New National Poet Laureate

08/04/07 | by steveg [mail] | Categories: Poetry, personal, humor, rant

Amazing that our government can do such a good job at selecting laureates when the head of it all can barely read....(snark). Charles Simic is one of the few contemporary poets I have read something from, not cause I'm stuck in the Beats,but cuz I'm trying to educate myself past the evil that was Mrs. Koski, embodiment of 10th grade English teacher incompetence. Simic was a name that came up in a random google I did looking for modern poets. Congrats to him.

charles simicHey Bilgere, how bout getting him to John Carroll for a reading? He's Yugoslav so he probably will have a drink with us.

NEW YORK (Reuters) - American poet Charles Simic was named on Thursday as the United States' 15th poet laureate by the Library of Congress which described his poetry as accessible with some flashes of ironic humor.

Simic, 69, who was born in Yugoslavia but immigrated to the United States when he was 16, will take up his duties in the fall, opening the Library's annual literary series, the Librarian of Congress James Billington said in a statement.

The position was created 70 years ago to raise national awareness and appreciation of reading and writing of poetry.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning poet succeeds Donald Hall and joins a list of distinguished poets who have served in the position, including Ted Kooser, Louise Gluck, Billy Collins, Stanley Kunitz, Robert Pinsky, Robert Hass, Rita Dove and Robert Penn Warren.

"The range of Charles Simic's imagination is evident in his stunning and unusual imagery. He handles language with the skill of a master craftsman, yet his poems are easily accessible, often meditative and surprising," said Billington.

"He has given us a rich body of highly organized poetry with shades of darkness and flashes of ironic humor."

Simic has written 18 books of poetry and is also an essayist and translator. He taught at the University of New Hampshire for 34 years.

He won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1990 for his book of prose poems "The World Doesn't End" and has a list of other awards and fellowships to his name.

Simic, who lives in Strafford, New Hampshire, arrived in the United States in 1954 and said he started writing poetry in high school to get girls' attention.

"I am especially touched and honored to be selected because I am an immigrant boy who didn't speak English until I was 15," said Simic who will publish a new book of poetry, "That Little Something," in February next year.

The post of poet laureate dates back to 1937 when the position was called "consultant in poetry to the Library of Congress." The name was changed by an act of Congress in 1985.

Laureates receive a $35,000 annual award with the term lasting one or two years. The Library said it tries to minimize specific duties so laureates can work on their own projects.

Laureate Nites at the Lit

08/02/07 | by steveg [mail] | Categories: Poetry

I know that you have all missed the pithy, clever promos for the Literary Cafe monthly poetry while I've been screwing around pretending to know how to do web coding and database queries. Well, be ready to be disappointed again. I got nothing but the facts.

So the fact is that for a change we are going to have a poetry reading at the Literary Cafe (1031 Literary Road Cleveland) next Thursday August 9 It also just so happens to be the second thursday of the month. That would make for a good regular day for a poetry reading. We will start at 9:30 PM, yes, really 9:30 pm. Do not listen to the rumors of our lax promptness even if they come from poet laureates (yeah, you Loren Weiss! You too, Jack McGuane!).

maryweemsSpeaking of Poet Laureates, one of our feature readers is the newly appointed Poet Laureate of Cleveland Heights, Mary Weems. Mary is an accomplished poet, playwright, author, performer, motivational speaker, and imagination-intellect theorist. Her work has been widely published in journals including the African American Review and xcp:Cultural Poetics, anthologies including Spirit & Flame: An Anthology of African American Poetry and Boomer Girls, and several books including Public Education and the Imagination-Intellect: I Speak from the Wound in My Mouth (Lang, 2003), which argues for imagination-intellectual development as the primary goal of public education. She won the Wick Chapbook Award for her collection white in 1996, and in 1997 her play "Another Way to Dance" won the Chilcote award for The Most Innovative Play by an Ohio Playwright. Her most recent collection of poems Tampon Class (Pavement Saw Press, 2005) is in its second printing. Mary Weems currently teaches in the English and Education departments at John Carroll University. More importantly, she give great hugs.

josephmakkosOur other feature is JS Makkos. It has been said that Joseph have traveled all over the country, meeting poets, reading in eclectic venues, and managed to get an MFA from some well respected university. I, however, have never seen his passport or visas. I did witness him sleeping facedown in the dust next to a dead campfire that he stoked to Bessemer proportions all night. I have seen him eschew the somnambulant urge in exchange for mental masturbation. He is the founder of the Language Foundry, sponsored a 24 hour poetry marathon, a publisher, and, of course, a poet.

