Thursday, May 13, 2021

Literary Cleveland Inkubator to feature Claudia Rankine, Viet Thanh Nguyen, and New Yorker Writers

From our friends at Literary Cleveland:


This summer, Literary Cleveland’s annual Inkubator Writing Conference will take place virtually from July 11-25 with 31 free events totaling 78 hours of literary programming.  


The 2021 Inkubator will offer a wide range of interactive classes, craft talks, open mics, and panel discussions. This year’s conference features 11 multi-session workshops including teen and intergenerational classes as well as a printmaking and bookbinding workshop for those interested in making their own physical book.  


Nationally-recognized writers who will participate include Viet Thanh Nguyen in conversation with Thrity Umrigar and a panel of New Yorker writers originally from Cleveland: Andy Borowitz, Marry Norris, and Kathryn Schulz. An all-star lineup of local authors will lead panels on writing in prisons, solutions journalism, ethical representation in literature, how storytelling can affect social change, and writing about illness beyond the pandemic. Plus four editors from major New York publishing houses will discuss state of the industry and provide feedback on participant’s first paragraphs.  


The two-week event will be capped off by a keynote reading and discussion with renowned author Claudia Rankine. Rankine, presented by Cleveland Public Library. Rankine is a MacArthur fellow and the author of Just Us: An American Conversation (2020) and Citizen: An American Lyric, which won the 2015 National Book Critic’s Circle Award in poetry. 


Similar to last year, nearly all of the events will take place digitally this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. However there will be an in-person outdoor pop-up event at the Cleveland Public Library Eastman Garden on Saturday, July 17 featuring a book fair, DJ, food and drink vendors, and a community building workshop with an open mic.  


The 2020 Inkubator is supported by Cuyahoga Arts and Culture, the Cleveland Public Library, the Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities, the Northeast Ohio MFA Program, Mac’s Backs Book, Loganberry Books, Appletree Books, Hathaway Brown and the Press Club of Cleveland.  


Literary Cleveland is a nonprofit committed to helping people “explore other voices and discover their own.” The organization is a community of writers committed to bringing people into the world of words by providing educational writing opportunities at all levels, promoting new and existing literature of the highest quality, and advancing Northeast Ohio as a vital center of diverse voices and visions. 


To register and for more information, visit our website.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

The Ohio Poetry Association Launches a New Podcast

The Ohio Poetry Association presents a new podcast hosted by Cleveland area poet Jeremy Jusek. Poetry Spotlight "interviews active Ohio poets. Each episode goes in a different direction based on our guest, but the goal is always the same: investigate what makes Buckeye writers tick. Inspiration, projects, and perspectives on writing are all on the table." A new episode every other Thursday! Click here for more info.

Follow the Ohio Poetry Association:
Facebook / Twitter
Become a member.

Friday, April 16, 2021

Write the Beats with Ray McNiece

From Cleveland Heights Poet Laureate Ray McNiece:

Write the Beats

A Workshop of Beat Writer Prompts

Beat era poets have had a profound influence on modern culture and mores as well as contemporary poeticsin particular performance poetry. Write the Beats is a workshop of Beat poetry prompts: Each of the six weeks will use a prompt based on a poem by a prominent beat era poet: Ginsberg, Snyder, Ferlinghetti, DiPrima, Kaufman and Kerouac. Prompts will explore themes of political poetry/identity, environmentalism, feminist poetry, surrealism, and spontaneous bop prosody. We will also look at works by Baraka, Waldman, and Corso for the poetry of rebellion, beat spirituality and neo romanticism.

Online via Zoom on Thursdays from 6pm-8pm April 22-May 27th

Register to receive the zoom link and class instructions.


Ray McNiece is the author of nine books of poems and monologues, most recently Love Song for Cleveland, a collaboration with photographer Tim Lachina, and Breath Burns Away: New Haiku. He toured Russia with Yevgeny Yevtushenko. He also toured Italy twice with legendary beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti and was writer in residence at the Kerouac House in Orlando, Florida.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Poetry month, featuring 30 Days of Poetry!


National Poetry Month graphic

Once again, it's April with his shoures soote (in this case, snow showers). And that means once again it's National Poetry Month. And, once again, Laurie Kincer of the Cuyahoga County Public library has put together Thirty Days of Poetry, featuring a poem from a Northeastern Ohio Poet, and a poetry prompt, delivered right into your inbox every day this month.

Laurie writes:

Hello, poets!


I hope you’re signed up to receive Read + Write: 30 Days of Poetry, Cuyahoga County Public Library’s National Poetry Month blog. Every day in April, you’ll receive a poem by a poet who lives, works, or has some important tie to northeast Ohio; a poetry writing prompt to try; and a poetry book to check out of the library. Here’s a sample of the daily blog and the link to sign up for it. 


You’re also invited to these special poetry workshops:


And, of course, these regular, monthly gatherings of poets:


Happy National Poetry Month to you and yours!

...and if that's not enough for you, check out Michelle R. Smith's blog, "Forcing Bulbs", where she is posting a poetry prompt every day in celebration of NaPoWriMo.  Start with Day One.

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Remembering Ben Rader (1947-2021)

I met Ben Rader for the first time at a reading Larry Smith hosted at Joe Sundae's in Sandusky in 2008. I immediately liked him. Since then, I've run into him at probably a hundred open mic venues across the state including right here in Cleveland, where he was born, and it was always good to hear and talk with and learn from him. Ben was known as a master of the haiku form, but was accomplished in a wide array of other poetic forms as well. And he was always generous with his time and knowledge. 

