights Arts: 2175 Lee Road, Cleveland Heights, OH 44118

Friday, May 15, 2015

for the godfather, daniel thompson (1935-2004)

Jeffrey Bowen's poem "for the godfather, daniel thompson (1935-2004)" was awarded first place in the 2015 Hessler Street Fair poetry contest.  He will be reading it from the main stage at the Hessler Street Fair at 1:45 p.m. (right before the Cats On Holiday set at 2:00 pm) this Sunday, May 17th; broadcast live on WRUW-FM 91.1.
Daniel Thompson (photo by John Hauserman)

for the godfather, daniel thompson (1935-2004)

at the outpost coffee house you said, “you seem like a nice kid, now go away”
at the “together help line” it was, “hey kid, don’t i know you?”
after a reading of some hot-off-the-press buddhist third class junkmail oracle jazz,
you advised, “try to stay out of jail”  then offered your card, “just in case”

years later, down in kent, you got right in my face,
and said, “nice work, ever read at a junk yard?”

poet laureate, king of hearts, jack of the arts

tradesman, fisherman, great grey chief

bondsman, bread man, blanket man, thief

stealing time, and offering rhyme in return, you backed me into gigs:
“can you pick me up?” “got a minute?”
“what are you doin’ right now?”
“any poems on you?”

so we did militant larynx, midnight poets, at the arabica, hart crane’s valentine,
and readings in honor of d.a. levy and langston hughes,
PAND at cain park, dan’s slam, luigi’s in your ear, mark’s reader,
barry’s library, suzanne’s book store,
on stage at CPT, hessler street fair, barking spider,
and gigs with sparks, salinger, melton, drumplay and brother ray

so when they say, “did you know him well?”
i say, “hell, every poet did”

and every one of the hundreds who actually went to church that day
had something to say, a poem to read, a story to tell
Jeffrey Bowen reading at the
Hessler Street Fair poetry contest May 13
(photo courtesy Sean Thomas Lemonhead)

so, with a kiss of the ring and a wave of the hand,
i say thank you to the best damn poet in the land
of cleve,
from which, so many artists eventually split

but not you, daniel,
you stayed, and the band played,
and we all got paid
in smiles,
and miles of poems,
good deeds,
words to heed

and we still hear you in the wind
as it whips across the flats, cuts carefully up superior,
takes one-o-five to east boulevard, then jogs to juniper
whispers across the mic at the spider,
and playfully rustles leaves and tussles hair,
at the annual hessler street fair

--jeffrey bowen

To read the rest of the 2015 Hessler Street Fair poems, get a copy of the 2015 Hessler Street Fair Anthology, available at the Mac's Backs booth at the Hessler Street Fair this weekend, or directly from Mac's Backs. 

jeffrey bowen

poetry & percussion

Jeffrey Bowen’s poetry has been published by Art Crimes, Cicada, Cool Cleveland, Crisis Chronicles, Cleveland State University Poetry Center, Dimensions, Doan Brook Watershed, Excursions, Green Panda Press, Hessler Street Fair, Procrastination Press, Poet’s League of Greater Cleveland, The City, The Cleveland Reader, and Whiskey Island Magazine He is one of six poets profiled in the 1995 documentary, “Off the Page”. Four of his poems are featured on “Cleveland Tumbadors,” an album of Traditional Afro Cuban Music and Latin Jazz on Fame City Records. Jeffrey is the resident poet & conga player with the band, Cats On Holiday, and his poetry appears on their CD, “Holiday in a Box” from COHTONE Records. Jeffrey’s poetry is among the “Top Ten Cleveland Poems” in both 2013 and 2014. His tribute to Poet Laureate Daniel Thompson won the 2015 Hessler Street Fair Poetry Anthology Competition. Jeffrey’s writing has also appeared in Call & Post, City News, Cool Cleveland, EcoWatch, Elephant Journal, Girl Scout News, GreenCityBlueLake, Heights Observer, Live Cleveland, Neighborhood News, Nonprofit Notes, Sun News and various Habitat for Humanity publications.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Hessler Winners!

