Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Ekphrastacy: Art and Poetry Continues

Shawn Watrous

EKPHRASTACY: Artists Talk + Poets Respond

Thursday, October 1, 7pm

Cleveland Heights Poet Laureate Meredith Holmes has invited rising regional poets to respond with original verse inspired by select imagery in the exhibition. It’s always a lively time; come a bit early to get a seat and enjoy refreshments! FREE.

Heights Arts writes:
Join us this week for Ekphrastacy. What processes and concepts are explored in contemporary art? Come hear Emergent 2015 artists Joanne Arnett, Abbey Blake, Matthew Gallagher and Shawn Watrous discuss their work, then hear Zachary Thomas, Aaron Bennett, Amanda Stovicek, John Roth, and Natasha Rodriguez-Carroll--poets in the NEOMFA (Northeast Ohio Masters in Fine Arts) creative writing program--read poems created in response to art on view in the gallery.

Emergent 2015, on view through October 17, showcases ten rising artists who graduated from area art programs in recent years and are now producing significant work.
2175 Lee Road, Cleveland Heights, OH 44118

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Happy Equinox

Miles by Lady
Happy equinox, everybody, as summer turns into autumn, and the sunset is due west, shining right in your eyes as you drive west.

To celebrate, Lady has put out the autumn equinox 2015 issue of her 'zine The City, with poetry and art by all of (well, many of) your favorite poets and artists, from Cleveland and elsewhere.


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Hundreds and Hundreds: Best American Poetry, and the Name of the Poet--

Sherman Alexie talks about selecting poems for the Best American Poetry.
It's actually pretty interesting.  When he says
"I had no idea that I would spend the next six or eight or ten months reading hundreds and hundreds of poems. Hell, it's quite probable that I read over 1,000 poems last year. I might have read over 2,000 poems. It could have been 3,000."
I think, hundreds and hundreds? That's all? There must be at least 5,000 zines that publish poetry in the US. Even if his top figure is right--  he read less than one poem, on the average, from each magazine.

But nobody (well, nobody but me) is talking about how he selected the poems. Everybody is talking about just one poem-- or rather, just one poet-- the poem by "Yi-Fen Chou," which (after he selected it) Alexie discovered is a pseudonym of a poet named Michael Derrick Hudson.  In his bio for the volume, Hudson gave his real name, and says that he used the pseudonym because the poem "was rejected under my real name forty (40) times before I sent it out as Yi-Fen Chou," and says "as a strategy for 'placing' poems, this has been quite successful for me." He didn't ever actually claim to be Chinese: just used a Chinese name and let the editors make assumptions about his background.
Hmm. Should we be outraged?
Angry Asian Man thinks we should.  LA Times says "Best American Poetry Under Fire".
What do you think? Is it cheating? Cultural appropriation? Proof of reverse discrimination?
Poetry is a tough business, or at least, it is if you think the only poetry that's not worth spitting on is poetry published in literary journals that gets picked up in Best American Poetry. Alexie said that, of the poets he picked, "Approximately 99% of the poets are professors." Since he only printed 75 poems, that means that just one poem in the volume was not written by a professor. Hudson is a librarian, not a professor: so when Alexie says he only selected one poem that isn't by a professor-- that was the one.

--On the other hand, in The New Republic, Theodore Ross says "Cheat! It's the Only Way to Get Published." Maybe that's the secret.

Friday, September 4, 2015


It's almost here!  All the guests have been confirmed, and OH DADDIO, the excitement is reaching a fever pitch!

On Saturday September 19, 2015, Cleveland, OH will celebrate The National Beat Poetry Festival with the event BeatStreet Cleveland at the Barking Spider Tavern, 11310 Juniper Rd, from 3pm to 7pm, featuring poets and live music, with free admission and groovy giveaways.

YOU are invited to join us for this historic Happening!

PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS EVENT WILL BE RUNNING ON REAL TIME, NOT POETS' TIME!  It will begin promptly at 3 pm and will end at 7 pm...and you won't want to miss a minute of it!

(We are working on securing a place close to the Barking Spider for an afterparty, where we can gather to drink, eat, talk, and groove together. This location will be announced as soon as I know we have it for sure.)

BeatStreet's confirmed features:

D.R. Wagner

 D.R. Wagner is an author, visual artist, and musician. He founded press : today : niagara in 1965 and Runcible Spoon in the late 60s, producing over fifty magazines and chapbooks. He co-wrote The Egyptian Stroboscope with d.a. levy and read with Jim Morrison of the Doors in a legendary reading with Morrison and Michael McClure. He also has read with Ferlinghetti, Al Winans, Anne Waldman, and many other poets over the past forty years. Wagner's work is much published. He continues to design interior carpeting and tapestry, as well as write, perform, and publish poetry regularly.

Alex Gildzen
(New Mexico)

Alex Gildzen is a poet and artist who uses film as the basis of his work.  He entered Kent State University in 1961, and while still an undergraduate had poems published in American Weave and Snowy Egret.  He met d.a. levy in 1965; levy published him in the Buddhist Third Class Junkmail Oracle.  Hugh Fox included Gildzen in his 1973 anthology The Living Underground.  Crisis Chronicles Press published his book Ohio Triangle earlier this year to celebrate his 72nd birthday.  Find Gildzen at 
Arroyo Chamisa.

