Don’t believe everything you read

I began this blog in 2007 and a lot has changed a lot since then.  My truth (or what I considered truth) throughout that period has not always corresponded with your truth.  And as I look back at these entries I realize it doesn’t always correspond with my truth now either.  I’ve grown, evolved, and I’m glad.  Part of me wants to delete this blog and start fresh.  But even if I did that I couldn’t delete who I was and where I’ve come from and how I’ve gotten here — nor, in many ways, would I want to (though in a few cases I would).  So I am leaving this archive online like an old scrapbook for you and me to revisit from time to time (or not).

Most of the photos may disappear when GoDaddy discontinues QuickBlogcast (where they are hosted) in June, and I may or may not re-upload them here in WordPress eventually.  To do so will take a lot of free time that I don’t have yet.  Some photos in the earlest blog entries are hosted by Photobucket and will probably remain online longer (hopefully much longer).

Meanwhile, I remain grateful to everyone who has read my blog and responded over the years and who, in the process, has been a part of my ongoing evolution.  If you’d like to follow my progress (and process?) in the future, you may do so by clicking here to visit The Tao of Jesus Crisis v. 3.0.

Thanks again. I hope to see you there.

Please Support Ohio Senate Bill 84 to Create a State Poet Laureate

Yesterday, Michael Salinger, Anna Soter, Steve Abbott, Mark Hersman and I had the privilege of testifying in favor of Senate Bill 84 (which aims to create an Ohio Poet Laureate position) in Columbus. Dear Ohio friends, poets and other artists, I urge you to write to your state senator and ask that she or he support this bill.

Click here to find your state senator.
Click here to read Senate Bill 84.
Click here to read Michael Salinger’s testimony on his blog.
Below you will find my own testimony.

[JUNE 5th UPDATE:  The Ohio Senate passed S.B. 84, and it has now moved on to the Ohio House for consideration.  So thank your state senator if he or she supported the bill.  And now it’s time to write to your state representative.]


Me testifying – photo by Salinger

To esteemed Chairman Burke, Ranking Member Smith and members of the State Government Oversight and Reform Committee, thank you for the opportunity to present sponsor testimony on Senate Bill 84.

My name is John Burroughs. I am a Cleveland poet and the founder of Crisis Chronicles Press, who has published books by many of Ohio’s best writers, as well as a wide array of poets from around the world.  I also co-founded the monthly Lix and Kix Poetry Extravaganza and annual Snoetry winter wordfest, and I currently host the Monday at Mahall’s Poetry and Prose reading series in Lakewood, Ohio.  Our events regularly draw featured poets and other guests from as far away as New York and California and even, upon occasion, other countries.

Our out of town guests, without exception, are impressed by the vibrancy, diversity, dedication and great skill exhibited by the Ohio poetry community.  I’ve heard many of them say that certain venues in Cleveland or Columbus, in Akron or Toledo or Cincinnati are the best places they’ve ever read poetry, and with some of the most talented and enthusiastic crowds.  And yet, more than once, a featured poet from out of state has expressed disbelief that a great state like Ohio is one of the few states that do not yet have a Poet Laureate.

Around Presidential election season I often hear variations on the phrase “As goes Ohio, so goes the nation.”  And it’s true.  The same rich diversity we see and celebrate in the landscape, people and culture of our great state is a reflection of our United States as a whole.  But it is also just as evident in our Ohio poetry community.  You can look at the comprehensive northeast Ohio poetry calendar I help maintain at for evidence.  Any given night, you will find live poetry events at libraries, bookstores, coffee houses, taverns, parks, festivals, farm markets, junkyards, art museums and private homes across the region.  In Greater Cleveland, where I live, I personally know hundreds of dedicated published poets – white, black, Hispanic, men and women, academic and street, rural and urban, Democratic, Republican and independent, teachers, students, factory workers, grocery store owners and deli clerks, bag boys, baristas, telemarketers, restaurant cooks and servers, minimum wage earners and doctors, university professors, attorneys, accountants, electricians, registered nurses and surgical technicians, farmers, stay-at home moms and retired grandparents.  I am not retired yetbut I do have eight grandchildren.

And what state do I want my grandchildren to grow up in?  The great state of Ohio, with its great Lake, great landscapes, rich history and fine people; a land where hard work, education, communication, honest achievement and our rich culture are highly valued; a land of opportunity, the heart of it all, where there is so much to discover and where not only does poetry matter – I would argue that it should and does matter everywhere – but where so many people from so many walks of life across our state know poetry matters and know how much it matters.  This is why I am most grateful for the opportunity to speak before you today, esteemed members of the committee, and I urge you to support Senate Bill 84 and honor our state, its people, and its reputation by creating the position of Ohio Poet Laureate.