cover of Hessler Street Fair Poetry Anthology 2015

Congrats to the winners of the 2015 Hessler Street Fair Poetry Contest:
  1. First Place: Jeffrey Bowen, "for the godfather daniel thompson (1935-2004)"
  2. Second Place: Lori Ann Kusterbeck, "Simple Ways"
  3. Third Place: Sean Thomas Dougherty, "Surgery"
  4. Honorable Mention: Christine Howey, "The Killer Turkey of Malabar Farm"
If you missed the reading last night at the Ensemble Theatre in Coventry-- you missed the poetry event of the year.  This was the biggest reading ever-- it was amazing.  But you can still hear the winning poets: The winners will be reading on the Hessler main stage at 1:45 p.m. on Sunday May 17th.  And WRUW-FM 91.1 Cleveland will be broadcasting live from the Hessler Street Fair this weekend. If you can't be there in person,  tune Sunday at 2!
Or, buy the 2015 Hessler Street Fair Anthology. This is one great book-- 129 pages, 104 poets, $14-- that's not even fifteen cents per poet. Available at the Mac's Backs booth at the fair this weekend, or directly from Mac's Backs. 
And, if that's not enough, don't miss the annual Hessler Poetry Jam hosted by Ray McNiece and his Tongue-in-Groove band, from 2 to 5 p.m. on May 16th at the Barking Spider.  ("The Hessler Fair's annex for adult beverages"-- Ray McNiece).

--and don't forget to make some time this weekend to go to the Hessler Street Fair itself: music, crafts, booths, dancing, face-painting & harmony park for kids, and an overall good time, 11 am to dusk, Saturday and Sunday.  Map

Monday, May 11, 2015

Poetry: still more popular than opera

In the Washington Post wonkblog, Christopher Ingraham asks about the state of poetry:
 He points out that asking whether poetry is dying is a tradition that's almost as old as poetry is:
"Is verse a dying technique? How dead is poetryWho killed poetry? Does anybody care?  Is poetry dead?  Is poetry dead? Is poetry dead?"
 ...but then goes on to look at data from the national Survey of Public Participation in the Arts, which points out that reading poetry is less popular then dancing, going to jazz concerts, or knitting... although it is more popular than attending opera.
"Poetry: still more popular than opera"-- say, that's a catchy slogan. Isn't it?

Graph of popularity of various arts
graph from

Friday, May 8, 2015

Put The Pig Down and No One Has To Get Hurt
from Pulp Drunk

There is so much to say about soap. Precisely everything that it tells about itself until the complete disappearance, the exhaustion of the subject. This is just the object suited to me.
Soap has much to say. May it say it with volubility, enthusiasm. When it has finished saying it, it no longer is.
Soap was made by man for his body’s use, yet it does not willingly attend him. This inert stone is nearly as hard to hold as a fish. See it slip from me and like a frog dive into the basin again … emitting also at its own expense a blue cloud of evanescence, of confusion.

From “Soap,” by Francis Ponge 

The Art of the Paragraph

How Not to Interview Black People about Police Brutality By Jericho Brown

The true story of Little House on the Prairie is a new app that links novels to the physical locations mentioned in them.

 In the US, where poetry can feel like the exclusive domain of MFA grads and disaffected teens, I would never say to someone, “If you really want to understand America, read some modern poetry.” But in today’s China, where it seems like everyone is writing poetry, that might be just the thing to do.

Eating and the Pleasure of Denial

The Moon Upoon The Waters
Tom Raworth

                  for Gordon Brotherston

the green of days : the chimneys
alone : the green of days and the women
the whistle : the green of days : the feel of my nails
the whistle of me entering the poem through the chimneys
plural : i flow from the (each) fireplaces
the green of days : i barely reach the sill
the women’s flecked nails : the definite article
i remove i and a colon from two lines above
the green of days barely reach the sill
i remove es from ices keep another i put the c here
the green of days barely reaches the sill
the beachball : dreaming ‘the’ dream
the dreamball we dance on the beach

Finnegans Wake – the book the web was invented for

Borges' 'Library of Babel' comes to virtual life

Pulp Drunk - Mexican cover art
from Pulp Drunk

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

A Poem A Day Till the Start of May

In response to the challenge of writing a poem a day for every day of National Poetry Month, I know at least three Ohio poets who took the on challenge, and shared their poems to the web (who knows how many others did a poem a day, but didn't share them with the internet?). Over at Smith & Lady's blog "Walking on Thin Ice," Kathy Smith-- aka "Lady"-- has posted her poem a day, starting with "Sunlight plays serenade":

