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All I Am Saying....

09/07/08 | by steveg [mail] | Categories: Poetry, Literary Cafe


A rare thing that our regular second Thursday Poetry Night at the Literary Café actually falls on a date that has transcending significance. This month, the month of my birth, the month of Virgos gone wild, September has our not-so-humble poetry venue falling upon the date that shattered the world view, that changed the way we treat strangers, the way we travel, what we hear, what we see, what we expect. That changed the skyline of my beloved home city. Yes, this second Thurday is 9/11 and beginning at 9:30pm we will commemorate and even celebrate this day with two of the finest poets in Cleveland, Peacenik Phil Metres and Tremont homegirl Amy Bracken Sparks.

I first met Philip Metres when we sat next to each other at dinner after a reading given by Elton Glazer at John Carroll University. He was serious, obviously intelligent, and very witty in conversation. I have enjoyed his writing in the ensuing years and has hit his stride this year by winning CSU’s Book Award with To See the Earth; by getting published in this quarter’s issue of the prestigious Field magazine; and just recently been honored by The Lit Center’s Writer and Their Friends award. Phil has been very active in the local peace movement, which makes him a very appropriate part of this evening’s program. As a poet and a translator whose work has appeared in numerous journals and in Best American Poetry (2002), his publications include the chapbooks Instants (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2006) and Primer for Non-Native Speakers (The Kent State University Press, 2004), the translation (with Tatiana Tulchinsky) Catalogue of Comedic Novelties: Selected Poems of Lev Rubinstein (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2004), and the translation A Kindred Orphanhood: Selected Poems of Sergey Gandlevsky (Zephyr Press, 2003). Recently, he published Behind the Lines: War Resistance Poetry on the American Homefront, Since 1941 (University of Iowa Press, 2007). He teaches literature and creative writing at John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio. Were it not for Ellis Island, his last name would be Abourjaili, but he still responds to “Hey, Phil”.

Amy Bracken Sparks is one of the pioneers of the Lit Café poetry readings. Don’t believe me? Check out all the video on the 90’s poetry tab at the Literary Café website. I met her while I was writing for the nascent CoolCleveland.com e-newletter and Amy was pushing through with a new literary and arts magazine, Angle. The goals of CC and Angle were similar so we would bump into each other often. When I actually started to live in Tremont, I started to learn what an amazing force for the arts she is. Amy is an award-winning critic, writer and poet. She has won top honors in film criticism from the Association of Alternative Newspapers in 1995, and Best Critic in Ohio in 1998 and Best Columnist in Ohio in 2000 from the Society of Professional Journalists, as well as numerous other press awards. She is the author of two books of poetry, Serious Red (Cleveland State University Poetry Center) and Queen of Cups (Burning Press) both, which I own autographed copies, and the recipient of TWO Ohio Arts Council Individual Fellowships and a residency at Headlands Center for the Arts in California. She has been published in American Poetry Review, Barn Owl Review, Hobble Creek Review, DMQ Review, Nimrod, Southern Poetry Review, Denver Quarterly, Whiskey Island, ArtCrimes, kiosk, situation, mirage period(ical), Angle, Taproot, Wray, Cleveland Slam Anthology, and others she can't remember or lost track of. Poems forthcoming in Harpur Palate and Gargoyle, and is currently online at wicked alice. She used to slam with the big boys, but now lives on a great lake, held in abeyance. Amy recently completed her MFA with the NEOMFA program in Ohio. We welcome her back to the neighborhood that loves her so dearly.

It should be an uplifting evening of quality poetry, of comradery in Peace, big P. Bring your words, your ideals about the possibility of No War, No More, of peace, of the elimination of violence, of the possibility of Nirvana. We will still have fun, of course. In fact we couldn’t do what we do without the peace that exists every second Thursday, 9:30pm at 1031 Literary Road in the Peace-loving neighborhood of Tremont in Cleveland, the home of the Literary Café.

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3 comments

Comment from: andy [Visitor]
andyNice Steve, thanks.
09/07/08 @ 22:29
Comment from: nick [Visitor]
nickYeah, nice Steve. I was going to do a flyer then the man shut off my electricity because I didn't pay my bill. Damn man. Excuses, excuses. I think I may stop by the reading tonight if you guys will have me.

-nick
09/11/08 @ 15:37
Comment from: John Ettorre [Visitor] Email
John EttorreAmy is indeed a certified Cleveland treasure. Just hearing that name makes me smile. I only wish I had known of her reading beforehand. I'm sure she rocked the house.
09/21/08 @ 11:48