Real Americans Listen to Poetry

07/07/08 | by steveg [mail] | Categories: Poetry, Literary Cafe

Star spangled madness continues at the Lit Café poetry extravaganza this Thursday, July 10 at 9:30pm. Never have bigger patriots been swarming around the Literary Café in anticipation of these great Americans. Yes, I speak of prophets from far West and not-so-far South. I speak of David Smith and Theresa Gottl.

Dave’s holy name in Mecca is Handsome Duke Deal and flying in on his magic carpet from the enigmatic city of Los Angeles, he feints humility by pouring Singapore Slings that will make your mother weep with joy. However, he gives away his true identity when he trumpets the first of many Truths that he is the best bartender you will ever know. Andy and Linda will reserve judgment. I, however, am a true believer ever since we met two years ago at the d. a. Levy fest, Rabbits over Clevyland, two years ago. There, he impressed me with his forceful readings and thought provoking words as well as charmed the hell out of me like any good bartender can. I should have left him a tip.

When Dave is not stirring and mixing the adult beverages that make people happy, he has written books that make peope happy such as Closer to Jesus, and co-authored with Scott Wannberg, Rocket’s Redglare the Handsome Duke Deal and Kid Mingo Letters. A limited edition broadside collaboration with visuals by S.A. Griffin of his poem, Genocide Sutra, has become something of a classic. He is most proud of his recent inclusion in the five-man anthology The Feedbag, written with S.A. Griffin, John Dorsey, Jason Neese and Jacob Johanson, released by Off Beat Pulp and Kill Poet. His next book, White Time, will be released by Off-Beat Pulp. In the 1980’s he was publisher and editor of Ouija Madness Press and Ouija Madness Magazine. Now he helps push words collaborating with Rose of Sharon Press.

T.M. Gottl (how do you get that umlaut?), which is the top secret probation name of Theresa Gottl, is a new poetic force to be reckoned with in Northeast Ohio. The first time I heard her read, my socks fell, my boxers got twisted, and my tongue rolled out to the floor. She pens some of the most beautiful and poignant verse I’ve heard in a long time and she know exactly how to recite them, without pretense nor over performance. Trust me folks, don’t be surprised if she’s the U.S. poet laureate in 30 years.

Hailing from Brunswick, the arts have always been important to T.M. Göttl, and she started writing stories almost as soon as she learned to hold a pencil. By high school, Göttl started filling notebooks with poems and journaling on any scrap of paper she could find. College graduation brought partial unemployment and a great big question mark about the future. But either by chance or fate, she eventually found herself among some inspiring people. She is a winner in the poetry category for the 2007 Wayne College Regional Writing Awards. The 2002-2003 edition of the literary magazine, The Mill, published some of her work, and she has performed at readings such as Wayne College’s Annual Poetry, Prose, and Acoustical Jam, the Erewhon Poetry Society, Deep Cleveland Poetry, and Gallery 324. Theresa’s first full-length collection is STRETCHING THE WINDOW! and is available for purchase. BRING MONEY!

In the middle of all things American, Tremont of the smoking melting pot, where the best and finest mingle with the not-so-good and sometimes ratty, we will pledge our allegiance to our country that still allows us to pay exorbitant prices for the privilege to pollute our air. Lead by two of the finest Americans to have jaywalked in burkas, David Smith (continuing our long line of Poetry Smiths) and T.M. Gottl (where the hell is that umlaut). Come to the Literary Café Thursday, July 10 at 9:30pm, located a 1031 Literary Road in the histrionic Tremont neighborhood of Cleveland, land of the fierce.

KC with Casey

06/17/08 | by steveg [mail] | Categories: Poetry, About me

I'm traveling to Kansas City, MO this weekend for a small press/ outlaw-underground-street poetry fandango. It will also be be my first out-of-town feature poetry reading. I'm going on friday night, the first of three different venues all weekend long.

