POEM: “Social Distancing”

hand touching glass
Photo by Josh Hild on Pexels.com

 

Social Distancing

 

Socially distant, virtually inseparable

the links between us:

 

the ways we touch others,

not warm fingers interlaced

but swept across cool keyboards,

 

music shared across balconies,

tasting notes like a crisp wind

crossing borders and boundaries,

not the comforting embrace

 

but the smiling face miles away,

countries or continents or 

six full feet apart

 

so long as we’re not six feet under

we can bridge any distance.

smoothly typed texts, raised

voices spanning gaps, our words

 

heard by ears, read by wide eyes,

felt by drumming heartbeats:

emotion’s rising tide.

 

in this new world of isolation,

We all pull together.

 

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April is National Poetry Month, and although many poetry and writing events have been cancelled due to the current world crisis, we have also come together in other ways through technology. Many open mics, book launches, and other meetups have switched to virtual venues, and people are searching for new ways to come together, support each other, and consume art. 

 

So in the spirit of this unity, I’d love to share some online venues to help get through these trying times. My favorite poetry magazine, Rattle, has a podcast and a virtual open mic called Rattlecast that meets/posts weekly. The FaceBook group for Latitudes Poetry Night has switched from monthly (in person) meetups to weekly Wednesday night (online) Open Mics as a way to support others during quarantine. Different libraries have switched to online meetups for book clubs such as Barberton Library’s monthly Hooks and Books

 

There are also free downloadable ebooks from ManyBooks.Net, Project Gutenberg, and (for audiobooks) Librivox. And, last but not least, many libraries have online resources as well for checkouts–as well as other events. My favorite of these is the annual Read + Write: 30 Days of Poetry via Cuyahoga County Public Library; just sign up on the site for April emails with poems from Ohio poets as well as writing prompts.

 

This year, on April 5th, one of my poems from Soul Picked Clean will be the featured poem for Read + Write. I’m so honored to be part of this event and beyond thrilled!

 

So, I hope you enjoyed my poem! If you can, I urge you to take advantage of some of these online resources. If you are quarantined at home, you are helping to save lives. If you need to venture out to work to keep everyone else going during these difficult times, thank you. Your efforts are appreciated, and my heart goes out to you all. 

 

Take solace in the good things, and try to get through the bad. Stay safe, stay well, and read often!

2020-03-30: Virtual Poetry Reading for Soul Picked Clean by Cat Russell!

Today is the one year anniversary of the Book Launch for my first published book, my poetry collection, Soul Picked Clean.

Since an in-person event is obviously not possible now, I wanted to celebrate online! I read a few of my poems, explain the thoughts behind them, and talk about how to keep in touch online. Enjoy!

If you would like to attend my FaceBook LIVE Book Birthday Party tonight, please visit: https://tinyurl.com/rhmzktp

 

PODCAST LINK: https://authorcatrussell.podbean.com/mf/play/53ujkf/2020_03_30PoetryReading-SPC-CatRussell.mp3


*image courtesy of publicdomainpictures.net via Creative Commons License.

POEM: “Living in Limbo”

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Living in Limbo

 

life is lived

in the spaces between

 

the crook of the elbow

bent to bring the cup to our lips

 

the devil’s dimple smiling

just before that first warm sip

 

eternity peeks from behind

the crook of each bony finger

 

pinky extended toward 

the taste not yet reached

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This past week has been challenging for the entire world, so I thought this poem would be both appropriate and cheering. I hope you enjoyed it. Stay safe, stay well, and read often!

POEM: “Unicorn Passing in the Night”

Unicorn Passing in the Night

 

She is a study in beauty.

 

Legend says her mane glistens white

as the moon on a cloudless eve,

but she clothes herself in any color: 

champagne, azure, emerald, lilac,

red as life’s blood, or black as death itself.

