POEM: “Today the President”

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I normally try to stay away from overly political topics, but this morning’s news was too much to not respond. Especially since I now have a draft age son, and it looks like the President could conceivably start a war with Mexico.

 

Today the President” 

Today the President
almost started a war
via Twitter.

 

Today the President
accused foreign soldiers
of protecting drug runners.

 

Today the President
said he’d send armed soldiers
to the border.

 

Today the President
turned a misunderstanding
into a taunt.

 

Today the President
put my son’s life in danger
not his own.

 

Today the President
is still the President
and still on Twitter.

 

#

If you are interested in the story, you may follow Trump on Twitter and also google multiple sources (to try to counteract bias) about the news story.

 

 

*image courtesy of BigFoto.com

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POEM: “Waking Up to Spring” *AND* Current Events

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Happy National Poetry Month! I hope you have been filling each and every day with at least one poem. If you haven’t, I’ve got the cure for that: 30 Days of Poetry from Cuyahoga County Library.

Since this is a holiday weekend, my next reading is scheduled for this Monday! I have an Author Talk scheduled at the Barberton Library along with the talented museum Ed Amann. I’ll be reading from my new book, Soul Picked Clean, which I will also be selling after the reading; Ed Amann may also sell some of his music on CDs. So, please come by for some poetry and music!

If you are unable to make the Ohio events I’ve listed, there’s tons of poetry events going on all across the country, so you should be able to find another pretty easily. In the meantime, in the spirit of the season, I’ll share this short poem:

Waking Up to Spring

Birdsong drifts in
like the cool spring breeze
touching my face, my body, my skin
exposed above my sheets.

Speeding trucks rumble
over gravel roads
a few blocks further away,
while my dogs snooze unknowing
of the greater world
beyond these walls

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Upcoming and Current Events:

Monday, April 22nd (6:30pm – 7:30pm)

Cat Russell Author Talk with music by Ed Amann at the Barberton Public Library, 602 West Park Avenue, Barberton, Ohio 44203. Ed Amann and I will alternate between his music and my poems.

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Tuesday, April 23rd (6:30pm – 7:30pm)

What better way to celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday than to attend a poetry reading?! Massillon Public Library will announce the winners of its April Poetry contest at the Poetry Night and Open Mic! I’m not specifically scheduled, but I do plan to attend. I love libraries!

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Wednesday, April 24th (6pm – 10:30pm)

Spoken Word Showcase (paid event) hosted by The Outpost concert club and Writing Knights. Ed Mabrey will be the feature performer, supported by Kisha Nicole Foster, Black Reign, Keith Allison, Finn Thrace, SuperTeam, and Luna Annunaki.

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Thursday, April 25th (6pm – 9pm)

The Write Stuff Authors’ Group meets monthly at the North Canton Library to workshop WIPs before adjourning to TD’s Grill at about 7:30pm for general literary merry-making.

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Saturday, April 27th (9am – 4:30pm)

Western Reserve Writers’ Conference Any writers in the area should definitely attend this FREE writing conference at Cuyahoga Library’s South Euclid-Lyndhurst Branch. I will not be reading, but I will attend, and I’d love to see you there!

.

Thank you for visiting my blog! I wish for you a month filled with poetry, and I hope to see you at one of these events soon!

*image courtesy of BigFoto.com

Poetry Month Continues *AND* POEM: “What I Hear”

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Happy National Poetry Month! I hope you have been filling each and every day with at least one poem. If you haven’t, I’ve got the cure for that: 30 Days of Poetry from Cuyahoga County Library. Also, if you happen to be in the Canton, Ohio area tonight, I’m participating in Writing Knight’s sWord Fight: my first live poetry competition!

As part of the prep, both myself and my worthy opponent, Greg Milo, produced videos to promote the event. Well, in all fairness, he produced a video while I asked my son to create mine. I wrote a rough script with a little joke thrown in, told him it was supposed to be funny and over the top, and I didn’t want to actually appear on film. My son ran with it. I think he did a great job! Anyway, I hope you enjoy it.