Theresa Göttl Brightman

Theresa Göttl Brightman won first place the first time she competed in a poetry slam.  She has won numerous awards, and has been heard throughout Ohio and points beyond, including Chicago's Vegan Mania, and 89.7 WOSU radio.  Her work has appeared in print and online publications including Pudding Magazine and Rubbertop Review.  Her full length collection of poetry is Stretching the Window (Buffalo ZEF 2007); a new collection is due out in 2016 from Coda Crab Press.  You haven't experienced her poetry until you've seen and heard her perform it!


John Burroughs

John Burroughs, writer, editor, musician, and composer, is the author of The Eater of the Absurd and numerous poetry chapbooks; his poem "Lens" was nominated for the Pushcart Prize.  His poems include "Cannot Believe William S. Burroughs Is Dead" and "Allen Ginsberg Wants You".  Since 2008 he has been editor/publisher for Crisis Chronicles Press.  Burroughs performs his dynamic poetry across the rust and coal belts.  His new book Beat Attitude (from NightBallet Press) will debut at BeatStreet Cleveland.


Joining John Burroughs: musician Étienne Massicotte:

Étienne Massicotte (Montreal)

Étienne Massicotte is a musician newly located to Cleveland, working as a trumpeter, composer, and teacher. He is currently engaged with the Tesla Orchestra of Case Western Reserve University, composing and arranging music for a performance this fall to feature three musicians of the Cleveland Orchestra and a spectacular array of lightning-emitting beacons known as Tesla Coils. Previous engagements include appearances with the Ashland Symphony and four seasons with the Ohio Light Opera Festival Orchestra.

Sean Thomas Dougherty

Sean Thomas Dougherty's books include Nightshift Belonging to Lorca, Except by Falling, Broken Hallelujahs, Sasha Sings the Laundry on the Line, and All You Ask For is Longing.  His awards incl
ude 2 Pennsylvania Council for the Arts Fellowships in Poetry. Known for his electrifying performances, he has toured extensively across North America and Europe. His 1st featured reading over 25 years ago was at the Jack Kerouac Festival.

Ingrid Swanberg

Ingrid Swanberg is the founder/publisher of
Ghost Pony Press, and editor-in-chief of Abraxas Magazine.  She holds a PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  Garrison Keillor has read her poetry on The Writer's Almanac.  She co-authored  D.A. Levy & the Mimeograph Revolution, and  published a definitive collection of the work of d.a. levy, Zen Concrete & Etc.  Her two new poetry collections are Ariadne & Other Poems (Bottom Dog Press, 2013) and Awake (Green Panda Press, 2014).

Larry Smith (Ohio)

Larry Smith is the biographer of Kenneth Patchen and Lawrence Ferlinghetti. He also has done biographical work with Ingrid Swanberg in d.a. levy & the mimeograph revolution (Bottom Dog Press). He has published numerous books of poetry, and wrote and produced two films on Ohio authors James Wright and Kenneth Patchen. Smith lives on the fringe of Cleveland in Huron, Ohio, where he directs Bottom Dog Press publications.

 Jim Lang (Ohio)

Jim Lang, poet, photographer, artist, in his own words:

"born in th 40's died in th 50's thrived in th 60's loved in th 70's coasted in th 80's predicted in th 90's reprised in th 2K's ~ a poet/photographer he published in newspapers magazines and small press books for 40 years ~ he taught at universities high & grades schools free & controlled ~ he hung at galleries from columbus to toronto ~ & he read & showed off & slept on walls & floors & lawns from sea to shining sea ~ "a @ 5 made fotos @ 16 & pots @ 50 a phopopotographer a little of each shows up" 

Steven Smith (Ohio)

Steven Smith--poet, memoirist, photographer, blogger, and collage/assemblage artist--has been writing poetry for nearly five decades. For more than 20 years he published the famed ArtCrimes journal. He created a massive online art/poetry archive at, and a wide array of his poetry and collages have been published in the critically acclaimed Zen Over Zero: Selected Poems 1964-2008 (The City Poetry Press). Smith makes his home in the Tremont neighborhood of Cleveland, Ohio.

aaaaand the Peace, Love, & Music of Zach!

Zach Freidhof (Ohio)

Zach, recently named "Humanitarian of the Year" by Akron Magazine, is a yogi, Kingian Nonviolence Trainer, and World Peace Diet Facilitator. He is also a fantastic musician who believes “We should manifest ourselves in exquisiteness every chance we get.” Zach professes this mantra, his life’s philosophy, on his latest release, The Antidote, his 15th release is as many years. With a friend, he created the Akron Peace Project to spread nonviolence in the self, the home, and the community. Coupled with his Love Initiative movement, his music--naturally very hopeful and optimistic--has been able to lend its voice to the power we all have to change ourselves and the world. Learn more at

Mark your calendars for this Very Special Event.  Cleveland's heart will BEAT brightly with BeatStreet at the Barking Spider on September 19th!


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