Driving down with C. Allen Rearick and meeting Toledo Dorsey and the left coast contingent of SA Griffin, the Handsome Duke Deal (who is reading at the Lit Cafe July 10). Should be a great time, meeting new poets from 'round the country and getting reacquainted with friends from Clevyfest two years ago.

Smith Bros. Read, but Don't Cough

06/06/08 | by steveg [mail] | Categories: Poetry, Literary Cafe

At the Lit Café poetry reading series, we have never run out of talented poets to be featured readers in our hardly ever humble monthly free-for-all. And in a sub category, we seemed to have attracted more than our fair share of Smith poets. Just to reminisce a moment, we have had Steven B. Smith, Kathy Ireland Smith (both a rare two times), and Dan Smith after a heart attack. That could count as 5 Smiths. To be fair we had a Jones in Anna Marie, but we can safely say that Smiths we got and Smiths we will show.

This month, Thursday June 12 at 9:30 pm, we will add yet another two Smiths, but as anybody will attest, no two Smiths are alike. From out west way in the shadow of Cedar Point roller coasters, on the quiescent shores of our fair Great Lake, Larry Smith and Rob Smith will spin their verse upon our heads like master weavers… or spiders.

I met Larry when he was promoting a book of Buddhism inspired poetry that he edited with Ray McNeice, American Zen. Then later when he toured with Monte Page and his flute, Larry enthralled me with his gentle interpretations of Wen Wei translations. I bought the CD. He was good enough to schlep into Cleveland from Sandusky to a reading I organized around a celebratory picnic for the Dalai Lama’s birthday, back when I didn’t know what I was doing and the poetry community was wondering who I was. His generosity to this nobody was a great example to this budding Buddhist and has been perpetually appreciated.

Larry has worked as a steel mill laborer, a high school teacher, a college professor, and a writer. A graduate of Muskingum College and Kent State University, he is the author of six books of poetry, a book of memoirs, two books of fiction, two literary biographies, a life biography, and a book of translations from the Chinese. The recently appointed Poet Laureate of Huron, Ohio, is the director of the Firelands Writing Center and Editor -in-Chief of Bottom Dog Press, Inc, has recently released a compendium of the Cleveland poetry scene, which we have pimped before and is working on a Russell Salomon book of impressions from his last visit.

Rob Smith’s writing was introduced to me by Larry, who published his first book of poetry, Two Hundred Fifty-six Zones of Gray. Known previously as a novelist, he won the 2006 Robert Frost Poetry Award for the poem "Catbird." A strong and lively reader, he has organized a new weekly reading series in the amphitheater of Huron and runs Drinian Press, a publisher of novels, theology, and soon a book of coffeehouse poetry. Rob holds a bachelor’s degree in religion and philosophy from Westminster College (Pa) and master and doctoral degrees from Princeton Theological Seminary. He teaches as an adjunct instructor at both Wright State and Bowling Green State Universities in Ohio when he is not restoring an old sloop on Lake Erie.

Though they are not THE Smith brothers, they must be psychically connected at the hip, since I have never seen them apart during the last few months. So the weather is warm, no slush to wallow through, cough drops may be available from the Smith Brothers, and poetry is thriving in Tremont. Come on down to the Literary Café this Thursday June 12 at 9:30 to see what summer time fun is like. The Lit is located at 1031 Literary Road in the hacking neighborhood of Tremont in Cleveland.

Hustle to Hessler

05/16/08 | by steveg [mail] | Categories: Poetry, About me

After a year hiatus, the Hessler Street Fair is back in business this weekend and you should get there, especial on Sunday at 12:30pm for the poetry reading. Why? Well, a rather unlikely circumstance occurred.

I entered the Hessler Street Poetry Contest that is annually held in remembrance of Daniel Thompson. I got into the anthology ($5 at the fair or at Mac's Backs) which qualified me for the finals to get on stage.

