Current Events: April is National Poetry Month!

closeup-pencils-039y

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

 

Advertisements

CURRENT EVENTS: Upcoming Literary Events for Northeast Ohio!

2015ganyimage2015

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

wp-1465010881370.jpg

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

Friday Flash: Blind Date Night Out

lightning-2a7z.jpg

The strikingly beautiful brunette grinned at her reflection in the magic mirror.  The low cut black dress was flattering without being too revealing; she adjusted her sheer shawl over bare white shoulders and quickly headed out the door.

She saw her target waiting in the downstairs bar, a glass of fine whisky in his hand as he looked at the crowd swaying to the slow steady rhythm of a blues ballad. He eyed the many women in the undulating mass, a gradual smile spread his lips slightly, a predator selecting his prey. Taking a sip from his drink, he stood up and turned into the brunette beauty, spilling whisky down his crisp new suit and nearly falling in the process.

“Hey, handsome,” she said, the predatory smile on her own face a perfect reflection of his own. “Oh, I’m sorry. Let me get that for you.” She ran one long, slender finger up his front; her red nail made a zipping sound as it scratched against the suddenly dry fabric. “That better?”

“Now, that you’re here, hon’,” he said, recovering quickly, “everything’s better.”

“Really? You sure? You wouldn’t rather go after that sweet young thing over there?” She gestured disdainfully at the woman he had been watching the moment before.

“No, of course not,” he said. “I thought she might be a good match for Hermes, because, you know–”

She shushed him with one red painted nail to his lips. “Hon’, no talk about the kids on ‘date night,’ remember?”

“Oh,” he said, then breathed, “you truly are a goddess.” He ogled her sleek form all the way up to her large brown eyes and full red lips. “See what you do to me? I lose my head when I’m around you.”

His wife’s smile was secretive and seductive. “So, handsome,” she purred, “let me get you another drink.” A glass of champagne suddenly appeared from nowhere. She offered him the glass with one hand, her own pina colada in the other, and they entwined arms before sipping from their drinks. “Now, where were we?”

 

*Image courtesy of BigFoto.com
*I’ll admit, Hera has been on my mind a lot, ever since completing my 2016 NaNoWriMo, so I thought it’d be fun for them to have a date night where Zeus has to pick up Hera at a bar. I think she was tempted to impersonate a mortal to catch him in a dalliance, but she resisted on the advice of their marriage counselor.

Books Read in 2016

books

Greetings!

In the interest of reflection, I am posting a list of the books I read in the past year. Included in my list are ebooks, audiobooks, paperbacks, and graphic novels. I do not discriminate due to the amount of pages or words in any given work, whether fiction or nonfiction.

If you read my list from last year, you will note that I read fewer books than the year before–eighty-nine versus fifty-eight, which I attribute to consuming more poetry and less graphic novels. I also read a few paperbacks, which tend to take more time than ebooks, primarily because I usually forget to take them with me. Mainly though, I take more time when I read poetry, because I don’t usually feel I’ve gotten the full meaning and impact of a poem with just one reading.

Also, I’ve created this handy little color code, to make things easier:

Ebooks (novels, non fiction, & graphic novels): Red

Audiobooks: Blue

Physical books: Black

Because the list is long, I’m not going to comment on each book. You’re welcome.

  1. The Autobiography of James T. Kirk

  by David A. Goodman (ebook via Overdrive)

  1. Mort(e) by Robert Repino (audiobook via Overdrive)

–a truly unique scifi story about a revolution where all the animals become sentient and (many) humanoid to overthrow the human race. In the midst of all this chaos, one sentient cat is searching for his best friend, the neighbor’s dog.

  1. Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk  (ebook via Overdrive)
  1. Make Room! Make Room! by Harry Harrison (paperback)

–the book that Soylent Green was based on, though the movie bears very little resemblance to the novel. Harrison wrote this novel as a warning about unchecked population growth.

  1. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett (ebook via Overdrive)
  1. Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett (ebook via Overdrive)
  1. Planet of the Damned by Harry Harrison (ebook via manybooks.net, read using the Overdrive app)

–one of my favorite books, a man-versus-environment adventure that demonstrates the necessity of understanding versus a brute force approach to environmental and social problems. I know that description doesn’t sound exciting, but trust me. The entire book is filled with life and death struggles, assassination attempts, poison, you name it. If you haven’t read this yet, check it out NOW.

  1. Winter (The Lunar Chronicles) by Marissa Meyer (audiobooks via  audible)
  1. Doctor Horrible by various (graphic novel via my Barnes &  Noble gift card)
  1. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Primary Phase (audiobook via Audible),  by Douglas Adams
  1. Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein (ebook via Overdrive)

–a scifi book that takes place almost entirely on Earth from the point of view of a human raised by Martians. What else is there to say?

