the kettle calls, the song of steamed leaves, sugarcane, and the warm cup in my hands. over toast i view the tea warmer's flame, the hearth and heart of our happy home
Next Friday, I’ll also post on my Patreon. If you’d like to read about my progress and plans for this year, you can subscribe to my Patreon and support my work for just $1 a month! Until next time, stay safe and well, and read often!
Happy New Year! Hopefully, 2021 will be less problematic than 2020.
In the meantime, I’ll share the books I’ve read in the past year. Due to the recent interesting times, many of them are books I’ve read before. When I want a comfort read, I’ll often reach for old favorites: Cyrano de Bergerac and The Walking Dead graphic novels are among my favorites. Since the list is pretty long (I’ll reach 100 one of these years!), I’m listing them by title. If you would like me to go into detail about any of these books, just leave a comment or contact me on social media. I love discussing books!
If you’d like to read one of these selections yourself, I’ve included links. Many of the reads were ebooks and audiobooks via various platforms, often through local libraries. I’ve always loved digital format, but in the past year it’s been more important than ever. Enjoy the list! Maybe you’ll find something you’ll like too.
Since my second book, An Optimist’s Journal of the End of Days and Other Stories, is due to be published via Venetian Spider Press this coming Tuesday, I thought I’d post a scifi-themed poem in honor of its publication. I hope you enjoyed it!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.:)
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.
**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.
I realize it’s a little harder to get the effect of this white cover on my blog’s already white background, but isn’t it great?!* The photo used for the cover art for Soul Picked Clean was taken by Peggy Honeydew, and the book is available for pre-order by Crisis Chronicles Press as of today!
I’m also thrilled to announce my book launch will take place at Mac’s Backs Books on Coventry on Saturday, March 30th, 2019. I will be reading alongside two other poets, and I will release other details as soon as they become available. I really hope to see you there. In addition to the pleasure I’ll derive from meeting you, if you buy my book from me in person I will donate ten percent of each sale to Project Gutenberg.
In other news, in the past couple weeks I’ve revamped my blog(s) to make it easier for readers to connect with my work. You’ll notice a blogroll with links to my Amazon Author page, Crisis Chronicles Press (my publisher), and other relevant links in the top right corner. My blog now also has a page displaying the Cleveland Poetics Calendar; simply click on the page link at the top if you’d like to attend some live poetry events in Northern Ohio! My FaceBook account received a facelift as well; I’ve set up a FaceBook Author page. If you have any other polite suggestions, I’d love to hear them.
Allison Joseph’s poetry collection, Little Epiphanies, is a lovely book.
Her tightly structured and orderly poems eloquently comment on everything from everyday clutter (“Little Epiphanies”) to our fellow mammals (“Ode to the Naked Mole Rat”). Yet she also skillfully uses iambic pentameter to poke fun at strict poetry format in “Sonnet for a Good Mood:”
“How funky can I be in fourteen lines;
how thick a groove can I lay down right here?
How bad can my ass be in these confines–
ten syllables each time seems so severe.”
On the next page, in “A Prayer for Women’s Bodies,” she smoothly transitions to more serious matters, honoring the imperfections that society would have us camouflage or hide:
“…love handles no longer
maligned, each waist its own territory,
own beloved landscape of bruise
or bone, wrinkle or fat. Let us honor
bone, whether porous or pointy,
shattered or submerged, hardworking
scaffolding holding us up when gravity
and graves could sink us down,…”
In fact, what amazes me most about this collection is that the subject matter is so varied while still fitting together well. She makes observations about racism in “Sundown Ghazal”, about Afro hairstyles as statements of black empowerment in “Thirty Lines about the Fro,” and her wandering pen touches on more mundane subjects like public transportation with equal parts observation and insight.
the swish of my skirt’s soft fabric
against my ankles
black translucent cloth flowing behind
threads catch upon the rough concrete
as my uneven gait
from old worn sandals clips and slides along the sidewalk
a cool breeze
softly strokes my hair
like a lover’s caress
my dark reflection
moves aside as the door swings slowly
open, then closes
Does that other me follow me inside with her dark gaze?
Saturday, November 10th, the Massillon Library’s Local Author Fair will feature several Ohio authors between 11am and 2pm. I will be reading from my work about 11:30. Please stop by and find out about the writers in your community. I hope to see you there!
The couple were married just weeks before Bill was diagnosed with cancer. The poems are arranged as a conversation between the husband and wife, with his poems in italics while hers are not. As he did not want to read any poems with angst, some of her poems were never seen by her husband; instead, they appear here as complimentary thoughts on their marriage and the experiences they shared in their short time together. She expresses her worry about his health, her admiration for his courage, and her despair of living without him. Some of her admissions are startling as well as moving.
OK, I’ll admit it.
I’m jealous of the cancer.
Ever since she moved in,
She’s had you breathless
He writes of his changing body and how he centers himself through meditation and the contemplation of labyrinths. He also writes of his love for her.
From “March 24, 2016”
…Perhaps angels are the nearest things to our souls, and
as such, are our closest companions to that which is divine.
Although it’s heartbreaking they only had a short time together, this book is a beautiful testament to living life to the fullest and appreciating every moment.
I am incredibly honored to announce that my first book of poetry, Soul Picked Clean, will be published by Crisis Chronicles Press in early 2019!
Crisis Chronicles Press was founded by John Burroughs in 2008. They’ve published writers from all over the world, in every continent except Antarctica, and from time to time give special emphasis to great Ohio poets. Crisis Chronicles recently published their 100th title.
I will also be appearing at the Massillon Library Local Author Fair on Saturday, November 10th from 1030am – 1pm. I will post updates about the book and future readings as information becomes available. Thank you!