Last Wednesday, at Mac's, after I did all the pagan rituals short of dancing naked with dead chickens, it was a nice rainy day. I hoped that would keep the competition home and I could be a runaway winner, or at least a leftover winner. Well, I think we had 23-24 of the 28 anthologists with quite few good poets among them, dammit.

I tried Lebanese 3 cheek kisses, offers buying a case of books, kickbacks to the MC to help my chances. Though by my count, I figured I was somewhere between 6th or 8th, the judges felt 3rd place was more appropriate. Actually, TIED for 3rd with my friend Steve Thomas. You can now call us the 3rd Steves.

So Sunday at 12:30, the 3rd Steves, runnerup Marlena-Patrice Pugh Hammer, and winner Ralph Pitman will read our award winning poems on stage. If you can't actually be there, WRUW 91.1 FM is simulcasting the whole day.

BTW organizer, Josh "I need my purple bankkie robe" Gage did a nice job with the anthology and the hell with all those overly sensitive poet-types complaining about typos and lost lines. Hey, MY name was spelled right.

May Flowers

05/02/08 | by steveg [mail] | Categories: Poetry, Literary Cafe


Laugh, they did when in the last announcement when I predicted snow and taxes. The taxes---inevitable. The snow, flurries were seen and felt in the month of April. There is no denying, plausible or otherwise. So scoffers, in lieu of apologies, I accept cash. No checks, but picking up the tab at the Literary Café is acceptable.

Another prediction: with the aftermath of the April showers, there will be the May flowers. I never know what flowers will pop up, perennials with their consistent production of beautiful and perfume, or annuals dropped from a bird’s meal (either end) or blown in from the wind. This next Thursday, May 8 at 9:30pm at the Literary Café, the flowers of Danilee Eichorne and Tom Kryss will be blooming in their full poetic color. Tom is a perennial for sure and Danilee has popped up like an annual.

kyrssTo be anywhere connected to the Cleveland poetry scene, is know of Tom Kryss, a beautiful man and an icon of Cleveland poetry. A compatriot of d.a. levy, Tom shows what gentleness and perseverance over the decades can achieve. Born in Cleveland in 1948, he edited the school newspaper, established a literary magazine, and worked at a local suburban weekly before he was 20. After a short stint at Northwestern University, he returned to assist the defense fund efforts of James Lowell and levy. For years, Tom has printed and made poetry books outside, or at the edge, of the publishing mainstream; illustrating them with his serigraphs and those of his wife, Carolyn. Under his Ghost, Cold Mountain, and Black Rabbit Press imprints (1966-2004) he set his hand to producing editions of the poetry of such authors as Kent Taylor, Douglas Blazek, Howard McCord, Al Purdy, and D. R. Wagner. His collection of rabbit drawings, Krulik Kisiega, planned as an Ayizan Press publication by levy, was brought out by Cleveland author and publisher Steve Ferguson under the Ayizan Press imprint in 1970, two years after levy's death. His youngest daughter, Hilary, an artist and writer, remains the designated and occasionally perplexed illustrator to his own writing. In 2005, a compendium of his writing over decades, A Search for the Reason Why, was issued by Bottom Dog Press.

danileeDanilee Eichorne is the first of the Lit Café’s young regular poets that has graduated from the university of 2nd Thursday Open Mic to be come a full feature reader. She has a sweet lyrical style and a grounded sense of observation. Originally from a suburb of Philadelphia, she came to this neck of the woods to attend Oberlin College to study political science. She dropped that to concentrate on writing between the various odd jobs that artists do to get by. She now lives in the Duck Island portion of Tremont and says that poetry and storytelling have been a part of her life since she doesn't even remember when, but that the Cleveland chapter of her life has seen the largest developments of her style. We can attest to that and that is why she has graduated to star position on the microphone.

So come sniff these blossoms next Thursday, May 8 (only 4 days and 18 years since four flowers fell at Kent State) and perhaps hear Tom reminisce on that fateful day. We are at the Literary Café, 1031 Literary Rd. in the bouquet that is the Tremont neighborhood of Cleveland.

