It’s been a long time. A friend pointed out the other day that my blog has been “languishing” lately. Since October 5th’s Karma Souptra (poem), I’ve written only one quality blog. And even that blog – What Happened at the 806 Lix and Kix Tuesday? – felt unfinished when I posted it. After my recent resolution to post a quality blog every day, our four grandchildren (ages 6, 5, 4 and 3) and their mother had to move in with us for at least a month, and I’ve been struggling to find not only writing time but a clear undistracted mind when I do have writing time. I’ve at least found time and mind to continue adding quality writing to the Crisis Chronicles Online Library daily and to leave a few terse comments here and there – but that’s about it.
One intended blog entry that’s been languishing in my tired, distracted brain is an account of September 11th’s very cool poetry event at the Literary Cafe in Cleveland. The featured readers that night were two of Cleveland’s finest poets, Amy Bracken Sparks and Philip Metres. Though I’d befriended them both on Facebook in advance – and very much liked what I’d read of their poetry – this was my first time actually meeting them. And I was not disappointed. I feel confident saying that Amy and Phil are not only excellent poets, but excellent people – and I came away from the Lit that night with even greater respect for both.
The Literary Cafe’s Steve Goldberg chats with Philip Metres [photo by JC]
Because I don’t know how much time I’ll have before the children arise, I won’t attempt to do the night justice in this blog; but I’ll share a few reflections and photos.
Though Amy Bracken Sparks has been a highly esteemed poet for many years, I (being a relative newbie to the scene) only discovered her work early this year in Cleveland Poetry Scenes: A Panorama & Anthology (Bottom Dog Press, 2008). Since then, I’ve read and enjoyed a lot more of her work and become a faithful reader of her very good blog. For possessing such a powerful literary “voice,” Amy seemed surprisingly bashful in person (though I’ve met her only this once). Her poetry is anything but bashful, however. On the page or on the stage, her words prove not only that strength and sensitivity are not mutually exclusive concepts, but also that together they are greater than the sum of their parts.
Here’s a video of Amy’s 9/11 performance (filmed by Literary Cafe proprietor Andy Timithy):
Anyone who’s read the four Philip Metres pieces I’ve included so far in the Crisis Chronicles Online Library knows he’s one of my current favorites. (He maintains a very good blog as well.) I love Philip’s recent collection To See the Earth (Cleveland State University Press, 2008), but was especially pleased that during his performance at the Literary Cafe he didn’t just stick to his new book but shared a wide variety of work, including some experimental poetry that I found quite intriguing and effective. One was a collaborative piece that Geri, another guy named John and I helped Philip read. During another, based on a Russian poem by Lev Rubinstein, Philip let music and cue cards (in a bit of an homage to Bob Dylan) do most of the talking.
Here’s a video of Philip’s 9/11 performance (filmed by Literary Cafe proprietor Andy Timithy):
Of course the open mic session that followed Amy and Phil was awesome. But isn’t it always, at the Literary Cafe? I can’t remember what I ended up reading besides my Rapists, which seemed appropriate in the context of 9/11. Here are some photos (by me, except where otherwise noted):
Jesus Crisis [photo by Geri]
Emcee Nick Traenkner
Amy Bracken Sparks
Toledo’s Michael Grover
Steve Thomas (he’ll be a featured reader at the Literary Cafe on 13 November)
Lit Cafe neon art by Jeff Chiplis (please correct me if I’m wrong)
Loren Weiss (right) with two gentlemen whose names I don’t know
Toledo’s John Dorsey
C. Allen Rearick
Dorsey, Rearick (facing papers), Grover and more
Geri and her swan
Dianne Borsenik and Geri Burroughs
Jesus Crisis [photo by Anita Herczog – thanks!]
Find Amy Bracken Sparks at http://amybrackensparks.blogspot.com.
Find Philip Metres at www.philipmetres.com and http://behindthelinespoetry.blogspot.com.
Poems by Philip Metres in the Crisis Chronicles Online Library include The Ash Tree, Patronymic, Creation Story on Magnolia Drive, Cleveland; and The Idle Childless. I hope to eventually include some by Amy Bracken Sparks as well – I guess I’ve been a bit bashful about asking her.
I recommend these volumes for more poetry by Amy Bracken Sparks:
And I recommend these volumes for more by Philip Metres:
Please don’t forget to Imagine Peace!