may heart and soul
trump hard and sold
Aren’t there better ways we can spend $700,000,000,000.00, anyway?
I’m excited to announce that two of my writings have just been published in issue 23 (Crime Scene) of The City Poetry (www.thecitypoetry.com), a zine which originated in Cleveland and is earning a well-deserved reputation as one of the best underground art and literature publications in the world. This new issue features contributions by a fantastic assortment of fine poets and other artists, including a few of my best friends.
The City Poetry Press has also just published a superb collection of 40-some years worth of poetry and artwork by the legendary Steven B. Smith (who I once honored in my Favorite Poets from A to Z blog series). Here’s a press release The City Poetry‘s brilliant editor and publisher, Kathy Ireland Smith, posted on her blog at www.walkingthinice.com:
Saturday, September 27, 2008
C I T Y P O E T R Y Z I N E
- IN THIS ISSUE: Kimberley Diamond Bones, Dianne Borsenik, E B Bortz, Hilary Brandt, Bree, C M Brooks, Michael H Brownstein, Courtney Campbell, Jeff Chiplis, Eli P Cimota, Jesus Crisis, Djuana, Jim Deuchers, KE, Michele Gibbs, Geoffrey Landis, Jim Lang, Max Uhler, Ronnie McGrath, Rob Plath, Jackie Sheeler, Smith & Lady, C@ptain Wallnut and Jason Williams. Cleveland Poetry Scenes is reviewed in this issue.
T H E C I T Y I N P R I N T *
*CONTRIBUTORS: Contact me for your black & white contributor’s issue at cost ($8.74) via Paypal. ($8.74 includes shipping in the US – $13.94 at cost for color issue; contact me at email@example.com.)
C I T Y P O E T R Y P R E S S presents Z E N O V E R Z E R O
Zen Over Zero: Selected poems 1964-2008 by Steven B. Smith. 69 poems and 22 collages over 44 years. Purchase for $12.00 at Lulu.com.
“Let’s face it Smith, if the song ‘My Way’ were written about your life, it would be lyrics by William S. Burroughs & music by Laurie Anderson, as performed by The Velvet Underground. The 45-RPM vinyl would have been a blue corrosion color rather than black, with Voodoo Lounge as the cover and ‘Voodoo Child’ as side B. And THAT my friend would be one highly collectible single.” – Steve Reynolds
Last week I posted a blog including video of Christopher Franke’s featured reading during the Deep Cleveland Poetry Hour at Borders Books & Music in Strongsville, Ohio, on 8/8/2008.
Here’s the sequel to that blog, featuring video of the entire open mic session that followed. Some good poets read that night – and I suspect there’s something for everyone in the video. But first we’ll start with emcee Joshua Gage’s introduction to the open mic (about 6 minutes long):
Some of the news folks mentioned is out-of-date because I’ve taken so long to get this video posted. I apologize. But I did almost no editing, so you could get a real feel for how one of these events goes. There are lots of different poetry venues with all sorts of styles in the Greater Cleveland area, and I hope to give you a taste of some other flavors in the future.
Now, here’s the open mic session video (about 47 minutes long). It starts with me reading two poems, Lobal Warman and Past Present Future Tense. Eventually, I’ll break this up and post some of the highlights on You Tube. In the meantime (though I encourage you to watch the whole thing and I guarantee you’ll discover some gems), here’s a handy “minute:second” index to help you find particular poets:
00:00 – Jesus Crisis
03:30 – Dianne Borsenik
07:00 – Nancy
10:00 – Anna Ruiz
14:00 – T.M. Göttl
17:25 – dan smith
21:50 – J.E. Stanley
25:45 – Michael Ceraolo
26:45 – Brian Dorsey
30:55 – Robin
32:40 – Terry Provost
37:25 – Joshua Gage
39:25 – Christopher Franke
43:20 – closing remarks
I only wish I hadn’t censored myself. I didn’t think “pissed” was permitted, so I spelled it out at the end of the first poem. But watching the video (either on this blog or its predecessor), I noticed that Joshua used the phrase “piss off” in reference to the manager. Ha! Well, I’ll say it, next time! After all, if we can have a Dick in the White House, we should at least be able to have “pissed” in a poetry reading.
Here are some of my photos from that evening:
Geri Burroughs and Dianne Borsenik
Anna Ruiz and Dan Smith
silly Jesus Crisis self portrait
* * * *
To watch Christopher Franke’s featured reading earlier that evening check out
Deep Cleveland Poetry 8/8/2008: Christopher Franke Video
The Deep Cleveland Poetry Hour takes place
the 2nd Friday of each month (8:30 p.m.)
at Borders Books and Music in Strongsville, Ohio
Books by many of the poets who appear in the video
are available at http://www.deepcleveland.com/deepclevelandbooks.html
T.M. Göttl’s Stretching the Window is available at
Dianne Borsenik’s Undressed will be available in the next month or so from
Crisis Chronicles Press
The Crisis Chronicles Online Library features poems by
Dianne Borsenik (Muse) and T.M. Göttl (Out of the Desert)
And more work by many of these poets is available in these volumes from Amazon:
To read my just published review of Cleveland Poetry Scenes
please check out issue #23 of The City Poetry at
I almost never watch TV – but made an important exception last night.
