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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.)
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