There’s tons of poetry events going on all across the country, so if you can’t make this one, you should be able to find another pretty easily. In the meantime, please enjoy this light-hearted poem, based on the April 1st writing prompt via Cuyahoga Library’s Read Write Poetry:

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What I Hear

My blood pumping

as the howls and barks

batter my ears like hands on drumskin,

bongo-ing my brain into oblivion,

 

the trucks vrooming by on the highway

four blocks away as snow slowly melts

into the slush beneath each icy step

as we crunch our way through grass

overdue for the green of Spring,

 

the suck of  the insulation parting

as I open the fridge for each treat

dutifully dealt out for the watering

of a lawn that looks too brown for spring,

too green for winter,

 

the slurping sounds of peanut butter

licked with licentiousness,

as though their earned reward

were forbidden fruit

consumed all too quickly

before it rots

 

Upcoming and Current Events:

Friday, April 12th (7pm – 9pm)

sWord Fight Tournament in Canton, Ohio. I will be a “combatant” in my first live poetry competition: Cat Russell versus Greg Milo! Come by, and wish me luck! This competition will be at a different venue than usual.

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Saturday, April 13th (11am – 2pm)

Local Author Fair at Massillon Public Library, 208 Lincoln Way E, Massillon, Ohio 44646. I am scheduled to read briefly, and I will also have books to sell at my table. I will be donating 10% of any sales I make this day to Project Gutenberg!

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Wednesday, April 17th (7pm – 9pm)

Latitudes Poetry Night and Open Mic at Compass Coffee in Akron.

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Thursday, April 18th (6pm – 9pm)

Kave Coffee Bar in Barberton hosts an open mic every Thursday. I’m not scheduled as a guest, but I do plan to attend.

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Friday, April 19th (630pm – 730pm)

I will be reading from my newly published book of poetry, Soul Picked Clean, as my talented artist-friend, Jim Meador, paints his version of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers. The eventbrite link is now live; all tickets must be reserved ahead of time. This is a paid event, but each ticket includes a free copy of Soul Picked Clean!

(*single’s and couple’s tickets available.)

.

Monday, April 22nd (6:30pm – 7:30pm)

Cat Russell Author Talk with music by Ed Amann at the Barberton Public Library, 602 West Park Avenue, Barberton, Ohio 44203. Ed Amann and I will alternate between his music and my poems.

.

Tuesday, April 23rd (6:30pm – 7:30pm)

What better way to celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday than to attend a poetry reading?! Massillon Public Library will announce the winners of its April Poetry contest at the Poetry Night and Open Mic! I’m not specifically scheduled, but I do plan to attend. I love libraries!

.

Wednesday, April 24th (6pm – 10:30pm)

Spoken Word Showcase (paid event) hosted by The Outpost concert club and Writing Knights. Ed Mabrey will be the feature performer, supported by Kisha Nicole Foster, Black Reign, Keith Allison, Finn Thrace, SuperTeam, and Luna Annunaki.

.

Thursday, April 25th (6pm – 9pm)

The Write Stuff Authors’ Group meets monthly at the North Canton Library to workshop WIPs before adjourning to TD’s Grill at about 7:30pm for general literary merry-making.

.

Saturday, April 27th (9am – 4:30pm)

Western Reserve Writers’ Conference Any writers in the area should definitely attend this FREE writing conference at Cuyahoga Library’s South Euclid-Lyndhurst Branch. I will not be reading, but I will attend, and I’d love to see you there!

.

Thank you for visiting my blog! I wish for you a month filled with poetry, and I hope to see you at one of these events soon!

 

*video created by Christopher Russell aka Rastabon.

First Friday *AND* POEM: “Who Are You?”

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Since I’m spending most of my time this month attending or participating in poetry events and promoting my new book, it seems only fair I blog more frequently to share them with you. So for the next month (or two) I have switched to posting every Friday instead of every other Friday. You’re thrilled, right?

