Friday, March 30, 2012

Before Settings are Changed

April is almost here and it means the writing/photography project with local infamy is almost here. April is also Autism Awareness Month. April is also National Poetry Month and to kick it off, as he has done for the past seven years, Scott Woods' will be doing his annual 24 hour reading.

You can see his schedule here. Its should also be streaming on the web this year. I usually hang for a couple hours in the beginning, show up to watch the sunrise and keep him awake, and witness the end. This year I have to work on Sunday so I'm not sure if I'm going to show up early. I admit to being nervous about the 7AM slot. Could be epic, could be he'll need help getting through.

Writers' Block had a qualifying slam for the National Poetry Slam this past Wednesday. I'll admit to being a bit burned out of slam. I had a long day at work and was burnt after yet another meeting at Kafe Kerouac for the Columbus Arts Festival. I was going to head home and call it a day. In the middle of the meeting, Scott got a phone call from another poet who was in a car accident. No one was hurt, but her car was totaled and she needed a ride to poetry. I volunteered to pick her up, which gave me some badly needed time to chill.

Ended up reading at the open mic, which had poets reading some very solid work, and provided the sacrificial poem for the slam. Read "Children in Cells", which is relevant to autism and the current health care debate in this country. Felt energized and witnessed one of the best slams I've seen in some time. Have to say I'm pumped for IWPS season now.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

This is what neglect looks like

Did a lot of driving around this afternoon finding places to photograph for my April Infamy in Columbus project. At times I was amused, others a bit sad and shocked to see what happened to places from the past twenty two years.

My friend Gregg and I have a running joke about places closing down a few weeks after we go there. For awhile today it was like that.

Then there's this place a couple of miles from my home. Such a waste.

In other news we're traveling east in late August. Headed to the ancestral home.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Watch for my special spring project

April is National Poetry Month and with the advent of blogs and social networking a lot of poets take on writing projects during this month. Many of them attempt to do what is known as a 30/30, thirty poems in thirty days. Then they go to open mics and say this is part of my 30/30 and more than half the audience has no idea what they're talking about because they're not poets.

I've done this in past years, to varying degrees of success. Two years ago I even went with a theme. Wrote thirty poems about autism, since April is also Autism Awareness Month. That was hard, you can go back and see!

Last year I did a musical theme. This year I'm going to give photography a go.

I've lived in Columbus for twenty two years and I'm going to look back on my time here and document some of the infamous places I've been in this city. Homes and haunts, workplaces, scenes of public humiliation and embarrassment along with captures of triumph. A bit of description will accompany each picture. Some of the pictures will be old, some scanned, some in a then and now theme. I thought up a bunch of places and exceeded thirty with little problem. My wife even came up with a few places I forgot about.

This project is on, starting on April first.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Is it the weather or am I going mad?

Had a couple of disturbing dreams recently. A loved one came into the house, seems this person was shot in the forehead while mowing the lawn. It was not a large caliber bullet as their head was not blown off but a small weapon with a small, noticeable hole. No exit wound so it was suggested to go to the hospital to have the bullet removed. For some reason we went separately with the injured party going to Children's Hospital, which is odd because the victim is no longer a child and Mount Carmel West is closer.

The other dream involved me euthanizing a cat I once had in the bathtub, and that's about all I want to say except it really creeped me out.

Who knows what is going on in my head to produce these nightmares. The weather here has been freakishly warm. Thirty degrees warmer than normal. My rose bush is starting to bud six weeks ahead of schedule. The lawn is going to need mowing this weekend. I'll do that, and hope I do not get shot.

Been thinking about poetry slam recently and its effect on poets. Slam can kill you as quickly as it can resurrect. It can create heroes as easily as monsters. I do not know what I'm witnessing in slams these days. It's not supposed to be pretty but the joy has lessened for me and it's already making me lean cynically, not even five years into the game. All I can do is be me out there, and I'm perfectly ok with that. And by me I mean a writer with little self confidence who is not afraid to take risks. That is, when I infrequently write something that is a risk. So do I take a risk and write about these messed up dreams? I questioned putting them here for crying out loud!