I was surprised how well McCain handled himself in the first Democratic debate – how prepared he seemed – and how strong. That said, he only left me more convinced that he’s the wrong choice for America and the world. He repeated the same “points” over and over and over. Kept emphasizing his “experience” – like this gives him the edge in the realm of good judgment. Ummm… didn’t he have all this “experience” when he supported Bush’s ill-conceived invasion of Iraq? Didn’t he have all this experience when he claimed the war would be quick and easy, when he said we knew where the weapons of mass destruction were, and when he said we’d be greeted as liberators? Does McCain have more experience than either Nixon or Cheney had when they took office? Did their “experience” make them pillars of good judgment?
And I’m offended that McCain pulled his POW stint out of the bag at the end. How being imprisoned – unjustly or not, in service of your country or not – makes you qualified to be President, I’m not sure. I spent more years unjustly incarcerated than McCain did and I’m not qualified to be President. Maybe when McCain figures out that tax cuts for the rich aren’t an economic panacea (except, perhaps, for the richest), figures out that invading Iraq didn’t do a goddamned thing to protect anyone from terrorism or WMD, and figures out how many houses he owns … maybe then I’ll believe he’s the best choice to resolve our foreign policy and economic nightmares.
McCain claims to be bold. But Bush has been bold, too. Combine boldness and bad judgment and you can fuck up a whole lot in a very short time. We’ve had eight years of that already.
And don’t forget McCain is the guy who less than two weeks ago said that “the fundamentals of our economy are strong.” He’s also the guy who told the Wall Street Journal less than a year ago that “I know a lot less about economics than I do about military and foreign policy issues. I still need to be educated.” McCain: wrong about Iraq from the start, admittedly weak on the economy, and likely to tilt the Supreme Court (which gave Bush victory over Gore) further to the right. Yet folks will still vote for him. I just don’t get it.
Here’s a piece of last night’s debate, in case you missed it. You can find more at You Tube.
If you don’t vote for Obama, don’t vote at all, or end up voting for a third-party candidate, you’ll make it that much easier for McCain to win. That half of America seems content letting (or helping) that happen scares me to death.
For a CNN analysis of the debate, follow this link:
Thanks to everyone who commented on yesterday’s blog, Bridge Over Muddy Waters?. Once again, you’ve proven that the comments are often better reading than the blogs themselves. Thank you! I haven’t responded to individual comments there yet because I’ve had a splitting headache last night and this morning – and I want to be able to think straight when I respond. But I’ll try to do so in the near future.
In one of those comments, Elena mentioned how much she’s enjoyed Joy Leftow’s writing. I’m pleased to announce (for those who don’t yet know) that yesterday I posted Poetic Concussions (by Joy Leftow) in the Crisis Chronicles Online Library. Please check it out. And also note that there’s a link to her cool poetry blog somewhere in my left sidebar.
My headache is inhibiting any attempt at creativity or deep thinking, but there’s something else cool I did yesterday and would like to share with you.
d.a. levy, poet (1942-1968)
If you’ve been following my blog and online library postings for a while, you know that I’m a huge fan of Cleveland underground poetry legend d.a. levy. He’s been classified as both Beat and street, but his poetry defies any one label. He is revered not only as a poet, but also as a publisher and artist. He produced a fantastic underground newspaper called The Buddhist Third Class Junkmail Oracle. He was also persecuted – and at one point arrested for reading a poem featuring the word cocksucker in public. Finally, on 24 November 1968, he committed suicide at the age of 26.
Yesterday Geri and I went on a pilgrimage to d.a. levy’s grave site (Whitehaven Memorial Park in Mayfield Village) and took a few photos.
I had expected it to be easy to find. I guess I thought there would be signs directing us to it – or at least a big headstone or a well decorated plot. Flowers, beer bottles, a Buddhist gong, something!…. After all, to me, levy is one of the most important people in Cleveland (and literary) history.
But we couldn’t find it. The only big markers in the cemetery were devoted to military folks.
So we drove to the front office. I asked the lady inside if she could direct me to “where the poet d.a. levy is buried.”
“Who?” I was shocked to learn she’d never heard of him before. But she said she’d find him, then went into a back room and started digging in a filing cabinet. “Is that spelled L E V Y?”
Finally she pulled out a dusty 3 by 5 inch index card. “Would that be Darryl Allan?”
“Yes, Darryl Allan.”
So she pulled out a Xerox copy of the cemetery map, marked his plot with a yellow highlighter, and told me which way to go.
When we got there, I was surprised by how humble it was. It looked as though no one but the lawn mowers had been there in years – like he’d been forgotten. I wondered how long it had been since the last time that index card had been pulled out of the cabinet. And I was surprised that his grave marker identified him not as POET, but as SON.