So dems da facts. All you have to do is show up and have a good time. Bring some poems to share on the open mike after the features, or write some after you show up and had a couple drinks.

Its all good.

I Have Been Accused

08/01/07 | by steveg [mail] | Categories: Poetry

Once in a while, I'm taken back when somebody tells me that I wasn't what they thought I was. Not an easy thing to respond to, however Charles Baudelaire (a goddamn genius for sure) in his essay "Crowds" in "Spleen of Paris" wrote:

The poet enjoys the incomparable privilege of being at will himself and someone else. Like those wandering souls looking for a body, he enters, when he wishes to, the personality of each man. For him alone, everything is opened; if certain places seem closed to him, that is because for him they are not worth the trouble of being visited.

Quiet ...

07/31/07 | by steveg [mail] | Categories: Poetry

doesn't mean lonely, necessarily. The blog was silent, I hardly spoke to anyone in the blogosphere. In fact I kept to myself most of the time, but as D.H. Lawrence wrote in "Corot":

Ah listen, for Silence is not lonely:
Imitate the magnificent trees
That speak no word of their rapture, but only
Breathe largely the luminous breeze.

*blissful sigh*

Caving to the Pressure

07/30/07 | by steveg [mail] | Categories: personal, humor, rant

Way back, like in December, Former OCCA director now Director of GrassRoots.com and hell of a fun lady, Angela Stuber tagged me to list 5 little known facts. I ignored it, chuckled that she picked me (like I got a friend on the internet), and then read the personal factoids like a snorting voyeur in the red district. Credit to Angela, she never hounded me on dropping the ball. I tend to ignore these internet games that get sent around like goofy surveys, .... It equates to the technoversion of the chain letter.

However, last May TWO buddies, Jim of Vitruvious fame and fantabulous artchick/DJ Ginley, smacked me with the meme and now I am to list TEN little known facts of myself. I have been corralled and the Andromeda Strain is growing.

So to stop the nagging, I relent and list what is left of my private neurosis for all to mock.

  1. I am a gregarious loner. Love to be social, be around people, go to events. But I equally or even more so like to be alone (such a pleasure after 9 years of cohabitation/marriage.)
  2. I have been learning to draw, thanks to the Tremont Pretentious Artists at the Literary Cafe on Friday nights(tho not so much the last couple of months). The improvement has been from middle-school Simpson cartoons to shading and depth and sketches that look like the subject. Thanks to Tim Herron and Brian Pierce for the informal lessons, tips, and encouragement.
  3. I had three years of Kung-Fu training during the 70's. First fight I got into with it, had my ass kicked. Thanks Jerome Mackey, muthaf'er.
  4. Played the trumpet for four years during the impressionable age. Unfortunately, instead of Miles Davis, I was impressed with Snorky of the Banana Splits. Traded it in for a harmonica.
  5. I'm fascinated by Gay culture. I'm very straight, but the kind of things our gay neighbors face remind me of much I faced as a jew growing up. Gays cross all socio-economic lines, races, religions, you name it. Just like jews (except for the religion part). And despite "gaydar", no-one can really tell from looking, just like no-one can tell who's jewish. (William Shatner? Really?) I've had my fights over the jewish thing (see number 3), and I know that many of my gay friends had to defend themselves more than once. Go watch the Gregory Peck film, "Gentleman's Agreement."
  6. During the entire 5 years I lived in Texas right after college, I didn't get laid. Except for the very last night, New Years Eve. Hung over and driving a U-Haul, I was grinning very widely.
  7. I never failed a class in college and at Duke that was saying something. I did, however, get a D- in biomechanics.
  8. In a middle school performance of "Fiddler on the Roof," my voice cracked during my solo song as Perchik, the end of a promising acting career.
  9. In 7th grade, I was hit by a car on the way to a soccer game. I suffered a scrapped up face, black eye, and a bruised kidney. A week later another kid was hit by a car on the way to football practice and died. The school district instituted shuttle buses for athletes to get around to the various fields.
  10. I'm a lingual chameleon. I fall into whatever accent of whomever I'm speaking to for more than an hour.

