Current Events: April and May 2017

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First of all, thank you for visiting! Normally, I post either poetry or short fiction, but every so often I like to share events going on in my area of Ohio. I try to update this blog once every two weeks.

I’m not sure how you made your way here, but I’ve recently attempted to consolidate my brand by updating my blog addresses and emails. This blog can be found via both https://catrussellwriter.wordpress.com/ and http://ganymeder.com/ . My other blog, which is more formal and serves as a resume, can be found at https://authorcatrussell.wordpress.com/ . My updated email, should you wish to contact me about my writing, is authorcatrussell@outlook.com .

Second, on to the fun stuff! There are several literary and creative holidays coming up, both internationally and locally, that I would love to share with you. Behold!

Saturday, April 29th

TABLETOP DAY: A wonderful geeky holiday for those who love tabletop gaming–from Dungeons & Dragons to card games like FLUXX! This may not seem very literary at first, but just think of all the storytelling and creativity involved in role-playing games. Plus, it’s just FUN. If you like, you can watch some TableTop via YouTube to help get into the mood; think Celebrity Poker meets Nerds.

Sunday, April 30th

CUYAHOGA LIBRARY POETRY OPEN MIC: The South Euclid-Lyndhurst branch of the Cuyahoga Library is finishing off National Poetry Month by providing a platform for anyone who writes poetry to share with an audience.

Come between 1:30 and 3:30, especially if you have written to one of the prompts they’ve provided during the month of April!

Thursday, May 4th

STAR WARS DAY: Watch out for deals and events at your local bookstores and comic book shops, because *ahem*

May the Fourth be with you…Always.

Saturday, May 6th

FREE COMIC BOOK DAY: This day is exactly what the name implies; it’s a day when comic book shops give away specially-printed FCBD editions of comics for free. You can visit the FCBD site to see what comics will become available, though each comic shop (that chooses to participate) decides which comics they will be giving away. Participating shops may also have special events such as cosplay costume contests, comic artist signings, and other giveaways. To find out which stores are participating in your area, simply visit the site and do a location search.

Wednesday, May 10th

HOOKS AND BOOKS: The Barberton Library hosts its monthly meetup up for crafters and bibliophiles at the local Kave Coffee Bar (584 W. Tuscarawas Ave.). Knitters, crocheters, and other needlepoint crafters are welcome to bring their latest project to work on and share whatever book they are reading. They also have a Pinterest group to share projects and book recommendations!

Thursday, May 25th

TOWEL DAY: This fan-created holiday honors and promotes the work of the late great Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series, the Dirk Gently books, and Last Chance to See. There are tons of events around the globe, but the main way to bring attention to this holiday is by conspicuously wearing or carrying a towel with you wherever you go. For as The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy points out:

A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-bogglingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you — daft as a brush, but very very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.

More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitch hiker) discovers that a hitchhiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitch hiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitch hiker might accidentally have “lost.” What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is, is clearly a man to be reckoned with.

Hence a phrase that has passed into hitchhiking slang, as in “Hey, you sass that hoopy Ford Prefect? There’s a frood who really knows where his towel is.” (Sass: know, be aware of, meet, have sex with; hoopy: really together guy; frood: really amazingly together guy.

And, of course, if you haven’t already read his books, the best way to honor an author is to read his work. If you can not afford to buy a book, simply visit your friendly neighborhood library either in person or via its online digital library. Trust me. His books are amazing.

I hope you are able to participate in at least some of these activities, and I wish you all the best! Have a lovely week!

 

POEM: Skeletal Remains

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“Skeletal Remains”

 

In visions of the dark night

I have dreamed of joy departed—

But a waking dream of life and light

Hath left me broken-hearted.

 

The sighing wind

gives breath to the darkness,

the stars lighting the ebony sky

like pinpricks of God’s grace

that pierce the blackened heavens

with dazzling white.

Who would dare disturb this quiet, wake those

that haunt deserted paths? Best

seek safety in the North Star, our pilot light

In visions of the dark night.

 

My eyelids close,

lids lowered against

the terrors that make me tremble and seek

solace beneath warm cotton covers.

The witching hour strikes–

a time too late for the faint-hearted

that quake and shake and turn away

from what they–what we–cannot bear to face:

the lonely dead, quiet and disregarded.

I have dreamed of joy departed—

 

What dreams may come

to those that can not face their fears?

