Spring in Cleveland is paradise unfolding. So soon after the snow, riding the wind like a bronco busting Dervish, in the calm, after the showers, we get green unfolding. Growth like the not-so-Greater Cleveland Partnership can only fantasize about. Grass pokes up from the muddy brown ground. Yellow splashes of daffodils hold hands with red tulips on the treelawn. SPRING! Ahh that wonderful rebirth we all long for, that reminds us of hope and ..… what’s that smell, so clean and fresh? Is it the stench of lilac, the dogwood stink, or magnolia smell? No, my friends, that is the perfume of love. It permeates the staleness of enclosed catacombs and when it wafts in….we look for someone to hug. Yes HUG, freely given, freely received. Giver and Receiver is confused and for an instant there is only the oneness of a couple. Lust is banished and we are all divine in that moment of embrace when we see a good friend….or a new friend. HUGS. A child can do it as well as a grandmother and at the Literary Café, where the motto is always, we emphasize and celebrate FREE HUGS. This Thursday, May 14 at 9:30pm, the HUG FEST will begin with poets, Nin Andrews and Michael McMahan, who have much to say on love and on hugs.
Nin (Natalie) Andrews has a new book, Sleeping with Houdini, out from BOA Editions and a really fun chapbook, Dear Professor, Do You Live in a Vacuum, out from Subito. Her next book, Southern Comfort, will be published by CavanKerry Press some day. She was the recipient of an Ohio Arts Council grant in 1998 and again in 2004. Her work has been published in many literary reviews and anthologies, including Ploughshares, The Paris Review, and Best American Poetry 1997, 2001, 2003 and The Best of the Prose Poem (2006). She has authored several collections including Why They Grow Wings, Midlife Crisis with Dick and Jane and The Book of Orgasms and has won many chapbook contests and the Gerald Cable Award . Nin lives in Poland…Ohio and celebrates Dyngus Day with her bass playing physicist husband and two children. She also gives great hugs.
Michael McMahan is a working class poet and small press publisher. His work includes Poems for Republicans, A McDonald's Sex Poem, and Waters Edge; He's a BGSU graduate; Received the 2007 Rudinger Arts Award for Small Press Publishing. Has been published in the Literary Review, Firelands, and Green Panda Press; Served on the Board of Directors for Bottom Dog Press; Started FREEDONIA PRESS which has published Poet Russell Salamon's latest book in we all at the Lit are considerably mentioned. In 2008 he received the assistanceship for book-Arts and Paper-Making at The Morgan Conservatory; and works for Mark Kuhar's Balanced Living Magazine when he isn’t practicing his hugs with Italio-ukrainian poets. (Doesn’t even need silvowitz.)
Yup, with these two on the line-up, the hugs will be flying. If you’re shy, I’ll gleefully give private hug lessons until you feel confident. Let’s bring in the spring with hearty embraces and keep it going until winter chills our loins. The Literary Café is at 1031 Literary Road in the huggingest neighborhood called Tremont in Cleveland.
If remembering a day when someone was sitting around a garden waiting for leather clad ruffians to come and take them off to be executed makes a Friday good, then the second Thursday of National Poetry Month is a Better Thursday especially if you have two of the better poets in the city, the region, the state, and, yes, even the country, coming to the Literary Cafe to read. This Thursday, April 9 at the crooning hour of 9:30 PM, we have legendary poets Jim Lang and Maj Ragain reading and speaking, and teaching us the secrets and esoteric meaning of the pussy willow of Dyngus Day. If you had anything to do with the poetry in northeast Ohio in the last few decades, you should know these two. If you don't know them, here is your chance.
Jim Lang is a poet, photographer, potter, philosopher, publisher, and poartist who frequently accompanies his readings with multimedia visual works. He has been the open mic host for the 3rd Saturday poetry reading at The Bookstore on West 25th Street forever and gave a Bagozine of poetry, tea, pennies, incense and none-sense each month to everyone who attends. Jim, the accomplished photographer has been stealing the soul of most every poet who has passed through Cleveland as far back as d.a. levy & Charles Dickens. He gratefully edited issue #9 of ArtCrimes and coedited issues #15 and 17 and has published many chapbooks of his own and other's poetry. I personally think he is the man behind the curtain, pulling levers and yanking at strings, the svengali of Cleveland's poetry scene, head of the literary shadow government, yet hides as a cantankerous full time professional curmudgeon, but an oddly a nice guy even so.
