Jesus Crisis at Mac’s Backs (14 January 2009) – photo by Dianne Borsenik
I wasn’t going to let anything prevent me from being present for my 2nd ever featured reading this past Wednesday – but the weather certainly tested that resolution.  The approximately 25-mile trek from our home in Elyria to Mac’s Backs bookstore in Cleveland Heights (the site of the reading) took us nearly two hours.  This is one time I was thankful for my wife’s SUV, because my little car probably would not have made it.  We stayed between 20 and 40 miles per hour the whole way down Interstate 90 (the speed limit is 60-65).  We passed several accidents along the way.  And traffic was at close to a complete standstill on Carnegie Avenue.  But we’d left quite early and were still able to make it to Mac’s with fifteen minutes to spare.  I didn’t expect too many other people to attend – but some brave souls surprised me.  Of course Mac’s Backs proprietor Suzanne DeGaetano was on hand.  So were friends Dianne Borsenik, Jen Pezzo, Vertigo Xi’an Xavier, and a few others.  We were especially happy to meet our online friend Sue Savickas for the first time in person there.

Jason Floyd Williams reads from Inheritance Tax – photo by Jesus Crisis
The other featured reader that night was Jason Floyd Williams, author of Inheritance Tax [Interior Noise Press].  He and I have been MySpace friends for a few months, and I’d heard a lot of good things about him and liked the little of his work I’d read and heard online.  But this was the first time we’d actually met and heard each other read in person.  We decided to go back and forth with our poems, a few at a time, and it ended up working out pretty well that way.  Our different styles and the way we were able to feed/bounce off of each others’ words and themes kept it interesting – and I was somewhat sad to see it end, although happy to experience the subsequent open mic, where Jen, Dianne, Suzanne, Peter Leon and a sign-language poet (whose name I wish I knew) shared a dynamic, interesting, inspiring mix of work.  Mac’s is always one of my favorite places for poetry readings, and Wednesday was another great experience, well worth braving the elements.  The place has so much history (30 years as a literary bastion in the Cleveland area) – and I was a combination of thrilled, proud and humbled to have the opportunity to be a featured poet where many legends have read before.  I’m a bit stunned that they’re going to sell my Bloggerel chapbook there as well!

Suzanne DeGaetano of Mac’s Backs – photo by Jesus Crisis
While I was at Mac’s Backs, I redeemed my gift certificate and picked up Russell Salamon’s Ascent from Cleveland: Wild Heart Steel Phoenix [Freedonia Press, 2008], a book I’d been longing to get my hands on since Steve Goldberg recommended it in a comment on my d.a.levy’s grave blog in September.  If I hadn’t been relatively short on cash (despite the generous souls who bought my Bloggerel there – and thereby paid for my gas!), I would have bought Jason Floyd Williams’ Inheritance Tax, too – but I’ll do that soon.  You can pick up a copy the next time you’re at Mac’s (or visit  Finally, here are a few more photos from Wednesday’s festivities:

Dianne Borsenik – photo by Jesus Crisis

The sign language poet and his interpreter – photo by Jesus Crisis

Suzanne Savickas – photo by Jesus Crisis

Peter Leon – photo by Jesus Crisis

Jesus Crisis – photo by Mrs. Crisis (Geri)

Dianne and Geri – photo by Jen Pezzo

Jason and his wife Trinity – photo by Jesus Crisis

Jen Pezzo, aka Kerowyn Rose – photo by Jesus Crisis

Vertigo Xi’an Xavier – photo by Jesus Crisis

Me, Geri (and Jason) ready to head home – photo by Sue Savickas.

Visit Mac’s Backs at 1802 Coventry Road in Cleveland Heights, Ohio.  They’re open from 10 to 9 on Monday thru Thursday, from 10 to 10 on Friday and Saturday, and from 11 to 8 on Sunday.  They hold poetry readings the 2nd Wednesday of every month at 7 p.m., a poetry workshop every 3rd Friday at 7 p.m., and a host of other cool artistic events on various other days.  February 11th, they will feature poet and actress Renee Matthews Jackson, who will be performing Women of Season (a poetic production with excerpts from the works of Ntozake Shange, Laini Mataka and other poets).  For more information, check out their website at or call them at 216-321-BOOK.