On 24 November 2008, which will be the 40th anniversary of d.a.’s death, I plan to visit his gravesite again, around noon, and pay tribute to him by reading his poetry aloud. Nothing official or organized (though that could change if the spirit so moves) – might just be me there. But bring a lawn chair, if you want. You can read, too. The man is largely responsible for the Cleveland poetry scene being as vibrant as it is today. Sadly, though, there are some venues where you still can’t read much of d.a. levy’s poetry aloud. You can read books about war and the Holocaust at those events, but you can’t say “fuck,” even if it’s in tribute to one of Cleveland’s greatest writers. Sad…. But I don’t expect any ghosts to rise from their graves in protest if someone reads a so-called dirty word in the cemetery.
Here are some more photos from the site:
levy’s at the bottom, that close to the road
from the other side
couldn’t leave the scene without standing up against censorship at least once
see you 24 November
P.S. As you see, I had no interest in photographing the war monuments. I couldn’t help but recall these lines from levy’s “Cleveland: The Rectal Eye Visions”:
an uneasy feeling to think of justice
& love and then find oneself
lost in a city of war monuments
* * * * *
I’m in the process of adding as many d.a. levy works as possible to the Crisis Chronicles Online Library. Here’s a link to a rough index of what’s available so far: http://library.crisischronicles.com/categories/levy%20(d.a.).aspx
To view a video of me reading some of levy’s work please visit:
For more d.a. levy, I recommend you check out clevelandmemory.org
You might also find www.clevelandpoetryarchive.com interesting
Some pre-coffee morning thoughts:
Poetry is a many splendored thing. It’s a means of self-expression, communication, therapy, entertainment and artistic/creative release – all good things – yet it’s much more than these. In a sense, poetry is a religion – and it’s reality.
There are some folks, however – and I’ve known quite a few – who see poetry as a bad thing, an ego trip, an escape from “real,” practical living and seeing.
Sometimes I wonder. In the course of striving to discover, express and unearth myself through the pursuit of poetry, could it be that I also bury my real self in it? Is it possible that the more we reveal ourselves, the more we unintentionally conceal ourselves? Or that the more we clarify ourselves through poetry, the more muddy the picture of what we’ve attempted to clarify becomes? If so, then why? Is there some sort of subconscious self-defense mechanism at work within us? Or is it more a case of reality itself being supremely muddy? In the latter case, our best efforts to clarify reality will only serve to reveal how muddy it is.
I don’t know. Maybe it’s like excavating archeological artifacts. The treasure we find might be muddy when we find it – but that doesn’t mean the treasure is made of mud or the mud coating was ever a real part of the treasure. It might have been very difficult to get to that point of discovery – navigating through jungles, doing lots of digging, or making one’s way through the depths to the ocean bottom. But just because we find the “item” we sought, whatever it might be, doesn’t mean our work is finished. Found treasures sometimes require careful cleaning, reconstruction, or preservation. Sometimes it takes a while to know what they are, put them in their proper context or fully make sense of them. Maybe we learn that certain components are missing and we must do more digging or sifting. Perhaps in some cases we can never fully make sense of what we’ve found. Maybe one person’s treasure is another person’s trash – and vice versa. And maybe – just maybe – in muddy reality it’s all treasure – and it’s all trash.
Should poetry be pretty or dirty? In other words… Is poetry a bridge over these muddy waters? Or should poetry eschew the bridge and dive in?
Jesus by Jesus [last night’s Photobucketization of a 2007 self-portrait]
[Poster designed by Dianne]
You’re gonna have to fight your own damned war
Cause we ain’t gonna fight no more
War is over (if you want it)
– John and Yoko
Today, 21 September, is the United Nations’ International Day of Peace.
Too bad it’s not a day of peace in real life….
Come on, people of the planet! Is it too hard to go one whole day without any of us killing any of our human brothers or sisters? One fucking day? Apparently it’s easier to fight and kill than to give peace a push up the evolutionary hill. What the hell’s wrong with us, anyway?
Give peace a chance. Please! What are we waiting for?…
Please visit http://www.internationaldayofpeace.org/
The Deep Cleveland Poetry Hour takes place every second Friday at Borders Books in Strongsville, Ohio. On 8 August 2008, we had the privilege of witnessing Cleveland poetic legend Christopher Franke in action. And I’m excited to report that he gave me permission to film his reading and post it on this blog.
Here’s emcee Joshua Gage’s introduction (about 6 minutes):
And, in my first experiment with Google Video (which lacks You Tube’s time limits), here’s Christopher Franke’s featured reading (around 27 minutes):
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More photos from that fabulous night, as well as video from the open mic session that followed Franke’s feature, will be coming to soon to a blog near you (namely this one). The open mic video will feature poetry readings by T.M. Göttl, Dianne Borsenik, J.E. Stanley, Josh Gage, me, and many others – as well as another brief taste of Franke to close the evening. Lots of goodies!
Crisis at Borders, 08/08/08 [photo by Dianne Borsenik]
Christopher Franke, 08/08/08 [photo by Jesus Crisis]