Maj Ragain has been an "off and on" faculty member at Kent State University since 1969, where he obtained a Ph.D in 1990. An active representative of poetry in the Kent community (where he has resided permanently since 1980), he served for twenty years as host to the open poetry readings at the Brady Cafe and now at the Standing Rock Cultural Center on North Water Street. He has published quite few books and chaps over the years, not enough for one of his talent and stature. Fresh Oil, Loose Gravel appeared in (Ohio's Burning Press.) was a finalist in the 1996 Chilcote Awards of Excellence for Poetry. Some of my favorites are Twist The Axe: A Horseplayer's Story ( Bottom Dog Press 2001) and the masterful A Hungry Ghost Surrenders His Tacklebox.(Pavement Saw Press 2006). His stirring eulogy at Daniel Thompson's Memorial Service, moved me, a still closeted poet, to write an epic poem on missed opportunity around the margins of the program. I quoted him in my report for CoolCleveland.com, not knowing Maj or his name, but knowing who he is from his words. Since then, I have stolen lines from his poems and his conversation. He has introduced me to Jameson's of the brown tears, the spirit that brings spirit. We have compared picks for the Kentucky Derby after another successful Jawbone Festival, the largest open mic festival in the country and one that revolves around his presence like the planets around the bright warm sun.
Thursdays just can’t be better when these masters of the word come together and share their enthusiasm. Rumor has it that miracles will occur on this day before Good Friday. Lang may be kindly and optimistic and Maj may give him a standing ovation. Personally, I feel I can claim them both as friends for their openness, their encouragement, and their welcome to this geeked out engineer of a noobie to the wonderful world of verse. Such is their joy to come to the Literary Café that Lang has put together one of his signature flyers with word-art and both of their artful words to hand out and Maj has been quoted that he hopes that the flyer eating buffalos will come to graze.
The Literary Café is located at 1031 Literary Road in the MAJestic and LANGuishing Tremont neighborhood of Cleveland.
Faith and Beggorah! Tis only the lucky or the Irish that get to warm up to dear St. Pat with some fine brogue spoken poetry from a lovely lassie and lovable leprechaun. The beer may not yet have the green sheen, but the Literary Café is sure to have the Irish hijinx of Johnny Jameson and Sons or Bushmill’s fresh elixir on this 2nd Thursday, March 12 at 9:30pm. Never you mind the Lenten, cause only the snakes that our dear friend Patrick chased away will not be welcome. Beside, dispensation goes to all who celebrate a great saint even if his day falls during a period of Spartan restraint. So who are the players in this Irish wake?
The lass from County Portage is none other than Mary Biddinger. Born in the western foreign county Alameda, near the clan lands of Fremont, she escaped and was reared by kind folk of the central lands of Illinois and Michigan. Mary is the author of Prairie Fever (Steel Toe Books, 2007), and the Editor of the Akron Series in Poetry. She also serves on the Open Competition Editorial Committee for the Cleveland State University Poetry Center. In 2007 she founded the independent literary magazine Barn Owl Review, which is releasing its second issue in the spring of 2009. Her work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in 32 Poems, Fifth Wednesday Journal, Gulf Coast, The Laurel Review, Memorious, Ninth Letter, North American Review, /nor, Third Coast, and many other journals. Mary teaches literature and creative writing courses, with a focus on Modern, contemporary, and world poetry at the University of Akron and NEOMFA: Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts program, which she will begin directing in the summer of 2009.
