Thursday, July 16, 2015

The 2015 Annual Ohio Poetry Association Picnic Raffle

Here's another reason to come to the picnic and stay for afternoon: following the readings and open mic, there will be a raffle for lots of super items. Check it out!


           -       OPA memberships
            -      Poetry books galore including anthologies and 
              Common Threads issues 
     


And, the grand prize…


A framed watercolor painting by the wonderfully talented Wooster artist, Deb Grenert. You will recall that Grenert did the paintings used for the anthology cover and the past two Common Threads covers.This painting has not yet been used as a cover image. A special thanks goes to OPA member Sandy Feen who provided the framing. 

The Ohio Poetry Association annual picnic will be held on Saturday, July 18, from noon to 3 pm, at Jeffrey Park, Memorial Shelter, 1965 N. Parkview Ave., Bexley, Ohio 43209.

© The Ohio Poetry Association, 2015

Featured Poets at the 2015 Ohio Poetry Association Picnic and Business Meeting – Part 3

The Ohio Poetry Association annual picnic will be held on Saturday, July 18, at Jeffrey Park, Memorial Shelter, 1965 N. Parkview Ave., Bexley, Ohio 43209. A short business meeting will be conducted from 10:30 am - 11:30 am. The carry-in style picnic will be from noon until 3. At 1 pm, poets Kerry Jensen Trautman, Steve Brightman, and Wendy McVicker, as well as Student Voices winners and other special guests, will read poetry. There is an open mic too, so bring a poem or two to share.

You won’t want to miss the fellowship with other Ohio poets and the wonderful readings by featured poets. We’ve asked each of them to answer some questions about their poetry so we could get to know them better. We’ve already shared responses provided by Kerry Jensen Trautman and Steve Brightman. In this post, we get a small glimpse into the poetry life of Wendy McVicker.  


Do you draw inspiration from other poetry? If so, whose and why?

Poets who inspire me include William Stafford, for his plain language that expresses great depth, and for his ideas on writing and teaching; Frank O’Hara, for his playfulness; Sharon Olds, for her courage and ability to shine light in dark places; Anne Carson, for her wide–ranging lyricism and attention to silence; lately, a local (Columbus) voice, Hannah Stephenson, for eloquence and imagination. I’m always discovering new loves!


What three words best describe your own poetry? 

lyrical; spare; mystery


Do you have a writing routine? If so, describe it briefly.

Writing routine: Any time of the day or night, read, draw, stare out the window, listen, and keep the notebook open … I often pick up poetry or look at art before I write; this helps my mind move to that place where poetry happens, away from organizing, opinionating, and evaluating; a dreamier, more freewheeling place where I can surprise myself.


Aside from poetry, what do you like to read?

What do I read besides poetry: I am a fiction junkie!


What other activities do you enjoy (e.g., art, cooking, music) that may/may not influence your writing?

Other things I like to do: I love to move! Walking, dancing, yoga, karate: all of these feed the muse, one way or another.

***

Wendy McVicker is a Teaching Artist and Literature Field Consultant for the Ohio Arts Council's Arts Learning program, and loves to stir up poetry with people of all ages whenever and wherever she can. This has included residencies in schools, libraries, arts centers, and hospitals. Her poetry has appeared in online and in print, and in the anthologies Red Thread, Gold Thread (ed. Alan Cohen) and A Ritual to Read Together: Poems in Conversation with William Stafford (ed. Becca J.R. Lachman). Many of the poems in The Dancer’s Notes came from phrases handed to McVicker by a dancer during a performance at Ohio University in the mid–1990s, and others from watching, or collaborating with, dancers and musicians. She performs with instrumentalist Emily Prince as the duo another language altogether, often in collaboration with dancers and other musicians. When not involved in poetry and the performing arts, McVicker is teaching karate, which she has studied for over 20 years. She lives in Athens, Ohio, and her family includes one husband, two sons, and a Hemingway cat named Dora.

© The Ohio Poetry Association, 2015





Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Featured Poets at the 2015 Ohio Poetry Association Picnic and Business Meeting – Part 2

Last week, we shared responses provided by Kerry Jensen Trautman, one of the three featured poets who will be reading at the 2015 Ohio Poetry Association Picnic, to our five questions about the writing process. This week, we’re sharing responses from poet, Steve Brightman. 


