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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.
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