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



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.


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”


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.






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!

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


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


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.



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.




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.



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.


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


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

Finding Poetry


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.



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.

COVER REVEAL: Soul Picked Clean

Soul Picked Clean FRONT COVER


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.

Until next time, have a lovely week!


*I still hotly advocate the necessity of interrobangs!



POEM: Mindfulness


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!

*image courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.Net via Creative Commons License.


BOOK REVIEW: Hard to Swallow by Pat & Bill Hurley

hurley front cover (2)4137971003243743176..jpg


Hard to Swallow by Pat & Bill Hurley is a beautiful collection of poetry.

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.

From “Jealous”

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.

POEM: I Remember


I Remember


Seventeen years ago

the world changed


my world changed


Seventeen years ago

I held my infant son in my arms

as I watched the buildings burn

across every channel


as I watched the planes

hit the towers again

and again

and again


as I watched the billowing black smoke

the ash of the fallen

of the thrown

of the incinerated


of those who threw

their own lives away

to snatch the lives of innocents

for the crime working in a country they hated


I remember watching footage

on tv of people in foreign lands

dancing and cheering at the news of so many lives lost

and wondering why


I remember watching the face

of the child in my arms

and wondering

what kind of world he would live in


the same wondering I felt

when I had watched the news days after his birth

the news of the newborn babe found in a dumpster

his life thrown away


the same wondering I felt

when a gunman shot up kindergartners

looking forward to Christmas parties

and frosted glittery cupcakes


the same wondering I felt

when students shot up their high school,

then themselves, shooting

for simultaneous oblivion and notoriety


the same wondering I felt

when Batman fans died

crouching on floors and hiding behind seats

for the sin of making it to opening night


the same wondering I felt

when a middle schooler one district over

shot himself in his school’s bathroom,

imagining his blood splattered on floors and walls


the same wondering I felt

when a couple from my son’s own high school

shot themselves in the woods outside his friend’s home

not ten minutes away


the same wondering I felt

when I thought of those other families,

of the victims, heroes, loved ones,

of children growing up without mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers


the same wondering I feel

when I think how easily it could be me




*image courtesy of publicdomainpictures.net via Creative Commons license

**The above poem is dedicated to the families and victims of September 11th, as well as the victims of violence around the world throughout the years. May your loved ones never be forgotten. May you always be safe and free.