  1. Deathworld by Harry Harrison (paperback)
  1. Bossypants by Tina Fey (audiobook via Overdrive)
  1. Deathworld 2 by Harry Harrison (ebook via Overdrive)
  1. Doctor Who: Peacemaker by James Swallow (ebook via Overdrive)
  1. Leonard by William Shatner  (audiobook via Overdrive)
  1. Against the Fall of Night by Arthur C. Clarke (ebook via Overdrive)
  1. Doctor Who: Autonomy by Daniel Blythe (audiobook via Overdrive)
  1. Flow my tears, the Policeman said by Philip K. Dick (ebook via Overdrive)
  1.  UBIK by Philip K. Dick (audiobook via Overdrive)

–in this world created by PKD, people communicate (via technology) with the dead for a limited period of time after passing. Also, humans regularly travel to the moon, and there’s anti-psychics and conspiracies.

  1. The Trouble with Poetry by Billy Collins (ebook via Overdrive)
  1. The Forever War by Joe Haldeman  (ebook via Overdrive)
  1. Fool by Christopher Moore (ebook via Overdrive)
  1. The Walking Dead: No Turning Back (paperback graphic novel) by various authors
  1. Poetry on the Fly: 3WW by Tony Noland (ebook via Overdrive)
  1. Investigating Lois Lane by Tim Hanley (ebook via Overdrive)
  1. Aimless Love by Billy Collins (poetry) (ebook via Overdrive)
  1. Confessions of a Buddhist Atheist by Stephen Batchelor (audiobook via Overdrive)
  1. Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck (audiobook via Overdrive)
  1. The Places We Find Ourselves by Diane Kendig (paperback)
  1. And a Pencil to Write Your Name: poems from the Nicaraguan Poetry Workshop, translated by Diane Kendig (paperback)
  1.  I, Iago by Nicole Galland (ebook via Overdrive)
  1. Quantum Lyrics (poems) by Van Jordan (paperback)
  1. The Wasteland and Other Poems by TS Eliot (ebook via Overdrive)
  1. The Serpent of Venice by Christopher Moore (ebook via Overdrive)
  1. Geek Wisdom: the Sacred Teachings of Nerd Culture by Stephen H. Segal (ebook via Overdrive)
  1.  Crisis on Infinite Earths (graphic novel via Hoopla) by Marv Wolfman and George Perez
  1. Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss (paperback)
  1. Darth Plagueis by James Luceno (audiobook dvd)
  1.  Poets’ Corner compiled by John Lithgow (ebook and audiobook)
  1. Renascence and Other Poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay  (ebook via manybooks.net)
  1. A Few Figs from Thistles by Edna St. Vincent Millay (ebook via manybooks.net)
  1. The Geek Feminist Revolution by Kameron Hurley (ebook via Overdrive)
  1. Yes Please by Amy Poehler (ebook and audiobook via Overdrive)

45.The Absolutely true diary of a part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie (ebook via Overdrive)

  1. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (audiobook via Overdrive)
  1. BLINK by Larry Koller  (beta–pdf)
  1. Confessions of a Crazy Cat Lady by Sandra Gurvis (paperback)
  1. Phantasmagoria and Other Poems by Lewis Carroll  (ebook via manybooks.net)
  1. The Walking Dead,  volume 25 (graphic novel via Hoopla)
  1. The Walking Dead, volume 26 (graphic novel via Hoopla)
  1. Crafting with Feminism by Bonnie Burton (ebook via Overdrive)
  1. On Writing by Stephen King (audiobook via Overdrive)
  1. The Geeky Chef by Cassandra Reeder (ebook via Hoopla)
  1. The Art of Peace by Morihei Ueshiba (audiobook via Hoopla)
  1. The Art of War by Sun Tzu  (ebook via Hoopla) (audiobook via Overdrive)
  1. Horoscopes for the Dead by Billy Collins (ebook via Overdrive)
  1.  Selected Poems of Langston Hughes, poetry collection by Langston Hughes (ebook via Overdrive)

.

I did notice that some books are easier to consume as audiobooks, depending on the skill of the reader. For instance, Mort(e) was an incredible audiobook; however, if I’d just read the text, I would have missed the reader’s insight and humor. On the other hand, I think I would have enjoyed Winter, the last installment of the Lunar Chronicles, much more as pure text. The voices the reader chose to give the characters didn’t necessarily fit, and sometimes I just found them annoying.

Poetry, in general, I prefer to consume in paperback form in order to preserve the formatting. However, some poetry books were either only available as ebooks or simply easier to acquire in digital form. Overdrive, the library checkout program I use, has a system in place for some poetry so that minimal formatting is lost.

If you’d like to discuss any of the books in my list, feel free to comment below or contact me through Twitter or FaceBook. In the meantime, have a lovely week!