Class Dismissed

04/26/08 | by steveg [mail] | Categories: Poetry, About me

Many thanks to the near half dozen people that came to my reading Thursday at Visible Voice Books. Even a mention on CoolCleveland newsletter didn't help. It's nice to know that CC hasn't forgotten one of their early writer-contributors. I guess I'm not a draw yet by myself, but then I'm not in it for the fame or for the art, but for the chicks.

Anyway the hard corp stuck it out and here is the poem from our collaborative exercise.

Only one scruffy veil sullenly dance with vigor.

A pair of wholesome chocolates mind-shiftedly leak from religion,

Four quarrelsome figs wholeheartedly rock toward the light.

Three juicy years brazenly pull into a cheap hotel

and five silken coffins angrily motioned beyond yesterday.

Thanks sweet Allisun for the concept and the opportunity. Buy books!

What Do I Know?

04/22/08 | by steveg [mail] | Categories: Poetry, About me

Not much, but I'll share whatever it is and we'll have a good time at my next feature reading. I'll be at Visible Voice books, 9pm. See you Thursday night!

I'm a Feature Reader Sunday

04/04/08 | by steveg [mail] | Categories: Poetry, About me

Sunday is supposed to be a beautiful day and if you never been to Sandusky (it's more than Cedar Point) when it is sunny and lazy, you come out to Larry Smith's Coffeehouse Reading Series. It is held the first Sunday of the month and this Sunday, April 6, I'm reading with Miles Budimir as my sidekick complementary co-reader. I've never read where there is real sponsor before. This one is sponsored by the Firelands Writing Center of BGSU Firelands College.

The venue is at fine little cafe called Joe Sundaes, located at 1119 W. Washington Street in Sandusky. They get their coffee from Caruso and have an Astra Mega II espresso machine. I plan on pulling a few shots myself so they know how an ex-pro still has his stuff.

The fun starts at 2pm and open-mic session will follow.

Spring Time is Poetry Time

04/04/08 | by steveg [mail] | Categories: Poetry, Literary Cafe

With April, comes the promise of the end of winter, true rebirth with muddy puddles and baseball's opening day. It is also tends to mean just one more snow fall in the Cleveberg land of eternal grey. Such is ambitious expectation, so many times based on overwhelming desire for something just a little better...or warmer. Foolishness in chance. However, a sure thing is that April IS national poetry month and The Lit Cafe has evolved to a point that it NEVER disappoints. This month is no exception.

To meet the high expectation of our discerning audience for such an auspicious time, The Lit Cafe is importing a special poet from Worcester Massachusetts and having a rare REPEAT performance from one of our favorites.
dan and john
From the scant bio sent by Dan Provost and look at pics the web (including this one. Dan is on the right), you never really believe that he is a careful and serious poet. In fact you may fall into the misconception that Dan only thinks about football and beer. I quote the bio, "He is also the Head Football Coach of Keefe Tech High School in Framingham, Massachusetts." But to read his poetry, you would find that he not only thinks of other deep life thoughts of existence, but he is quite capable of expressing them beautifully. Dan has been published in numerous poetry magazines and on-line publications. He won the 2002 RC Edrington's chap contest with "The Fat Girl on Belmont Street" and his fourth chapbook,"The 21'st Century Wretch" was published in April, 2007 by Scintillating Press. He feeds his large and diverse appetites by being the Assistant Director of Graduate Services at Assumption College.

Our second poet has read at the Lit Cafe before. John Dorsey (he's the guy on the left)is well known in the underground and outsider poetry circles of country. He graced us with selections from the cooperative title "Harvey Keitel,Harvey Keitel, Harvey Keitel" done with left coasters S.A. Griffin and Scott Wannberg. He has edited Griffin's life opus, "The Numbskull Sutra" and has a new book out with Amanda Oaks called "Dreams That Would Drown Most Men." In case your wondering, Griffin designed and edited this with Dave Smith (coming to the Lit in July). John is an accomplished reader and has toured the US many times, yet, is an Artist In Residence at the Collingwood Arts
Center just next door in Toledo.