National Poetry “Month” Ain’t Over Yet

…at least for some of us.

Tomorrow, May 5th, at 7:30 p.m. I will host Monday at Mahall’s.  Join us for a fabulous night of living literature, featuring Ohio treasures Dawn Shepler Shimp and Smith & Lady — PLUS, for any who dare, brews, bowling and a bowl-you-over open mic.  For more information, click here.

Dawn photo by Jen Pezzo, Smith/Lady photos by Smith

Thursday May 8th at 7 p.m. I will be at Heights Arts in Cleveland Heights for Ekphrastacy.  The gallery’s current exhibition is Morganites: Fiber in Flux, curated by Tom Balbo of the Morgan Papermaking Conservatory.  Balbo will give an informal talk about the conservatory and the artists represented in this show. Then poets Bunny Breslin, Jill Sell, Linda Tuthill, Linda Goodman Robiner and me (John Burroughs) will read new poems inspired by works in the exhibition.  I will debut my “In Due Season,” written from the perspective of Melissa Jay Craig’s Reap.  (To see Reap from three angles, click here, here and here.  To see and hear my poem, you’ll have to come to the event.)  Thanks to Cleveland Heights Poet Laureate Kathleen Cerveny for having me be a part of this.

Then on Wednesday May 14th at 7 p.m. I will probably be participating in the annual Hessler Street Fair Poetry Competition at Mac’s Backs Books in Cleveland Heights.  I say probably because I’ve submitted a poem, but I’ve not yet heard whether I’ve made the cut.  For more info on the competition, click here.

And finally, don’t forget to get your submissions in for the 2014 Best Cleveland Poem Competition sponsored by Tim Misny. Later this year, Crisis Chronicles Press will publish a book of the best work submitted. 

# (The End)

I received this message in an email from GoDaddy last night:

“When we retire all Quick Blogcast® accounts on June 25, 2014, you will no longer have access to your account, including its content, and your blog will no longer be available on the Internet.”

Of course this will apply to this Tao of Jesus Crisis blog, as well as the Crisis Chronicles Press blog and the blog-based Crisis Chronicles cyber litmag.

I’ve gone through this before with MySpace, Xanga and Yahoo 360.  I thought that by paying for a blog service like QuickBlogcast (which I’ve done since December 2007) I could avoid the possibility of such loss.  (Why would they eliminate my blog if it’s a source of income for them?)  But I was wrong.

That said, I’d been wishing for a while that I could abandon GoDaddy, but I knew the URL permalinks to all my individual entries would be changed if I did – which would break thousands of links to my site from around the internet – plus certain blog content (e.g. PayPal links, the Cleveland Poetry Calendar and any Java-based material) would be stripped and much of my formatting lost in any transfer.  Now I have to do it anyway.

Of course this notice arrived on what would’ve been Uncle Bob’s 70th birthday (he died less than two months after Mom did last year) and during the week of what would’ve been Mom’s 66th birthday.  The first anniversary of her death will be May 5th, followed soon by Mother’s Day.

So I was already struggling to come to terms with loss and impermanence and all the like, things I always believed I could handle better than most people intellectually but which are proving me quite mistaken emotionally.  I’m already grieving deeply, even maybe more than after she first died and I was in shock and had to be robotlike to do the things I had to do.  And though this blog fiasco is another very hard thing to cope with, in another sense it really doesn’t seem that important to me anymore.  I no longer have any illusons that my words are that important or might last long after my death.  And I’d throw away my blog, my poetry and everything else to have my mom back.

I cry.  I want to give up.  But I won’t.

So I’ll see you when I get the new blogsite set up and everything transferred.

Thanks for reading and caring.

2014 Best Cleveland Poem Competition

In February, Crisis Chronicles Press published Songs in the Key of Cleveland: An Anthology of the 2013 Best Cleveland Poem Competition, guest edited by contest winner Dianne Borsenik and featuring contributions from some of northern Ohio’s best writers.

Now the 2014 Best Cleveland Poem Competition, sponsored by Tim “Make Them Pay” Misny, is underway and we’d love for you to contribute.  Submit your best poems with the theme ThisIsCLE to by May 18th for your chance to win groovy prizes and appear in the next anthology. 

Inside the Razor Ribbon, Then Underground

This Thursday at 5:30 I’ll be performing poetry for the residents of the Grafton Reintegration Center in Lorain County, then helping judge their poetry slam.  This is especially meaningful for me on a couple of levels.  (1) My Mom, who passed away a year ago, used to work at this same prison back when it was known as the North Coast Correctional Treatment Facility.  And (2) I was once a prisoner myself, from 1993 to 2004, though not at that facility.  I also returned to prison as a civilian volunteer mentor in 2006 and 2007 before finally deciding to put some distance between myself and the system for many years.  The time feels right to return.  But more on that in a future blog post….