And just as bonus cuz I took so long to post: I didn't read, listen, write, or pay any attention to poetry from 1978 to 1994.

I'm not tagging anybody else for this in an attempt to stop the madness. I guess that means my little boys are going to dry up and fall off.

I'm Back I'm Back I'm Back I'mBack....

07/29/07 | by steveg [mail] | Categories: Announcements [A]

I'm back I'm b.. you get the idea.

Months of trying to hack out why those errors came up after migrating to my new host finally resulted in answers and solutions and in WITB back on line.

So those of you emailed, wanting to know if I was dead...
no, only my software, database skills.

Those that thot I was permanently leaving the NEOblogosphere...
no, there was a good chance of leaving NEO for mystic points east
and tho the poetic parts of my writing have taken precedent, I will blog til the above rumor is true.

I've got lots of things I wanted to point out (even eco-political crap again), neat quotes from my reading, and of course poetry readings to pimp, So stay tuned for some content for a change.

Damn, it feels good to post again.
.....now for that pesky TwiFi site....

Thanks Fer Yur Support

05/10/07 | by steveg [mail] | Categories: Poetry

My reading at Mac's Backs came off great, despite the growing global conspiracy against Steven B coolness. (You can see what Steven B Smith has had to endure in Morocco here.) For this Steven B Goldberg, it manifested by responding to appointments I had made yesterday.

I scheduled a car check out for this morning, but when I wanted to run to Coventry for burger and brew before the reading, my transmission went out and I had to get a tow out work's parking lot. I managed to bum a ride to Cleveland Heights from Adam Harvey and just made it to the reading.

Since I didn't get my burgers (and dammit the brews neither!), I ran to get a slice of pizza during the break. Wouldn't cha know, I lost a filling wolfing that down. Did I mention that I also scheduled a dentist appointment that day? A haircut appointment, I'd be bald. I don't even want to think of a proctology exam.

Decided to pull a Lang and take a picture to remember one of these rare times I get to feature read. Tere Maher was magnificent and Carmen Tracey threw out images that shook up that old bookstore. Glad I didn't have follow either one.

Thanks to everybody that came out to hear me read. thanks to Adam the driver, Russ Vidrick, Charlotte Mann, Alma Chopra, Katy Daley, Miles Budimir, Joseph Makkos, Marsha Sweet, Wendy Shaffer, and George Bilgere.

I apologize if you were standing in the back or if missed you. Know that I appreciate your coming out as well. A special thank you to Suzanne DeGaetano for giving me this opportunity to read where so many great poets have been before.

Duende

05/07/07 | by steveg [mail] | Categories: Poetry, Blogging

Fresh from the Jawbone buzz in Kent, I am thinking about the where that the need to write something as thankless as poems comes from.

Federicio Garcia Lorca smacked me in the head with this:

Angel and muse come from without. The angel gives light, the muse gives forms... golden bread or folds of the tunic; the poet recieves rules in his shrubbery of laurels. Yet the daemon has to be wakened in the ultimate recesses of the blood. It means to reject the angel and kick out the muse. To shed all awe of the fragrence of violets which eighteenth-century poetry exhales, and all awe of the great telescope in whose lenses the muse falls asleep, sick of limits. The true struggle is with the duende, the daemon.

Thankless,Ineffective, Ignored, but the Spanish Fascists still had Lorca executed. What of Vaclev Havel of the Czech Republic? I wonder what it is that power-mongers are afraid of, the poets. the poems, or the duende?