Slam and poetry are different beasts that can interact. Sometimes they do not play nice.

A lot can happen in four years, just ask Florence Welch. This was one of the first videos I saw of her performing.

Said then that she was going to be indie big. Looks like that happened for her. All I'm doing it writing about that, and not very well.

In better news, while he's still in serious condition and intensive care, Fabrice Muamba is communicating and appears to be on the road to a long recovery.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Nature's Way

Bolton's midfielder Fabrice Muamba remains in critical condition after having a heart attack on Saturday. The soccer world is coming together in support, it's good to see.

In another soccer tragedy over the weekend, after upsetting Celtic in the Scottish League Cup for its first Cup in team history, the Kilmarnock team was celebrating until realizing the father of midfielder Liam Kelly was being treated near the players bench at Hampden. Jack Kelly died of a heart attack, aged 59. Can't imagine what the Kelly family is going though. A massive high then low, and on the UK's Mothers Day.

I missed the match because I wanted to get out of town. Took my wife on an adventure to Hocking Hills State Park. It had been years since I'd been down there.

A lot of fun to slip and slide on the rocks. My wife did not like the tunnels. Very peaceful, and not as crowded as I thought it would be.

We took a nap when we got home. When we woke up, I thought I heard tornado sirens. Turned on the TV and all Hell was breaking loose. It was calm where were were, but up north it was looking a little ominous.

Funnel clouds were spotted, but I do not think there was any serious damage anywhere. A lot of rain, a bit of wind. Looked spooky though.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Master at Going Faster

After watching Everton play Sunderland to a draw in yesterday morning's FA Cup match I had not counted on watching any more soccer. I was online when the name Fabrice Muamba started trending on Twitter. I admit now not knowing who he was, but I saw that he was a Bolton midfielder, and that he collapsed on the pitch during the match against Tottenham. No one was near him when it happened.

I put Talksport on and listened to the commentary. The announcers were very subdued, emotional and very real in their descriptions of the scenes at White Hart Lane. The match was, rightly, cancelled. The players were gutted. Muamba had CPR administered on the field, the defibrillator was used to get his heart started. Sadly, players have died during matches. I was in Scotland when Phil O'Donnel of Motherwell died. As of now, Muamba remains in critical condition. Hoping the young man can recover.

It was with an odd irony that we had a library copy of Senna to watch. My knowledge of Formula One racing is next to nil, but this film was not really about racing. It was about the life of a man who died before he could fulfill what he wanted to do. I was very impressed with the amount of archival footage, home movies and interviews the film makers found to assemble one of the better documentaries I've seen in years. The film moved like a live action drama at times.

Had no idea Formula One was so dramatic, and not the activity on the track. It was very similar to slam, with all the driving divas, drama and villainry happening. You knew what was going to happen though, and that it would be the worst thing, and it was. What a story though, and what a life.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Note to self: Rehearse

Actually remembered a dream from last night, a woman I know only through Facebook was running for some sort of elected city office here in Columbus. That is odd in itself because said person does not live in Columbus, nor, to my knowledge, is she a U.S. citizen. She was miffed that she lost and that she did not have much support from women in her district. I tried to commiserate by saying that if she ran for office in the district just south of her there were plenty of women I could have recommended for her to get some help from.

As usual, I do not know what this means but it may be some subconscious spill over from the past Women of the World poetry slam conversations that have been happening. A couple of epic threads about coaching and safety were posted. There have been some interesting points raised. The points matter, if you get them I guess.

Last night Writers’ Block had another qualifying slam for the National Poetry Slam team. Since I can’t go I’m not competing but I offered to be the sacrificial poet last night. The poet who reads to calibrate the judges, then goes off into the night to heckle.

The poem I read needs a lot more editing, but I still gave it shot. It’s a poem I wrote about living in Columbus that other poets have also done, to varying success. Stumbled in a couple of places I should not have, made light of it while stumbling. Not a great moment and it got the 25.8 it deserved. Could have done better, knew it, and moved on.