 

Legend says her single snow-white horn

glistening in moonlight cures poison,

plague, fevers, and the madness of rabid dogs,

but nothing of its sharpness,

its keen knife’s edge, its pointed menace,

its ability to pierce not just the veil

of starless nights but truth and flesh.

 

Legend says she is drawn to virgins and innocence.

but today she inhales pollution from passing cars,

the rot of butchered bodies buried in ruined forests,

and the desolation of urban decay

–yet she cleanses air like trees, exhales

the perfume of springtime flowers misunderstood as weeds.

 

She leaves, breaks wind with hues of ocean blue, 

the violent violet of freshly pressed grapes,

the crimson flame of a forest fire,

the golden color of sunlight,

and the green of springtime grass

trailing moon gas in her wake.

 

If you listen closely, you can still hear her laughter.



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This poem was a challenge taken from a conversation with the lovely poet, Constance Plumley, to write an unfunny poem about a unicorn that “farts rainbows.” I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!


*image courtesy of publicdomainpictures.net via Creative Commons License.

POEM: “Achilles, the Heel”

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Achilles, the Heel

 

Greatest of Greek warriors that fought

upon the soil surrounding distant Troy,

you fought with the strength of a demigod,

yet what you are most famous for is your

weakest part.

.

 

 

 

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As always, I will post here again in two weeks, and my Patreon posts once a week. In the meantime, if you have any suggestions or requests, please let me know in the comments, and have a great couple weeks!

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*image courtesy of publicdomainpictures.net via Creative Commons Universal License.

 

POEM: “Our Lives are Borrowed from Tomorrow” *AND* Announcements

baby-buddha-4

Our Lives are Borrowed from Tomorrow”

 

Each day of sun,

rain, hair-raising wind,

pink blushes, joy,

fear-chilled veins,

apple blossom

snow-capped hours

is taken from another

day by day by day.

greens consumed

staving off the grave,

buying one more

twenty four

until we’re spent,

our final debt paid.

 

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My poetry collection, Soul Picked Clean, went into its second printing this week! If you would like your very own copy, you can buy one at one of my upcoming poetry events where I’ll be happy to sign it for you! Otherwise, you can directly from Crisis Chronicles or Amazon for $12.

I’m also reading The Philosopher Kings by Jo Walton, Watchmen and Philosophy by various authors, and The Rubaiyat by Omar Khayyam.

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UPCOMING EVENTS:

JUNE

Every Saturday night CanalFulton has an open mic downtown (weather/schedule permitting). Musicians and poets welcome!

Wednesday, June 19th (7pm – 9pm)

Latitudes Poetry Night meets at Compass Coffee in Akron on the third Wednesday of every month. There is usually a featured poet for the first hour, followed by an Open Mic.

Thursday, June 27th (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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JULY

Saturday, July 6th @7pm Poetry at Manic on Main Art Gallery in Wadsworth. Poets Sonia Potter, Cat Russell, and Cris Shell. Free event. Merch available.

Thursday, July 11th @7pm

Broadsides and Ephemera open mic from 7pm – 830pm at Loganberry Books. I will be a featured reader, and copies of Soul Picked Clean will be available for purchase at the store.

Wednesday, July 17th @7pm – 9pm

Latitudes Poetry Night at Compass Coffee in Akron.

Friday, July 19th  @4pm – 7pm I will have a table for book sales and signing at Peace, Love, and lil Donuts in Canal Fulton. Please, stop by!

Thursday, July 25th @6pm The Write Stuff Author Group meets at North Canton Library. Bring 6-10 copies of a WIP if you’d like feedback, or you can come and just sit in!

Saturday, July 27th

Literary Cleveland’s INKubator Writers’ Conference

This all day conference is FREE and takes place at the Cleveland Main Library.

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Thank you for visiting my blog, and I hope to see you at one of these events. Have a lovely week!

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*Image courtesy of publicdomainpictures.net via Creative Commons Universal License

Finding Poetry

wood-jmj

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!

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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.