Sheltering beneath shut lids

holds no solace for those

whose frightful visions follow them

beyond the veil of sleep: the blight

of a million cares and worries,

the looming spectre of loneliness

a demon–no longer safely tucked out of sight

But a waking dream of life and light.

 

The daytime hours

contain the demons that

haunt my nightly dreams.

I look within myself each dusk

–trapped between the sun’s escape

and the rising mercurial moon,– unguarded

yet I find imprisoned courage.

When shall I be released?

This time–too long before I meet my dear departed–

Hath left me broken-hearted.

 

*glosa of “A Dream”  by Edgar Allan Poe, written for the Day 9 prompt of #ReadWritePoetry courtesy of Cuyahoga Library, in honor of National Poetry Month

 

**image courtesy of BigFoto.com

 

Current Events: April is National Poetry Month!

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April was set aside as National Poetry Month by the Academy of American Poets to highlight poets, as well as encourage the reading and writing of poetry. Their extensive website has resources for anyone looking to celebrate poetry during the thirty days of April.

However, Ohio is triply blessed to be home to the Literary Cleveland writers’ group as well as two of the greatest library systems in the United States: Cleveland Library and Cuyahoga County Library. If you have not already signed up for Cuyahoga Library’s 30 Days of Poetry, please do so now; you will receive daily emails with a poem to read, a poetry prompt, and a poetry book recommendation.* You won’t regret it.

And if you don’t have plans yet for Saturday the eighth, Literary Cleveland is having another free poetry workshop. This one will be hosted by Damien Ware, a local activist with multiple degrees–as well as many public performances, open mics, and creative writing workshops under his belt. If you’d like to attend, the workshop takes place at the Cleveland Main Library from 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Don’t forget to bring several copies of a poem you would like to work on.

Lastly, in the spirit of National Poetry Month, I would like to share a poem I wrote last April to one of the Cuyahoga Library’s daily prompts. I hope you enjoy it.

 

FOUR

This month’s showers

usher in Fools and flowers–

hightop Converse sneakers

crushing petals beneath scampering feet,

whoopee cushions and pranks

abound, thanks

to day one

anyone

can give themselves permission

to clown around.

 

And for those who, like me, are Shakespeare-obsessed,

though Touchstone or Bottom the Weaver might jest,

this twenty-third day celebrates best

the birth of the Bard who was foolishly blessed.

 

And another one is designated

to gaming, for those who appreciate it, not across a TV screen–

but with dice and boards, cards and caffeine,

strategy,  role-playing too.

No matter what your revenue,

Tabletop Day is celebrated–

among family and friends, it’s highly rated.

 

Set aside seven days

to honor libraries

a celebration

of book fairs, classes and classic

literature,  graphic

novels to check out

throughout

each community center;

just enter

and explore.

Can’t get there?  It’s fine. Online

there’s still more.

 

Yet thirty days of dedication

are given to poetry–versification,

meter and internal rhyme,

writing programs, slams,

and readings from every sunrise til sunset

ordinary people find the time

to access their inner poet.

 

A month of inspiration,

linguistic medication

for a world of weary souls.

If laughter,

perhaps inspired by those first Fools,

is the best cure for sickness,

witness

what a month of words and wisdom,

merriment and mirth,

can do to soothe

a world that aches for play

and poetry.

 

#

Thank you for your time. Go forth to read and write to your heart’s content, and remember that polite feedback is always welcome and appreciated!

 

*Since this is an email digest, I don’t believe you need to be an Ohioan to sign up for this free service. However, posts will naturally feature Ohio poets.

**image provided by kind permission of BigFoto.com

 

CURRENT EVENTS: Upcoming Literary Events for Northeast Ohio!

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Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! I wish you all a fun and educational weekend full of literary loveliness and green pancakes.

March is a great month for writers here in Ohio, land of cultural consciousness and indeterminate weather. On Saturday the eighteenth, Literary Cleveland is offering a free workshop, Transition and Transformation: Writing for Self-Discovery, that will focus on using writing to work through emotional life transitions such as divorce, an empty nest, or the beginning or end of a career. The workshop will take place from 12:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. at the South Euclid-Lyndhurst branch of Cuyahoga Library, 1876 South Green Road, South Euclid, OH 44121. Registration is requested.