Tonight is Canton’s First Friday celebration for April! It will be my first time attending a First Friday event, and I am honored to be participating in the “Locally Literate” theme by reading poetry alongside the wonderful Diane Kendig and John Burroughs! It’s going to be a fantastic night, and for every beer sold, Muskellunge Brewery will donate $1 to the Friends of the Library!

Also, in the spirit of sharing poetry during National Poetry Month, I’m posting my short (but sweet) poem, “Who Are You?”

 

Who Are You?

Answering by name alone,

the reflex a sound as familiar

as breathing, must needs be symbol

enough…words alone cannot define you.

 

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Current and Upcoming Events:

Friday, April 5th (7pm – 8pm)

Canton’s First Friday celebration for April follows the overarching theme of “Locally Literate” and is sponsored by Muskellunge Brewery and the Friends of the Library! There will be scheduled poetry readings, with poems following the themes of beer, bars, April, Friday,libraries, and Muskies (the fish). I am honored to be one of the scheduled readers.

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Thursday, April 11th (4pm – 7pm)

I will be appearing alongside some other authors at Dorrie’s Booktique.

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Friday, April 12th (7pm – 9pm)

sWord Fight Tournament in Canton, Ohio. I will be a “combatant” in my first live poetry competition: Cat Russell versus Greg Milo! Come by, and wish me luck! This competition will be at a different venue than usual.

.
Saturday, April 13th (11am – 2pm)

Local Author Fair at Massillon Public Library, 208 Lincoln Way E, Massillon, Ohio 44646. I am scheduled to read briefly, and I will also have books to sell at my table. I will be donating 10% of any sales I make this day to Project Gutenberg!

.

Wednesday, April 17th (7pm – 9pm)

Latitudes Poetry Night and Open Mic at Compass Coffee in Akron.

.

Thursday, April 18th (6pm – 9pm)

Kave Coffee Bar in Barberton hosts an open mic every Thursday. I’m not scheduled as a guest, but I do plan to attend.

.
Friday, April 19th (630pm – 730pm)

I will be reading from my newly published book of poetry, Soul Picked Clean, as my talented artist-friend, Jim Meador, paints his version of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers. The eventbrite link is now live; all tickets must be reserved ahead of time. This is a paid event, but each ticket includes a free copy of Soul Picked Clean!
(*single’s and couple’s tickets available.)

.
Monday, April 22nd (6:30pm – 7:30pm)

Cat Russell Author Talk with music by Ed Amann at the Barberton Public Library, 602 West Park Avenue, Barberton, Ohio 44203. Ed Amann and I will alternate between his music and my poems.

.
Tuesday, April 23rd (6:30pm – 7:30pm)

What better way to celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday than to attend a poetry reading? Massillon Public Library will announce the winners of its April Poetry contest at the Poetry Night and Open Mic! I’m not specifically scheduled, but I do plan to attend. I love libraries!

.

Wednesday, April 24th (6pm – 10:30pm)

Spoken Word Showcase (paid event) hosted by The Outpost concert club and Writing Knights. Ed Mabrey will be the feature performer, supported by Kisha Nicole Foster, Black Reign, Keith Allison, Finn Thrace, SuperTeam, and Luna Annunaki.

.

Thursday, April 25th (6pm – 9pm)

The Write Stuff Authors’ Group meets monthly at the North Canton Library to workshop WIPs before adjourning to TD’s Grill at about 7:30pm for general literary merry-making.

.
Saturday, April 27th (9am – 4:30pm)

Western Reserve Writers’ Conference Any writers in the area should definitely attend this FREE writing conference at Cuyahoga Library’s South Euclid-Lyndhurst Branch. I will not be reading, but I will attend, and I’d love to see you there!

.

Thank you for visiting my blog! I wish for you a month filled with poetry, and I hope to see you at one of these events soon!

Book Launch *AND* POEM “Butterfly Psyche”

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One more day until my poetry collection officially launches! The poetry reading will include two talented Pittsburgh poets, Jen Ashburn and Jason Irwin, as well as my debut reading for my first published book, Soul Picked Clean. Mac’s Backs on Coventry will host the event, where I will also do a prize drawing and provide lemonade and cookies to attendees. If you are in the Cleveland area tomorrow night, March 30th, I would love to see you there!