Keep the Internet Free!

Back to Backs

05/04/07 | by steveg [mail] | Categories: Poetry

Remember how warm you tried to get, cozing up with your sweetheart in February? Remember how you wanted to get in the mood by listening to me verbositize at Mac's Backs? Remember that you looked out your window to see the weather, but culdn't cuz everything was WHITE!

Well, Me, Carmen Tracey, and Terre Maher are rescheduled to read at Mac's Wednesday May 9 at 7:00. I hope to have some new stuff and refined old ready, but go to get woken up by Carmen. That little lady has much soul.

Also, I will still be open for some sympathy from young neo-hippy girls that hang around Coventry in a timewarp. Please don't touch the beret, unless you mean it.

See ya there. Mac's Backs is at 1820 Coventry Rd in Cleveland Hghts.

Post National Poetry Month Trauma Syndrome

05/01/07 | by steveg [mail] | Categories: Poetry


If you have been going to all the National Poetry Month events around the region, you may be thinking that you survived. Even tho the Jawbone in Kent is this weekend, sort of bleeding into the May flower power, you can take a breath and congratulate yourself.

However, if you find yourself waking in the middle of the night with the sweats and shouting "If I contradict myself, so be it. For I am large!",or that weekly report has an iambic cadence, or you wonder if you can make a sestina out of the names of the seven dwarfs, if only a tree fell on Doc, then you may have Post National Poetry Month Trauma Syndrome (PNPMTS)

Experts have advised after two Rolling Rocks, a shot of Old Poltrero, and a Jameson's neat, that the best way to treat PNPMTS (pronounced "pinpmets") to gradually wean away from the obsession with progressively less uproarous, sensibility snapping, juice roiling spoken words.

Fortunately, Don Ianonne and Michael Ceraolo, the features for this month's Literary Cafe Poetry academy and donut stand Nite of a thousand twitches (Thurs May 10 at 9:30pm) is exactly what the doctor prescribes.

Michael Ceraolo is a civil servant and poet who says he's trying to overcome a middle-class upbringing. He has had over 600 poems published in nearly a hundred journals, such as Impetus, Green Fuse, San Fernando Poetry Journal, and Tamafyhr Mountain Poetry. He has published the book, Cleveland Haiku, with Green Panda Press, and his most recent book is Euclid Creek, which traces the origins of Euclid Creek and proceeds to illuminate hundreds of years of Northeast Ohio history as it meanders like the flow of water through people, places and events. Euclid Creek is with Deep Cleveland Press. [kudos to Marcus Bales for this bio and Wendy Shaffer for the photo.]

Don Iannone is a poet living in Cleveland, Ohio. By day, Don runs a strategic planning and organization development consulting company, and by night he writes poetry.

Don grew up in Eastern Ohio in the 1950s and 1960s. His early years have had a deep influence on his poetry. Like the Pulitzer Prize winning poet James A. Wright, Don comes from Martins Ferry and he writes often about his hometown. While he has written poetry throughout his life, he has seriously dedicated himself to poetry writing only over the past four years.

Overall, Don’s poetry is shaped by three underlying influences: his spiritual journey and the deeper questions it raises; the beauty and inspiration found in all aspects of nature; and the power and meaning of everyday life. Don believes all of us have a tendency to overlook the importance of everyday life. Too often, we miss the beauty, inspiration and meaning found in everyday life.

Don is the author of two published poetry books. Stilling the Waters was published in 2005 by Medicine Wheel Publishing, and Walks in Life’s Sacred Garden, which will be released in May 2007 by BookSurge. A number of his poems also have been published in several online poetry journals.

Luxurious words by two masters of the pen, crafted and buffed into velvety softness that will lull that trauma right out of existence. And if that doen't work, Andy will have a special Buy Two, Get Two beer promotion.

So get treatment Thursday, May 10 at 9:30pm. The Literary Cafe is at 1031 Literary Road in historestaurantical Tremont neighborhood. Clicky for mappy, Happy.

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