Later, you may also attend another Literary Cleveland free event, Crossing Borders: An Immigrant Narrative, featuring local authors reading their own work. This is actually a 90-minute performance directed by Marc Moritz, including poems, essays, and stories written by immigrants; during the show, pieces will be performed by professional actors. It should be a powerful and educational (as well as entertaining) experience.

Crossing Borders takes place on both Saturday the eighteenth and Sunday the nineteenth, at Cleveland State University, in the Student Center Ballroom (third floor),2121 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio. Both performances take place from 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. Registration is requested.

Also, don’t forget to register for Cuyahoga Library’s Thirty Days of Poetry. The library will send you daily poetry prompts and poems throughout the month of April–so if you register now, you can get their daily email each morning to start your days off right!

POEM: Akron Art Museum (on a snowy day)

 

“Akron Art Museum (on a snowy day)”

.

Braving winter weather,

I venture inside, am greeted by,

am heated by

the red warmth of an amazing maze

–the reason that day’s,

adventuring took place.

Patrons’ laughter wiggles,

giggles, and jiggles

Awakens my sleeping senses

dulled by the ice-cold latticework

of Jack Frost’s handiwork.

.

Permanent residents

enclosed in glass

call to me with cool colorfields,

tapestries of reclaimed materials,

and the youthful bloom of a long dead girl

–she is a poem in paint,

an oil-based sonnet

written to the memory of a sister

much missed.

.

Art not only beautiful,

but unique, original

and absurd. GROSS ANATOMIES

expose themselves to my sometimes

unwilling eyes: sad sculptures

of pieced together little girls,

grotesques of acts better hid from the world,

and the ridiculous image

of a child pooping cupcakes–

Who knew defecation could be that sweet

and funny? I laugh for five full minutes

before wiping tears from my eyes.

.

Turning the page I find

the common translated–

a cement truck’s dull exterior

becomes solidly superior

intricately cut

stainless steel,

the metal pieces sliced

into solid stitches

of lovely, silver-toned lace.

Tea party participants mutate

into alluringly ludicrous,

fantastic freaks

with abnormal proportions,

others are created with the beastly heads

of cats and sharks

or machine parts. My own head

swims with sensory overload.

.

Mind and heart filled to

overflowing, I fill

my other emptiness in the cafe.

Eating my fill, I watch

the falling snow

beyond the transparent walls;

each flake freezes to the glass

and frames the dusting sugar

like a thousand fairies

dying in the cold.

.

.

.

**This poem is a departure from my normal style, since I usually don’t concentrate on the rhymes quite so much. I wanted something that would sound fun read aloud, stressing the ends of each line. Any feedback would be appreciated, thanks!

POEM: Beware the Hipster

 

“Beware the Hipster”  

(inspired by Jabberwocky)

.

‘Tis sunny on the day I see

the Hipster–bowler hat on head,

round Lennon glasses jauntily

perched on his nose. I nearly fled.

.

“Beware the Hipster!” I’d been warned,

“-the lips that sneer, the fierce eyes that

view everything, yet also scorn

whatever thing they’re looking at.”

.

He takes his cellphone well in hand,

long time the wifi here he’s sought,

to marvel at this small town’s quaint-

ness, if and when it can be bought.

.

The coffee shop is where he “hangs”

–its rooms his natural habitat;

He lounges in his Vera Wangs,

entitlement of alleycat.

.

He orders his speciality cup

and sits within a booth to tweet

over soy latte–bottoms up!

He contemplates his balance sheet.

.

The poetry slam will soon begin,

knowing this he preps his words,

adjusts his vest, neat as a pin,

and readies himself for the herds

.

of onlookers that will attend

to listen to his performance

art, anti-prose, and apprehend.

He preys upon his audience;

.

he paints a picture odious,

each finely chose profanity

he picks to shock his audience

as payment for his vanity.

.

One, two! One, two! His sharpened tongue

leaves all aghast! Wholesome, family

places won’t stand that kind of dung.

He won’t be back.

.

“Oh, have they cast the Hipster out?

Come have some Earl Grey tea on me!

Or coffee! There will be no drought

of drinks on the house, happily!”

.

‘Tis sunny on the day I see

the Hipster–bowler hat on head,

round Lennon glasses jauntily

perched on his nose. I nearly fled.