At the end of the night a man came up to me, thanked me for the poem and asked for a copy of it. You never know, even after what you may think is a mediocre performance your words do have an effect on people. That is a good thing to take after an evening.

Sunday, March 11, 2012


My wife and are are both on the mend from what is being called the Great Poet Flu of 2012. We're thinking Scott Woods is Case Zero, as he was ill for some time. Was he recovered enough at Poet Picture Day last Sunday???

Right after that three people, at least three people who were on the library steps last Sunday became violently ill. Teri, Paula, and my wife.

On Monday night my wife caught the bug. It was not pretty. She was out of commission on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Thursday morning I woke up with a headache and became light headed. Called off work, called my ex to ask if she's put our son on the bus because I did not want him to catch anything, and went back to bed. It got worse after I woke up around noon. I did not eat anything and only had water and a couple of glasses of ginger ale for about thirty six hours. Took Friday off work and found I could eat, a little bit.

While all of this is going on, Scott Woods is in his world of Schadenfreude, clicking "Like" on status updates in which I mention my illness. He posted comments of nothing but laughter and went as far as suggesting that, if Facebook let him, he would type his gleeful comments in a larger font. I guess he did not have a seven year old to beat in chess that afternoon. Such is life when you have a nemesis.

Improved even more over the weekend, a weekend I have my son so I'm worried about him catching this, whatever it is.

He's been good. Very into his own business of jumping on his bed and having adventures in his room with Bob the Cucumber and Larry the Tomato. He even closed the door to his room.

Downstairs, he rediscovered his books and pulled them off the shelf in a flourish last night. A few minutes ago he did some organizing on the floor.

There's also a line of five more books at a ninety degree angle, but I do not want to include the ugly living room chair in the photo. Now, with the time change, he has energy at new times. Daylight savings time messes with him, he pounced out of bed right after I put him there. He's not happy.

While grocery shopping today we came across the closeout cart that Kroger puts out from time to time. Most of the time we look, and move on. Today though they had a box of what was depicted on the box as wine glasses.

In my world wine glasses have stems. So you can swirl the wine in the glass. So you do not get finger prints on the glass while looking at the color. So you do not warm up a white wine with your hand any faster.

Now I understand the reasoning for a stemless glass. A friend in the biz said it was great if you're outside on a windy day and I get that. Sure, it eases breakage in restaurants but if I am paying eight bucks for a glass of wine there had better be a glass with a stem!

Anyway, the glasses (set of four) were marked down to three bucks so we bought them. I'm just going to say they're for juice.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Best Part of Breaking Up is when You're Making Up

A honest effort can turn my cynical eye into genuine admiration and forgiveness of an artist. Such is the case with Bruce Springsteen's "Wrecking Ball."

Three years ago I broke up with him. I thought he and I were on two different planets and we'd never see each other in orbit again. I wished him well.

I'm not sure exactly what it is about this new record that made me get out the large plate of crow. I think it's hearing the anger in his words, an anger that is not forced, an anger that is not being constructed to blueprints. Springsteen has been on the campaign trail for Kerry and Obama and he does not like what he has seen. It's taken him three years to write about his rage, about the theft of America from the robber barons. He's spitting out the chorus of "We Take Care of our Own" as a lie from the leaders. It's not happening. He's issuing a challenge. Laying his flag down.

The production is a different step for him, he's using drum loops, a full horn section and has been heavily influenced by Irish folk music. He's taken his Seeger sessions work to a different level, added some gospel and it hits the mark more than it fails. It's his best record in years.

There are a few vague moments. "Jack of All Trades" a dirge about a couple trying to make ends meet goes on a bit too long and meanders. And the narrator could not afford to see Springsteen live at this point, not with the prices he's charging to see his shows. Yes, I know it's a great expense, moving all these people across the world, but still...

In the middle of the despair of the stomping and fierce "Death to My Hometown" there are moments of remembrance and joy. In the remade "Land of Hope and Dreams" comes Clarence Clemons' last sax solo. It made me gasp at first listen. There is an orchestra of stringed instruments on this song - mandolins, banjos, all kinds of guitars. Damn, that opening saxophone note put this record into the double plus column.