From nearby county Lucas, banding about the Toledo heath, our other reader is known to wield a word like a shillelagh. Michael Grover is a wanderer of the land and has earned the title King of the Beards. This leprechaun has shared his pot of gold in literary underground in places like Cause & Effect, Citizen 32, Alphabeat Soup, The San Gabriel Poetry Quarterly, Mad Poets Review, Philadelphia Poets and the anthologies One Drop: To Be The Color Black, West Memphis Witchhunt, and My Time: The Lunch Break Book and online including www. saintvituspress. com, www. outsiderwriters. org, www. getunderground. com, www.dyingwriters. com, DecomP Literary Magazine, Zygote In My Coffee, Redfez. net, Whirlygig Zine, and Beat The Dust. Mike is a publisher with his Covert Press and has authored a number of chapbooks that he will indubitably pimp throughout the evening.
Heaven shines upon our little piece of Eire and sheds a wee bit of green during the gusty early Spring with the fine fealty of these bards of the old ways. Come to listen to the kyrie by these language artists and feel the sun on the potato fields back home, Thursday March 12 at 9:30 in the even. The Literary Café is at 1031 Literary Road in the Lucky neighborhood of Tremont, County Cuyahoga.
That is, we pimp ourselves, AND WHY NOT! We are fabulous without being fully gay. We are beautiful, especially when we take off our shirts. We are disgusting in that attractive, rubbernecking way.
We are reading together at Lix and Kix on Tuesday February 17. 806 Wine and Martini Bar is where we will just make it up as we go along.
Beware, I used to get drunk there ALOT. It may happen again and you poet groupies might get a chance at this lusciousness (lush-yness?)
I'm going to this, not just for the hotness of Neve's reading (and Neve's personal hotness) but it will be Tremont's favorite bookstore's second anniversary. What could be more erotic?
Ten score years ago, in a log cabin of Kentucky, on this, the second Thursday of February 12, the same as the Literary Café Poetry series, born was the President that kept our nation together by guile, compassion, and force. I speak of Abraham Lincoln, temporary tyrant of the northern union during the early 1860’s, the Cincinnatus of the New World, arguably the most respected of American presidents.
Come to the Literary Café on February 12 at 9:30 pm for our tribute to Honest Abe Yes, this, the ACTUAL date of his birth, before the government he so defended moved it around “for convenience,” the same cabal that once defined pi as equal to 3, instead of the irrational number that starts as 3.1417. (If the prefix, con, is the opposite of pro; then does that make congress the opposite of progress?).
And, YES, we will have that contest I wrote about 2 months ago, with a fabulous prize of massive poetic value thanks to the Language Foundry. The Lit Café Famous Poet Identification contest is to name the famous poets in the audience in a cartoon from a recent issue of Poetry magazine. Our feature poets, Terre Maher and
Jason Venner Robert Frasier, will be there to inspire and maybe give hints .
Robert Fraser is the lead man of the poetry/ecletic band Hobo Monk. HB played at the Zygote in My City Festival where I was feature and they blew my mind with Frasier's verbal frolick. His first Book: Poems for the Short-Term Memory was published in 2007, by Cornerstone Books. It highlights the ridiculousness of modern life in our Monetary society, and the search for something more meaningful and real. Other than writing, Robert claims he works like everyone else and studys the Native American ways of living off the land.
Jason Venner recently graduated from the NEOMFA program based in UAkron, where he is an instructor. At a reading at Visible Voice last spring, he impressed me with maintaining his punkish edge while expressing his verse in sophisticated techniques that a good MFA program can provide. He has been published in The Akros, Luna Negra, The Penguin Review, and The Magazine of Speculative Poetry, and I believe in Barn Yard Review.
I first heard Terre Maher when we shared the venue at Mac’s Backs in February 2007. It was an interesting evening where she had to follow a poet (not me) that had striking hard core imagery and bludgeoning verbal style. She maintained composure as she changed her repertoire on the fly and softened the atmosphere so the audience was warmed and comfortable. This is the professionalism that Terre Maher keeps in both her writing and her art. Terre writes with clarity, insight, and music. She has done the illustrations for Naomi Shihab Nye’s “A Maze Me”, publish by Harper Collins.
So come out of the cold, get a warm dose of poetry with a libation chaser Thursday, February 12 at 9:30 pm at the Literary Café, 1031 Literary Road in the free and united neighborhood of Tremont in Cleveland.
The contest at the Lit Cafe Poetry Reading is postponed for a number of reasons. Mostly I'm a lazy bastard and disorganized and too winter-blasted to follow through on a good idea. Also, I'm too stupid to figure out all the poets.