Then Saturday April 26th (the day before Mom’s birthday) I’ll be performing in the basement of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Cleveland during the Underground Poetry segment (orchestrated by HobGob Press) of Station Hope, “a block party with a purpose” put on by Cleveland Public Theatre.  “Station Hope is a multi-arts event that celebrates the triumphs of the Underground Railroad, the history of St. John’s Church and the contemporary struggles for freedom and justice.”  Poets from several northern Ohio small presses will be joining us in the underground.

(BOTTOM DOG PRESS) 6:30-7:00 — Larry Smith / Ray McNiece / Vladimir Swirynsky

(WRITING KNIGHTS/GREEN PANDA) 7:30-8:00 — Azriel Johnson / Skylark Bruce / Russell Vidrick

(NIGHTBALLET/CRISIS CHRONICLES) 8:30-9:00 — Dianne Borsenik / John Burroughs / Jim Lang

(HOBGOB PRESS) Wandering Poet in Between Time Slots — Brandon Stroud

Juliet Cook responds to “Secret Letters” by j/j hastain

[Secret Letters by j/j hastain was published in October by Crisis Chronicles Press.  As Juliet Cook of Blood Pudding Press is a fine poet and and one of my favorite publishers, I am most grateful that she’s offered the following response to j/j’s book.]

Secret Letters cover art by Marnie Weber



This isn’t going to be a standard book review, so much as a small array of thoughts and feelings derived from partaking of its content.


Well, I guess the first part could be perceived as akin to a semi-standard mini-review – but then the red part in the middle is focused on personal divergence regarding female blood flow and clots and positive/negative creative horrific overly personal goop – and then when the font color turns black again, the two perspectives fuse together and end my review. I’ll go ahead and number them into three sections, in case some people would rather avoid the overly personal section two.




Part 1: (Mini- Review)


“There are ways to turn the orbs inside out without having to break them.”




Like most of j/j hastain’s poetry collections that I’ve read, much of the content fuses visceral imagery with the mind’s perception of mental/physical relationships, how the body responds and why.  The mind and body fusion is not just focused on the outer body, but also inwardly.  In “Secret Letters”, this inward focus includes positioning, the liquids inside, and different kinds of perception of (experimentation with) insemination and reproduction, both mental and physical.


“I told them to tie me to the cross that had never been forced upright.”




The liquids inside could be explored as an attempt to discover one’s own non-traditional mind/body connections and/or desires and/or spirituality – to find oneself (and/or another variation of oneself and/or a partner for oneself) on a deeper level.


“Digging in the moist meadow I unearthed a set of swan wings that had been dyed red. The wings were somehow animate and flapping without them having a center”




Much of j/j’s work is described as having a cross-genre, trans-genre focus and while I don’t disagree with that, most of the recent content I’ve read by j/j strikes me as uniquely feminine, in which the primary genre amalgamation seems womanly and earthly – female mind and body combined with the ground, dirt, water, plants (transplants), animals, birds, and blood flow.  Underground, buried down, dug up, re-birthed, renewed and open to more exploration.

****Click here to read Juliet Cook’s entire response, including “Part 2: (Overly Personal Goop)” and “Fusion Mix Finale.”****

Juliet Cook is editor/publisher of a one-woman indie press, Blood Pudding Press, which specializes in poetry and artsy little misfit offerings.  She also edits Blood Pudding Press’s spooky sister, an online blog-style literary magazine called Thirteen Myna Birds, which is always accepting submissions.  She is the author of more books than I can count, including Horrific Confection (2008, BlazeVOX), Post-Stroke (2011, Blood Pudding Press for dusie kollektiv 5), Thirteen Designer Vaginas (2011, Hyacinth Girl Press) and Poisonous Beautyskull Lollipop (2013, Grey Book Press).

Mahall’s, Frank Giampietro and Milk Stout – Lief!

Tonight’s my first night hosting the Monday at Mahall’s Poetry and Prose Series, and I’ll hope you’ll come out.  Our featured poet for the evening is Frank Giampietro, interim director of the Cleveland State University Poetry Center and author of Begin Anywhere [from Alice James Books].  There’ll be beer, bowling and an open mic.

Last week, I created a Facebook fan page for the series.  Feel free to like it if you’re so inclined:

Also, I’m happy to report that my poem “Milk Stout” appears in the just released fourth issue of Lief Magazine.  View it for free by clicking here (my poem’s on page 25).