April Poetry Month Poem – #1

Sunlight plays serenade
wealth of land cries mead song
like Starland Vocal Band Afternoon Delight,
honeybirds on powerflowers, acanthus leaf
on corinthian column, splay of lay like spread
of Andrés Segovia Kama Sutra my thumb toe
peeking from bloom of rust dress like Psyche
and you Cupid come of age fat arms
plush in calligraphic detail
~ Lady

Two more northeast Ohio poets have been using Facebook for chronicling their April poem-a-day:
Marcus Bales, starting with a bit of Frost, "Stopping By A Phone for the Silent Treatment":

Stopping By A Phone for the Silent Treatment

for Norman Ball

Whose call this is I think I know --
she’s staying with her mother, though.
She calls in silence like a swan
across the city, through the snow.

She hates to waste her silence on
an empty room so, having gone,
she calls to let me hear her say
the naught from which she won't be drawn.

The only sound I hear’s the grey
and empty hollowness of stray
electrons that the lines endow
with hiss that softly leaks away

I listen to her disavow
in silence silence, yet, somehow
still ask if I am sorry now,
still ask if I am sorry now.
--Marcus Bales

And Steve Brightman has been doing a poem a day for several years now (!), posting one a day to his facebook notes.  His 30 poems for April started with "Unsuccessful Touchscreen" on April 1:

Unsuccessful Touchscreen

one screen
goes dark
and your panic
is a dry-lipped search.
you upend the world.
you become
last lighthouse.
you fail miserably.
Every flat surface
becomes unsuccessful
Windows are useless,
serve no purpose
unless you want to see
the world happening
while you panic.

--Steve Brightman

Anybody know any more?  


Saturday, May 2, 2015

2015 Hessler Street Fair Poetry Contest 5/13 at the Ensemble Theatre

The 2015 Hessler Street Fair Poetry Anthology will be released Wednesday 13 May 2015, 7 p.m., at [PLEASE NOTE NEW LOCATION] the Ensemble Theatre, 2843 Washington Blvd. (in the old Coventry School building, a just a few minutes walk from Mac's Backs) in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. Book contributors are invited to read their selected poems that night. Immediately after the reading, a panel of judges will select three winners from among the readers.  Those winners will receive modest cash prizes ($100, 50 and 25) and be expected to come read their poems Sunday 17 May at 1:45 pm at the Hessler Street Fair, broadcast live on WJCU.

We also encourage you to check out the annual Hessler Poetry Jam hosted by Ray McNiece and his Tongue-in-Groove band, from 2 to 5 p.m. on May 16th at the Barking Spider.  Select poets including the Hessler poetry contest winners will be invited to share their poems accompanied by the band.

Thank you to everyone who submitted, and congratulations to the following poets whose work was selected for inclusion in the anthology!