But I'll do my best to get things up and running on our next poetry night in February.
(Remember we are on hiatus for January).
Like many last month, I was feeling the change in weather. The self-abuse done in the name of poetry caught up with me and I had to duck out of last month’s Literary Café reading. Stayed as long as I could and I was able to hear our fabulous features (they both showed up) as wellas long missed Jack McGuane and the reading virgin Neve Black at the open mike. Unfortunately, I missed a couple of other new faces and voices and regret both not experiencing them and not being there to support the newbies. I know the first time I got up and read to a crowd, I felt like everybody in the audience were experienced and accomplished poets, waiting to judge and deem me a literary failure. (They may still be right). I know how an encouraging word or a friendly nod can help overcome the abject nudity of reading your inner thoughts aloud.
A cartoon from a recent issue of Poetry magazine represented that nauseous terror of publically speaking our art. In it, a reader is at a podium and the audience is of the famous poeticrati. Though our feature readers, Elise Geither and Jayce Renner are far from being new to the microphone nor unfamiliar with the staring eyes of strangers (In fact, one or both of them receive puzzled gazes as they walk down the street), we will have a contest in their honor. So this Thursday December 11 at 9:30pm, the Lit Café Famous Poet Identification contest will have the audience name the famous poets in the crowd of the above mentioned cartoon. The winner with the most correct identifications will win something, maybe of value, or maybe a position with Homeland Security.
I might add that neither Nick, Nick’s evil brother Dick, nor I are eligible. Our talented feature poets will show grace under the pressure of our attention, but then our features are exempt from the contest. However, they are already winners since their selection as feature readers.
Elise Geither has long been in the Cleveland literary scene starting as many have, as a horse lover and keeper of riding crops. Many of her poems reflect that love and collection and yet avoids the topic of death, an easy downward spiral that I do not understand. Perhaps it is because she also is an accomplished playwright and interviewer (one question) of my heartthrob namesake, Stevie Nicks. Elise’s poems have appeared in Morpo, Big City Lit, Thundersandwich, Slant, and the Artful Dodge among others. She has had plays produced in NYC, LA, and around California and Ohio. Her play "the Poet's Box" was produced in LA and "Zephyr House" was an off-off broadway finalist. Her latest play, "Prom for Angel" debuted at The Blue Room in California. Her collection of monologues, "Horse Latitudes" (deepcleveland press) was presented as part of a summer theater workshop, of which she is thankful to her horse Mighty Thunder Cloud. Elise teaches ESL at Baldwin Wallace University and is finishing her PhD.
Jayce Renner has been writing and reading in Northeast Ohio since his early years at Kent State University where he got a degree in sculpture in 1999. One of those underground famous personalities, he sponsors an exclusive poetry retreat at his family cabin where the woods, bonfires, Yeungling, and an outhouse mingle with poets, vagabonds, and cowboy coffee to create an experiential nexus of creativity or tomfoolery, depending on your perspective. In the public world, Jayce is usually recognized by reading his poems from his PDA. He published one of his first poems in his school's newspaper in Sewickley, Pennsylvania, and had been a number of local anthologies including Whiskey Island, Art Crimes, and 3x5. He is a highly regarded regular at Kent’s Jawbone Poetry Festival, and he works as a technology consultant for a marketing agency though we don’t hold it against him. Keeping Jayce on the straight and narrow are three cats and long-time girlfriend Connie, when she’s not napping.
So help deter nervousness, win a prize of questionable worth and hear top notch poetry as is the usual at the Literary Café, this Thursday December 11 at 9:30pm. The Lit is located at 1031 Literary Road in the comforting Tremont neighborhood of Cleveland. (Photo of Elise by Jesus Crisis. I just stole Jayce's.)
Where the hell have I been? Well, I was poetry partying with buds that I met in KC. Thanks to C.Allen Rearick and Brian Fugett, we had our own outlaw, underground, small press poetry festival. The details are below and I apologize for not let you know beforehand.
Since you missed it, I'll sum it up for you....IT WAS A BLAST!
Yup, I was one of the features.
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