Forget about that inevitable last snow blast. Forget that taxes are due in five days. Loose yourself in this outstanding slate, worthy of National Poetry Month, so come out this, the second Thursday of the month (like every month), April 10 at 9:30pm at the Literary Cafe. Location is 1031 Literary Road in the poetic heart neighborhood of Tremont in Cleveland.

My Tibetan Teacher Makes a Statement

03/23/08 | by steveg [mail] | Categories: Buddhism

With the events in Asia, I'm anxious to go to Ann Arbor and hear His Holiness the Dalai Lama. But my dear teacher, Gelek Rimpoche, approached the crisis last Sunday in a talk.

Let's try to understand the current situation in Tibet. This has been going on for fifty years. The Communist Chinese have always been suspicious of monasteries and Buddhism. For example, in Drepung, the monastery where I was educated in Tibet, the Communists openly set up government-sanctioned committees, organizing people to spy on each other. You couldn't trust anybody - your teachers, friends, students, not even your parents. Kids were spying on their parents, students on their teachers, and disciplinary monk officials on their abbots. That is how it has been functioning for fifty years.

Close to two years ago, communist officials had the idea to ensure that the monks there didn't respect His Holiness the Dalai Lama. They made up a document that basically said: "The Dalai Lama is evil" and wanted everybody to agree by signing it. The monks refused to sign.They said their refusal had nothing to do with politics, but was purely for spiritual reasons.

The authorities arrested the monks who refused to sign and put them in jail and never released them. A few days ago, some Drepung monastery monks went into the market place to demonstrate their request for these monks to be released. They were beaten, tear gased and jailed. Turn by turn, each day following, monks from Sera, then Ganden monasteries also demonstrated, were beaten and jailed as well as nuns from various monasteries. The sound of their cries and screams were heard all over Lhasa. Everybody was crying. Eventually, some people got angry and started to throw molotow cocktails into Chinese owned shops, so there was a huge amount of destruction. The central government of China declared martial law at three am on March 14. . The whole city of Lhasa is now completely filled with soldiers and para-military that were trucked in and the Chinese government said they would violently suppress any demonstrations. The Chinese claim 10 people were killed. Tibetan sources say that more than 200 were killed -- quite a different picture.

It is very clear that the Chinese authorities have had complete control over Tibet for 50 years but failed to win the heart of the people. That is because their policies are not helping the people much. In particular the local government of Tibet is run by lesser educated officials, many of whom are relics of the Cultural Revolution. They are confused and don't understand the true situation. Their reports to the Central government in Beijing are confused and incorrect and that is why the Chinese authorities were taken by surprise by the events of the last weeks.

The local Chinese authorities also can never understand the relationship between the Dalai Lama and Buddhism. They can neither separate the two nor put them together. They are completely confused about the role of the Dalai Lama. Vilifying statements like "The Dalai Lama is nothing but a wolf covered by monk's robes, a demon with human face" clearly show the limit of knowledge and character of those making such statements.

This situation is indeed very, very sad. It really calls for international support. This can be done by people expressing their sympathy and feelings and also urging their representatives, senators and house representatives, as well as journalists in national and local media, to pay attention and try to find out the true situation.

His Holiness has threatened to resign to avoid all the violence. It was his appeal to the Tibetan people and a strong demonstration to the Chinese that he is NOT the root cause. It also reinforces why he deserved the Nobel Peace Prize.

There are still economically priced tickets available to hear the Dalai Lama in Ann Arbor April 19 and 20. The free talk on environmentalism at 2:00 Sunday was "sold" out in three hours, but there is a panel discussion on Buddhism and Art with Gelek Rimpoche, Philip Glass, and Francesco Clemente friday night. Best get reservations in for a hotel, I'm staying with a couple of dear and generous friends.

Even on Easter, it's nice to be a BuJu.

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