Alexis-Rueal — “Lard”
Michael J. Arcangelini — “Telling My Father about Paradise”
Dana Aritonovich — “I Realize It’s Over”
Thandiwe Augustin-Glave — “My Heart”
Stephen M. Benefit — “You & Yours”
Cyndi Birkmeier — “Mom with Love”
Kim Boccia — “The Perfect Shade of Red”
Rose Mary Boehm — “Heimweh is more than a flesh wound”
Dianne Borsenik — “Flower Power”
Jeffrey Bowen — “for the godfather daniel thompson (1935-2004)"
Steve Brightman — “The Full of Eternity”
Christina M. Brooks — “Black River Falls”
Patricia Brodsky — “Almost Home”
Skylark Bruce — “Inside Pressure”
Chad Burrall — “Cold Memories”
Michael Ceraolo — “Mobservation #13”
Kathleen Cerveny — “Rosetta Stone”
Shelley Chernin — “How to Choose Sides in a Circular Argument”
Charles Cicirella — “Resurgence”
Caitlin Cogar — “Blowing Away”
Roger Craik —“Lake Erie Midges”
Subhankar Das — “She Hated Dogs”
Natalie Dickerson ­— “A Gift of Luck in the New Year”
Christine Donofrio — “Looking in the Mirror”
John Dorsey — “Steve Goldberg Death Poem”
Sean Thomas Dougherty — “Surgery”
Robin Wyatt Dunn — “Waiting”
Poetessa Leixyl Kaye Emmerson — “Diorama: The Persistence of Dreams”
Michael Fiala — “For Tamir”
Giselle Fleming — “The Night They Found You”
Diane Vogel Ferri — “Cleveland”
Ethan Fittro — “The Rose That Grew from Concrete”
Luba Gawur — “Kali”
Ken Gradomski — “Dream Driving”
Dana Grant — “Room”
Susan Grimm — “Questions for the Moon or the Moon Like a Shut White Eye”
Zachary Scott Hamilton — “Years in a Seahorse”
Austin Heath — “Yoshimitsu’s Teeth”
Charles Hice — “Ici”
Veronica Hopkins — “1140 West 4th”
Christine Howey — “The Killer Turkey of Malabar Farm”
Preston & Paul Hrisko — “Ode to the Moustache”
Clarissa Jakobsons — “The Morning Wind Whispers”
Azriel Johnson — “Sentinels”
Krysia Jopek — “The City of Z”
Jeremy Jusek — “The Garrettsville Boardwalk”
Janne Karlsson — “Rock Bottom” / “Grim Reaper”
Diane Kendig — “Taking Daniel Thompson into Maximum Security”
Kim, theBwordpoet — “Left”
Ian Koenig — “Temptation”
Leonard Kress — “Jazz Chops”
Tom Kryss — “Cleveland Extension”
Craig Kurtz — “Informer’s Catechism”
Lori Ann Kusterbeck — “Simple Ways”
Geoffrey A. Landis — “Shout”
Jim Lang — “Throat”
Jessica D. Lewis — “My Wrists as an Exit”
Lennart Lundh — “Elegy”
Caitlyn Lux — “The Cantaloupe”
Susan Mallarnee — “spring joggers”
Marc Mannheimer — “The Same Chord”
J.W. Mark — “Expiring”
Molly McCann — “Summer Berry”
Bob McNeil — “A Versified Voyage”
Ray McNiece — “The Sun’s Life Insurance”
Lila McRainey — “Silver Lining”
Philip Metres — “Compline”
Marisa Moks-Unger — “Lanterns over Lido”
Patrick O’Keeffe — “On the Back Page”
Mary O’Malley — “I Sit in Contemplation of Stones”
Ashley Pacholewski — “Ruby Slippers and Kansas”
Renee Pendleton — “The Strength of Weaving”
Tanya Pilumeli — "Ritual"
David S. Pointer – “The Lyrics Really Meant”
Sally Queen — “No One Can Hear Me”
Ben Rader — “Zombieku”
Valentina Ranaldi-Adams — “Irises”
Georgia Reash — “Love Beyond”
Poetess REDD — “Super Glue”
Elizabeth Rees — “Comfortably Numb”
rjs — “we won.”
Amy Rosenbluth — “The Unraveling”
Elizabeth Rudibaugh — “The Soft Wind Blows By”
S. Renay Sanders — “Easter Shoes”
Heather Ann Schmidt —“The Star”
Erika Schoeps — “Shame”
Dennis Shanaberg — “Daylight Returns”
Kevin Frederick Smith — “Error”
Larry Smith — “Two Places at Once”
Steven B. Smith — “Daylight Savings Time”
Vladimir Swirynsky — “Brief History about Nothing in Particular”
Brian Taylor — “Silent Night, 1914”
Joseph Testa — “Why All Alone?”
Steve Thomas — “Heaven”
Jonathan Thorn — “Drifting Light”
Kerry Trautman — “Borrowing Your Shower”
Nick Traenkner — “Midnight. West Park Cleveland. April 16.”
Mary A. Turzillo — “Sonnet 65,000,000 BC”
D.R. Wagner — “Gasping for Breath”
Mary Weems — “Blue Heron Sonnet”
Batya Weinbaum — After the Fight”
Laura Grace Weldon — “Earthbound”
Eva Xanthopoulos —“You Undid My Spiral Galaxy & I’m Still Dizzy”
Shkehlaht Yisrael — “Samot”

Peace, love and poetry,
John Burroughs, editor
Crisis Chronicles Press

Friday, May 1, 2015

More From Northeastern Ohio

National poetry month is now over!  Did you have a good one?

If thirty poems from thirty poets was not enough for you, here's a little something more from the Cuyahoga County Public Library: two Printable Poetry Chapbooks, with poems from the long-running poetry workshop moderated by Robert McDonough:


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