"Rocky Ground", the second single (if there's such a thing as a single anymore) is the heaviest gospel influenced song on the album that builds into a full on rap by Michelle Moore. I do acknowledge that Springsteen is trying to experiment with new approaches, and not throwing anything to the wall just to see if it will stick.

Wrecking Ball closes with a song of survival, "We Are Alive" is described as a campfire song, with strummed acoustic guitars, hollered lyrics and mariachi horns it describes the losses of fighters for justice while offering more hope for the listener, letting us know that hard times come and hard times go.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

An view of Scottish Football from Ohio

The problems of FC Rangers are making very big news in Europe. My take may not be perfect but here's what I gleaned: the team was sold a couple of years ago and the new owner paid for the team with future revenue. He also promised to put some of his own money into the franchise, which did not seem to happen. There was also a problem of him not paying tax, something the British government does not like. Today the team released a couple of players, more staff and players are expected to be fired.

Last month, the team went into administration, which is essentially bankruptcy. By rule the team was docked ten points by the Scottish Premier League which gave the title, barring massive collapse, to Celtic FC.

If you do not know, the rivalry between Celtic and Rangers, also known as The Old Firm, is one of the fiercest in world sports. I explain it to people here by imagining Ohio State and Michigan football being in the same city, and adding sectarianism.

I'm not qualified to get into the politics behind the Old Firm rivalry. It's been going on for generations. I will be honest and say I chose to support Celtic from thousands of miles away because they never had a policy of firing their employees for simply befriending a Catholic.

The violence, the IRA chanting, not my scene. It was an odd, unsettling experience to walk into an Erin Go Bragh march when headed to Tollcross Park. Not one I wish to repeat.

Back to the teams. I have no idea what is going to happen to Rangers FC. My hope is that a responsible buyer is found who can make the team a fiscal success. Back when the Cleveland Browns were moved to Baltimore it annoyed me, not because I liked the Browns, far from it. They were the hated Cleveland Browns, and you want to beat the teams you despise on the field of play, not due to an accounting farce.

The problems of the Scottish Premier League are numerous, other teams are not in sound financial order. Gretna folded in 2008, Hearts are having problem meeting payroll. There's not much broadcast money coming in and that money is contingent on Old Firm matches happening. As much as others have said the Old Firm does not matter, from my seat on an Ohio couch it sure does. As much as I dislike a two teams at the top league with everyone else fighting for scraps, the SPL needs the Old Firm. Without them a downward spiral would quicken instead of cease.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Good thing I do not have Super-8

While looking at yesterday's pictures and other people's pictures of yesterday's picture taking I got the energy up to put together a slideshow.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

A Snowy Day in Columbus

A few hours ago over fifty Columbus poets gathered on the steps on the Main Library for a family portrait. It was done in the spirit of A Great Day in Harlem.

Poets gathered in the lobby, generations of local poets who have been on the scene for years to kids and others just starting out. It was a remarkable mix of people that shows the diversity of the scene. It is a scene I am proud and humbled to be a part of.

We were called to get outside and get ready for our picture. It was chilly outside. The one day of cold in a mild winter. Just as we cats were herded onto the steps for the official portrait, it began to snow, heavily. But us Snoets prevailed.

I chose to take the pictures in black and white to pay tribute to the Harlem photo and thank my wife for taking the pictures when the snow started to fly. They look like a presidential inauguration or something.

I did not tag anyone or caption, this is who Columbus is when it comes to poetry. Feel free to share the link or pictures. Remember when they came from.

Finally all of this came together because of the efforts of Scott Woods. Much thanks and praise to him for getting us all together for this impressive event.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

How to send off Black History Month

Writers' Block last night was a mix of navel gazing, marinating, and life affirming poetry. It also included this little ditty. Be sure to wait for the presentation at the end.

Could not wedge in a few chords of Daydream Believer, sadly there was no sing along.

The song was a cover, I could never write something that good. Here's the original by the great Tom Lehrer.

The next Leap Day on a Wednesday will be in 2040. Book the date.