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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.


1 comment

Comment from: Daniella [Visitor]

I am planning to come but I have never done poetry so please be nice and kind.
06/11/08 @ 22:49