 

 

Friday Flash (Revisited): Space-time to Travel

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When Hector invented his time machine, he did not concern himself with aesthetics. He had never valued beauty over functionality, and he assumed the judges of the 54th-century’s multiversal scientific competition would share his opinion.

His chest swelled as he viewed his entry in the ‘Time-Machine of the Century’ contest, humanity’s valiant effort to embrace the insanity they had brought upon themselves. Such an event was obviously a complicated affair, but Hector knew the intricacies of traveling the multiverse. Space-travel was by definition time travel, and he crossed light-years like other fellows crossed a room.

Of course, time-travel had been around for centuries in Earth standard years, with all the predictable complications such journeying involved. After all, there’s only so many times men and women can either off their own ancestors or become their own parents before humanity’s family tree is hopelessly skewered beyond recognition. And once humanity spread beyond its own paltry region of space, cross-breeding with the debatably-intelligent life found elsewhere in the multiverse only added to their genetic confusion.

Confounded, humanity had decided their hopelessly tangled timelines (multiverse, after all) should be monitored and adjusted accordingly. Agencies had been set up, destroyed, the parents of the agencies’ founders murdered, born in alternative timelines to be transferred and mated (then murdered) again, before humanity as a whole threw up their collective hands and thought, To hell with it all, let’s just go with the flow.

And thus, Hector had found himself abducted from the distant past due to one of genetically-mangled humanity’s misguided efforts to reintroduce old-blood back into its gene-pool. The upside for Hector was that they made their scientific knowledge available to all their abductees. After being fit with a transmitter for selective telepathy, he could communicate effectively and integrated himself into future (his future) society. He was excited about his entry into this year’s contest.

You’ve been disqualified.

What? What are you talking about! I followed the rules to the letter! Color flushed Hector’s cheeks as he gazed at the little grey-green judge with the clipboard.

The judge, Bob, gazed levelly at him with bulbous eyes. He really had no choice, since his eyelids were clear. Bob was unaware of his familial connection to Hector, though he would not have been surprised; almost everyone was related to everyone else.

Well? repeated Hector. He bent down to peer into Bob’s oval face.

Bob reached out with elongated, bony fingers to hold the tentacle of his wife of three light-years, Judy Trudy. He paled at the sight of the glowering man in denim and found his plaid shirt terrifying. Judy nudged Bob encouragingly, and the little judge responded.

After the unsettling squelching and sucking sounds were over, Bob cleared his throat and thought, It does not meet the specifications, sir, for human-compatibility.

What the heck you talking ‘bout? Hector sat in the driver’s seat of the modified Chevy and activated the force-seals. I know there’s been certain errr…modifications to the species since my days, but humans still have certain basics in common, right?

That is true, thought Bob. He squeezed Judy’s tentacle, which oozed reassuringly in his bony hand.

Well, most have two hands, right? reasoned Hector, demonstrating how his hands used the steering-wheel. He made a point of not meeting Judy’s gaze.

Yes, and many have three or six, answered Bob.

Two feet is pretty common, right? Hector stepped on various pedals.

Two seems to be the preferred number of ambulatory appendages, agreed Bob.

I installed seat belts, per regulations. They would be useable by the bulk of humanity – regardless of, er, complications to their family, uh…

The seatbelts are satisfactory, agreed Bob, noting that the ancient human had not “buckled in” for safety. He climbed into the vehicle and sat in the passenger seat.

Hector’s brow furrowed as he asked the question he’d been dreading. It’s not a question of style, is it? He had not been tuned-in to the fashions of his own time and place, nevermind 54th century Camelot 470.

Bob negated this notion.

Well then, what’s the problem? He took a chance and gave Judy Trudy a worried look. She squelched at him.

This is the problem, thought Bob and sighed. Sliding into the driver’s seat, Bob bumped Hector unceremoniously out the open door and onto the floor. Hector watched Bob wiggle his tiny grey toes at least a foot above the starter pedal. In most space-timelines, thought the judge at the mystified man, the majority of humanity is my height.

*This was originally written for the six minute story site, but I cheated and edited the piece after six minutes. Also, due to life happenings (such as getting the flu for two weeks among other things), I have not created a fresh flash for this week. I felt guilty for not updating the blog, so I hope you enjoyed my humble repost from my old (and now defunct) writing blog. Have a lovely week!

*image courtesy of BigFoto.com