 
Butterfly Psyche

endeavoring to capture
a passing thought

before it escapes
like a butterfly

   from a net full of holes

 

Current and Upcoming Events:

Saturday, March 30th (7pm)

Book Launch party at Mac’s Backs, 1820 Coventry Rd, Cleveland Heights, Ohio 44118. I’m absolutely thrilled to be reading along with Pittsburgh-area poets Jason Irwin and Jen Ashburn. If you are in the Cleveland area this night, please come for some poetry!

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Friday, April 5th

Canton’s First Friday celebration for April will follow the overarching theme of “Locally Literate” and is sponsored by Muskelunge Brewery and the Friends of the Library! There will be scheduled poetry readings, with poems following the themes of beer, bars, April, Friday,libraries, and Muskies (the fish). I am honored to be one of the scheduled readers. More details forthcoming.

.
Friday, April 12th

sWord Fight Tournament in Canton, Ohio. I will be a “combatant” in my first live poetry competition: Cat Russell versus Greg Milo! Come by, and wish me luck! More details forthcoming.

.

Saturday, April 13th (11am – 2pm)

Local Author Fair at Massillon Public Library, 208 Lincoln Way E, Massillon, Ohio 44646. I am scheduled to read briefly, and I will also have books to sell at my table. I will be donating 10% of any sales I make this day to Project Gutenberg!

.

Friday, April 19th (630pm – 730pm)

I will be reading from my newly published book of poetry, Soul Picked Clean, as my talented artist-friend, Jim Meador, paints his version of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers. This event will be a paid event, $12 per ticket, but that includes a copy of the book. The eventbrite link will go live on April 1st, if you’d like to reserve your ticket.

.

Monday, April 22nd (6:30pm – 7:30pm)

Cat Russell Author Talk with music by Ed Amann at the Barberton Public Library, 602 West Park Avenue, Barberton, Ohio 44203.

.

Saturday, April 27th (9am – 4:30pm)

Western Reserve Writers’ Conference Any writers in the area should definitely attend this FREE writing conference at Cuyahoga Library’s South Euclid-Lyndhurst Branch. I will not be reading, but I will attend, and I’d love to see you there!

.

Thank you for visiting, and I hope to see you in the coming weeks at one of these events!
#

*image courtesy of Mac’s Backs on Coventry
**In my last post, Finding Poetry, I mistakenly listed the name of the competition as Azlitude. This one is simply called a sWord Fight.

Finding Poetry

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With World Poetry Day behind us and National Poetry Month just around the corner, everywhere I look I see poems. They aren’t necessarily marketed as such, but they are poetry just the same.

I’m not sure if I started noticing found poetry before or after I began reading Dave Lucas’s Poetry for People who don’t like Poetry articles. But he makes a good point; everyone loves poetry, whether they realize it or not. Song lyrics are poetry. Shakespeare is poetry. Cliches and quotes and silly rhymes and limericks are poetry–even though poetry itself is so hard to define.

You could say poetry is the opposite of prose, but that doesn’t really tell you much. You could argue it’s words broken up into lines and stanzas, but what about prose poetry? Poetry often follows a strict format of rhythm and rhyme, but what about freeverse? My favorite description is that it’s simply an attempt to capture something, whether it’s a story, a feeling, moral, idea, or even just the musicality of language. Like art, you know it when you see (or hear) it.

Found poetry is loosely defined as poetry discovered out in unexpected places, found in quotes and magazine articles, newspaper headlines, and ads for denture cream. You might edit a little out, but the purest might be read as they are with very little rearrangement. I like to break up the words into lines and stanzas, because it seems like when people see them presented this way, suddenly they recognize the poetry that was already there.

