Monday, July 18, 2016

Join OPA in Baking Up Some Poetry

Feeling hungry for inspiration and freshly baked bread? The Ohio Poetry Association is teaming up with the Glass Rooster Cannery in Sunbury, Ohio, for a unique cook-and-write workshop. Space is limited, but any are welcome! In this late summer activity, you will join a group to personally make (and later lunch on) homemade bread. These sensory experiences will influence a bit of freewriting, followed by a reading of the group's poems.

Art and antiques barn at Glass Rooster Cannery.
To further elaborate on this event, we've posed a few questions to Terry Hermsen, editor of O Taste and See and English professor at Otterbein University, and Robin Mullet, OPA member who writes the Muse Clues column for the newsletter and is organizer of the event.

1. Robin, what prompted this workshop to combine food and poetry?
   “Our president, Chuck Salmons, had brought up the idea at an OPA meeting, mentioning that Terry Hermsen and David Lee Garrison had edited and published a food-inspired anthology. I love food poems and those two poets, so I volunteered to organize it.”

2. Terry, how do you believe cooking influences the written word?
   “It's funny how two such seemingly different things as cooking and poetry can actually be so closely connected. But the word 'poet' actually goes back to the word 'maker'. To be a poet means to stir up some ingredients and see how those textures, spices, and substances merge. There are recipes, of course, but it's the invested soul of the writer that makes the meal.”

3. Robin, what do you hope to see happening at this event?
   “First and foremost, I hope people get inspired to write poetry, and secondly, I hope they have fun! I think the hands-on experience of bread making will heighten all of our senses and give our muse a jump start. And the grounds at Glass Rooster Cannery are really lovely.”

4. Robin, what could a newcomer expect from a poetry workshop?
   “If you are new to poetry workshops, you will discover how poets share and care about each other’s work. But you are never forced to share if you don’t wish, so don’t be afraid. I always take something helpful from a workshop even if I don’t write a single decent line that day. Also, poets are some of the most fun people I’ve ever met and we love to eat!”

5. Terry, you were an editor of O Taste and See – Food Poems. Could you recommend any other sources of food-inspired poetry?
   “As for other anthologies, I've only seen a few. But the more recent The Hungry Ear, edited in 2014 by Kevin Young, looks rather fine to me. It includes some of the same poems as the now-out-of-print O Taste and See, and is organized in much the same way with poems gathered around such topics as 'Spices' and 'Meat and Potatoes' and even 'Souplines'. Our anthology was so much fun to put together, but one could go out and create one's own. Food connects to family, history, politics, culture... and to our own individual sense of taste and memory. Who would've thought?”

For info on registration and directions, please visit the OPA website Events page here. The sign up deadline is August 1.

Thanks to the Glass Rooster Cannery for providing this delightful place in which to create. We hope you'll join us to bake up some poetry!

by Logan Morales
OPA Intern

Monday, July 4, 2016

Don’t miss the Annual OPA All-Star Picnic on Saturday, July 9, 2016

 Share your ideas with people of like-mind and get motivated by their encouragements and experiences.Israelmore Ayivor, Shaping the Dream

This year’s July OPA Quarterly Business Meeting and All-Star Picnic will be held at the beautiful Jeffrey Park, Memorial Shelter located at 165 N. Parkview Ave., Bexley, Ohio 43209
The park is a 40-acre recreation area on the east side of Columbus, complete will all the amenities—hiking trails, playground for children, kayak and canoe ramp, tennis courts, and restroom facilities—the perfect setting for this year’s annual outdoor poetry event. The picnic is open to OPA members and their friends and family, or anyone who is looking for a great afternoon of potluck and poetry. It’s that time of the year when in the beautiful out-of-doors, we can share our ideas and words with people of like-mind and get motivated.

An original watercolor painting by Deb Grenert will be raffled.
The program promises to be wonderful: Ohio poets communing with fellow poets in a casual setting, featured readers, contest winners, and special guests. There will be raffles—including the grand prize of the original watercolor painting by Deb Grenert, used as the cover of the 2013 issue of Common Threads. And of course, we’ll have an open-mic where members and guests will be invited to share a poem of their own. As usual, the event is a potluck, so bring your favorite dish to share. Also bring a beverage. Paper plates, napkins, cutlery, and cups will be provided.

Featured All-Star Readers

Our featured poets will include Darren C. Demaree and Sharon Fish Mooney who will be reading from their recently published books. 

Darren C. Demaree
Darren C. Demaree is the author of five poetry collections, most recently The Nineteen Steps Between Us (After the Pause, 2016). He is the Managing Editor of the Best of the NetAnthology. Currently, he is living in Columbus, Ohio, with his wife and children.