Here is a brief clip I recorded of Ben on the occasion of our first meeting:

Sadly, Ben passed away near the end of February following a battle with Covid-19. Our deepest condolences go out to his wife Willa and the rest of his family and everyone who loved him.

A celebration of Ben's life will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, March 7, 2021 at the Norwalk Masonic Hall, 319 E. Main St, Norwalk, OH 44857.

Read his obituary in the Norwalk Reflector:

And here's one more short clip from that day in Sandusky:

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

March 4th: Heights Arts Live Streams Ekphrastacy

From our friends at Heights Arts....

Join us March 4th for a special live stream of our Ekphrastacy program!

The Ekphrastacy literary program is a series of artist talks + poetry readings held regularly in the Heights Arts gallery (when possible), in conjunction with our special exhibitions.

Cleveland-area writers are invited by the current Poet Laureate to view the installed artworks and respond with a poem.

To accommodate to this year's special circumstances, we are presenting the Ekphrastic event through a Facebook live stream. Tune in on Thursday, March 4th to view poets Kisha Foster, Ray McNiece, Josiah Quarles, and Michelle R. Smith present poems they wrote in response to work in our current exhibition Posing the Question at our space on Lee Road.

All poets were selected by Cleveland Heights Poet Laureate, Ray McNiece.


Streaming Information:

Date / Time:
Thursday, March 4th at 7 PM ET


Heights Arts' Facebook
Heights Arts' Website

Learn more on the Heights Arts website.

More Information

Thursday, February 25, 2021

What's Up with Ray McNiece?

Jordan Davis, for CoolCleveland, catches up with Cleveland Heights Poet Laureate Ray McNiece "as he reflects on his travels, current projects and passing the torch to future poets of all ages...." 

And check out Ray's online poetry workshops. More details at

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Virtual Valentine's Day reading

 Laurie Kincer writes:

Dear poets,


Here’s a special gift for you on Valentine’s Day: Honey Bell-Bey, Cuyahoga County Poet Laureate, is the featured reader at tomorrow’s Second Sunday Poets. A spoken word poet, Ms. Bell-Bey has been in the news frequently over the years as the founder and director of The Distinguished Gentlemen, a poetry recitation and performance group for young men ages 12-21.


Register here to receive a Zoom link at 2 p.m. for the 3 p.m. eventSecond Sunday Poets - Cuyahoga County Public Library (


Bring one or two of your own poems to read during the open mic, with the suggested theme of love (keeping it PG-rated). You’re also welcome just to tune in to listen.


Stay well and warm,



Laurie Kincer

Writing Specialist


Cuyahoga County Public Library

South Euclid-Lyndhurst Branch

William N. Skirball Writers' Center

1876 South Green Road / South Euclid, OH 44121     

216.382.4880 / 216.382.4584


Cuyahoga County Public Library

Administrative Offices                                               

2111 Snow Road / Parma, OH 44134     

216.749.9309 / 216.485.9851

Photo credit: Adrian Hood

Sunday, January 24, 2021

"Cleveland Poets See Amanda Gorman's Words As 'Tools' To Teach"

Cuyahoga County Poet Laureate Honey Bell-Bey
celebrating Vice President Kamala Harris with students
at Wade Elementary School on Inauguration Day. [Honey Bell-Bey]

Read the full article by Jenny Hamel at ideastream®.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

The Bookshop Podcast features Mac's Backs and Larry Smith

This week on The Bookshop Podcast, host Mandy Jackson-Beverly talks to northern Ohio lit icons Suzanne DeGaetano of Mac's Backs Books on Coventry and Larry Smith of Bottom Dog Press:

Listen on Spotify, Podcast Addict, PlayerFM or BuzzSprout.

Mac's Backs:

Larry Smith:

Sunday, January 10, 2021

The City, January 2021


artwork by smith
art by smith

It's been far too long since we've seen a new issue of The City, Lady Smith's 'zine of art and poetry, but here it is, the January 2021 issue!

"I’m interested in the concept of the city as center of culture. The city is a symbol of the womb, of civilization, of collected human experience. The city is something that is very old. The city is something holy. The city is something natural. The city is something akin to a coral colony. The city is a legitimate human function. The city means that we have moved beyond subsistence and into something more collective. Rather than being estranged from the land, the city is dependent on the land."

Monday, January 4, 2021

George Saunders Thinks Social Media Is Killing Us

I find it interesting that I encountered this interview with Lincoln in the Bardo author George Saunders shortly after I began my January social media hiatus. 

"There’s something wonderful about the spontaneity of social media, but I think at this point it’s becoming 100% toxic for people to be firing off the top of their brains. One of the things [my new] book says is that the deeper parts of our brain are actually more empathic. If you revise something 20 times, for a mysterious reason, it becomes more social, empathic and compassionate. With Chekhov, you feel he’s always saying: “Well, what else?”, “Is there anything else I should know?”, or “Maybe I’m wrong.” And all of that seems to be designed to foster love, or at least some kind of relation to the other that’s got possibility. So I’m not a fan of social media. I’m not on it. And I won’t be, because I think it’s killing us, actually. I really do."

Read the rest of what Saunders has to say in The Guardian.

And you can pre-order his new book, A Swim in a Pond in the Rain: In Which Four Russians Give a Master Class on Writing, Reading, and Life, from Mac's Backs.


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