For example, this passage is from Moby Dick*:

What of it, if some old hunks of a sea-captain orders me to get a broom and sweep down the decks? What does that indignity amount to, weighed, I mean, in the scales of the New Testament? Do you think the archangel Gabriel thinks anything the less of me, because I promptly and respectfully obey that old hunks in that particular instance? Who ain’t a slave? Tell me that. Well, then, however the old sea-captains may order me about–however they may thump and punch me about, I have the satisfaction of knowing that it is all right; that everybody else is one way or other served in much the same way–either in a physical or metaphysical point of view, that is; and so the universal thump is passed round, and all hands should rub each other’s shoulder-blades, and be content.

When I read that paragraph, it strikes me as prose poetry. But here it is again, broken up and trimmed slightly:

What of it,

if some old hunks of a sea-captain orders me to get a broom and sweep down the decks?

What does that indignity amount to?

Do you think the archangel Gabriel thinks less of me,

because I promptly and respectfully obey?

Who ain’t a slave?

Tell me that.

 

however the old sea-captains may thump and punch me about,

I have the satisfaction of knowing

it is all right;

 

everybody else is

one way or other

served the same;

the universal thump is passed round,

all hands should rub each other’s shoulder-blades,

 

and be content.

 

Blackout poetry is one variation on this theme. By taking a magazine article or some other existing text, and simply blacking out some of the words, others are brought into focus. In this way, a poem is found in what’s left behind; it emerges, like a statue from a block of marble. Some people even blackout text to create images along with the poems.

Of course, there are just as many ways to create found poetry as there are ways to create art. Poetry can be spotted like a cheetah in the wild or picked up and collected like diamonds sparkling in the sun on a sandy beach. To find poetry, all you need to do is keep your eyes open and look.

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Current and Upcoming Events:

Thursday, March 28th (6pm)

The Write Stuff  This writers’ group meets at @North Canton Public Library once a month. If you’d like to check them out, bring 6-10 copies of something you’re working on. Writers break into groups based on genre and give feedback. I’ve always found it very helpful, and afterwards everyone usually goes to a local restaurant to talk–shop or otherwise.:)

Saturday, March 30th (7pm)

Book Launch party at Mac’s Backs, 1820 Coventry Rd, Cleveland Heights, Ohio 44118. Cat Russell and Pittsburgh-area poets Jason Irwin and Jen Ashburn will read.

Friday, April 12th

sWord Fight Tournament in Canton, Ohio. I will be a “combatant” in my first live poetry competition. Come by, and wish me luck! More details forthcoming.

Saturday, April 13th (11am – 2pm)

Local Author Fair at Massillon Public Library, 208 Lincoln Way E, Massillon, Ohio 44646. I am scheduled to read briefly, and I will also have books to sell at my table!

Friday, April 19th (630pm – 730pm)

I will be reading from my newly published book of poetry, Soul Picked Clean, as my talented artist-friend, Jim Meador, paints his version of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers. This event will be a paid event, $12, but the ticket includes a copy of the book. The eventbrite link will go live on April 1st, if you’d like to reserve your ticket.

Monday, April 22nd (6:30pm)

Cat Russell author talk with music by Ed Amann at the Barberton Public Library, 602 West Park Avenue, Barberton, Ohio 44203.

Saturday, April 27th (9am – 4:30pm)

Western Reserve Writers’ Conference Any writers in the area should definitely attend this free writing conference at Cuyahoga Library’s South Euclid-Lyndhurst Branch. I will not be reading, but I will attend, and I’d love to see you there!

.

Thank you for visiting, and I hope to see you in the coming weeks at one of these events!

 

*image courtesy of BigFoto.com

**I picked a passage from Moby Dick, because it’s one of my favorite books that’s also in the public domain; I didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes. However, a quick perusal of the twitter hashtag #FoundPoetry will reveal many examples of poetry discovered in otherwise mundane circumstances.

POEM: The Ides of March

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The Ides of March

I knew his time was short:
his suffering would end

beginning another,
shoved into the dark
dusty corners of my mind.

Beware the Ides of March,
for when a life ends
others are changed.
Knowing it’s coming

does not lessen the pain.

*Today’s post is dedicated to my father, who died three years ago today.