Members may recognize the name of Sharon Fish Mooney, who is the chairwoman of the OPA high school poetry contests. Sharon will read from her new book, Bending Toward Heaven – Poems After the Art of Vincent van Gogh (Wipf and Stock/Resource Publications, 2015). Sharon won the inaugural Frost Farm Prize for metrical poetry. She also is currently editing an ekphrastic anthology of poems by Ohio poets on art in Ohio for the Ohio Poetry Association. She teaches research online for Regis University and Indiana Wesleyan and lives in Scio, Ohio.
Sharon Fish Mooney

Other poets featured will be the Ides of March Contest winner, Benjamin Dugger, and winning student poets from this year’s OPA High School Contests. We hope to see you all there next Saturday. 


There is parking and access to the Memorial Shelter by using the Clifton Avenue entrance, just west of Parkview Avenue. You can also park in the Jeffrey Mansion parking lot off Parkview Avenue and then walk down to the park behind the mansion.

© 2016 Ohio Poetry Association

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Columbus Foundation Grant Funding Continues for OPA

The OPA team is excited to report that for a fifth consecutive year, OPA has been awarded a grant from The Columbus Foundation (TCF) through its Community Arts Fund. This year’s award totals $1,826, which exceeds expectations by the OPA officers.

"Once again The Columbus Foundations has acknowledged the value of OPA to poets and artists throughout Ohio," said OPA President Chuck Salmons. "The Community Arts Fund has provided OPA with sustaining funds to help cover administrative costs so that our members’ annual dues and other revenue sources can be directed into workshops, readings, and other great opportunities."

The OPA first established a profile with TCF in 2010. The profile, part of the TCF PowerPhilanthropy program, is an effort to improve OPA’s ability to secure funding via charitable giving.

Since that time, the OPA officers have steadfastly sought other avenues of fundraising. Those interested in donating to OPA may do so via the TCF PowerPhilanthropy program website at Simply click the "Search PowerPhilanthropy" link and search "Ohio Poetry Association" to donate.

The OPA team is looking for volunteers to assist or even lead fundraising efforts. If you’d like to help out, email

The Ohio Poetry Association gratefully acknowledges The Columbus Foundation for its continued support.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Reflections on NFSPS Convention 2016

by Chuck Salmons, President, Ohio Poetry Association

It’s been a few days since I returned from beautiful Minneapolis and the 2016 NFSPS Convention. First,

Crescent moon and geese above lake at
Oak Ridge Hotel & Conference Center
many congratulations to the officers and members of the League of Minnesota Poets (LOMP) who volunteered their time to put on a terrific event. This year’s convention was held on the site of the Oak Ridge Hotel & Conference Center which features a fascinating building design and quiet, relaxing grounds that include a small lake with a 1.5 mile trail. I enjoyed both hikes and jogs around the lake on several days to take a break from the convention and get some fresh air.

The convention was full of activities to stimulate poets and artists alike. Opening day was highlighted by an optional tour of a local craft brewery, Excelsior Brewing, where participants got to sample some flavorful brews along with some tasty poetry. Later that evening, the dinner featured a delicious barbecue with a poetry and music show titled, “LAYERS.” 

From there, the LOMP coordinators treated attendees to a number of workshops during the weekend, as well as panel discussions, and a couple of keynote speakers. The headliner was writer and artist Natalie Goldberg, who is best known for her book, Writing Down the Bones. I found Goldberg to be an engaging and very pleasant speaker who charmed the audience during Sunday evening’s dinner, which was also highlighted with a slide show featuring images of some of her artistic works.

 Chuck Salmons with fellow state presidents
 Marilyn Baszczynski, Iowa Poetry Association (center),
and Peter Stein, League of Minnesota Poets (right)
Among the other featured poets was Phil Bryant, professor at Gustavus Adolphus College. For me, his poetry stole the show as he read from his latest collection, The Grand Terrace: A Jazz Memoir in Verse. Also giving a fascinating multimedia reading was Moheb Soliman, who recited his poems—written during his explorations of the Great Lakes region—while simultaneously projecting numerous images using an aging overhead projector. His work demonstrated how poetry and memories often blend to contort actual events. 

On the final day of the convention, I participated in a strategic planning meeting with NFSPS board members, chairpersons, and other state society presidents. Crucial discussions were held regarding the future of the organization and how it must adapt to modern technologies and expectations of its members in order to secure its development in the coming years. Much like OPA a few years back, it is an organization that 

Natalie Goldberg talks
with OPA member Amy Zook
after a panel discussion
needs to reinvent itself in many ways.

But perhaps the most important experiences for me were the new friendships I developed during the 4½-day event. Most of my evenings were spent in the company of poets from all across the U.S., but especially Minnesota, as we gathered for drinks, conversation, and sharing our poems. More importantly, we shared the parts of ourselves that we value most in others—our individual and shared histories as husbands, wives, and poets.

This is just my second convention; however, it is the first at which I built so many new friendships. And for that, I am most thankful. I appreciate the opportunity to represent OPA members and Ohio poets-at-large. 

I cannot encourage you enough to consider attending next year’s convention, which will be held in Fort Worth, Texas. As we know, Texans do things big. So, that event too is sure to offer great food and fantastic poetry.