Steve Brightman

Do you draw inspiration from other poetry? If so, whose and why?

I draw inspiration from whatever is willing to offer its vein(s) to me: poetry, the weather, baseball, people I know, people I don't know, historical personae, the trees (my family's and the ones outside my window), words, numbers...

What three words best describe your own poetry? 

taut, accessible, concrete

Do you have a writing routine? If so, describe it briefly.

I do have a routine. I write every day. literally. Last week was the 2000th day in a row I've written a poem. Not all of them are good or deserve to see the light of day, necessarily, but they're poems. And they are strung together consecutively on Facebook. my routine is fairly simple. I sit down (usually in the dark) and unspool all the images/thoughts/noteworthy moments from that day in front of me (figuratively). I sift through those, frame the one I like most, and find a well-lit spot for it.

Aside from poetry, what do you like to read?

fiction. Colum McCann is big favorite of mine right now. I'm reintroducing myself to Margaret Atwood, too. I'm also partial to spending too much time reading garbage on the internet.  Oh, and Entertainment Weekly and my bills and baseball cards...


What other activities do you enjoy (e.g., art, cooking, music) that may/may not influence your writing?

driving, watching baseball, people-watching, listening


***

Steve Brightman lives in Akron, Ohio. He firmly believes in two seasons: winter and baseball. His first full length collection The Wild Gospel of Careening and Other Sermons from the Rumble Strip was recently released by Red Orchid Publishing. His chapbook History, Too, Is a Simple Machine will be unleashed upon the public in 2015 by NightBallet Press.

                                                                ~

Remember, the picnic be held at, Jeffrey Park, Memorial Shelter, 1965 N. Parkview Ave., Bexley, Ohio 43209. A short business meeting will be conducted from 10:30 - 11:30 am. The carry-in style picnic will be from noon until 3:45. At 1 pm, poets Kerry Jensen Trautman, Steve Brightman, and Wendy McVicker, as well as Student Voices winners and other special guests, will read poetry. There is an open mic too, so bring a poem or two to share.



Thursday, July 2, 2015

Featured poets at the 2015 OPA Picnic and Business Meeting

The annual picnic is a favorite OPA event. Poets from all over the state gather in one of Ohio's beautiful parks for food, fellowship, and poetry. It's like a family reunion where every member of your family cares about poetry as much as you do. This year's event promises to once again deliver that spirit of camaraderie along with great poetry.

It will be held at, Jeffrey Park, Memorial Shelter, 1965 N. Parkview Ave., Bexley, Ohio 43209. A short business meeting will be conducted from 10:30 - 11:30 am. The carry-in style picnic will be from noon until 3:45. At 1 pm, poets Kerry Jensen Trautman, Steve Brightman, and Wendy McVicker, as well as Student Voices winners and other special guests, will read poetry. There is an open mic too, so bring a poem or two to share.

As a lead up, we have asked each of the three featured poets to answer some questions about their poetry. We'll share their individual responses each week before the event.

Kerry Jensen Trautman


*photo by Adrian Lime
Do you draw inspiration from other poetry? If so, whose and why?  

The first poet I felt a real connectedness to Edna St. Vincent Millay. My high school American Lit teacher was a fan, and I memorized two of her poems to recite for an assignment. I remember having this sense that I could embody her words, that it made sense for her words to come from me in a way not other poetry had up til then. Linda Pastan is another influence. Both poets wrote from an unabashedly female perspective. Pastan writes about motherhood in a way I hadn't yet encountered, and I was a young mother at the time I found her work. It was validating to hear a woman writing through marriage and motherhood--finding the time and inspiration.

What three words best describe your own poetry?  

I hope: genuine, attentive, unpretentious. 

Do you have a writing routine? If so, describe it briefly. 

For a years I woke at dawn to write before the kids awoke and I had to begin my stay-at-home-mom-ness. It was a lovely to have coffee and the dark house all to myself. Eventually, though, the kids started waking earlier, and I find it hard to write with them all stirring around. I think I need a sense of privacy, of isolation, though I can write in public place with no problem. So now the work is piecemeal, with notebooks and scraps of paper in my purse, bedroom, coffee table and car. I'm always jotting notes as lines and ideas come, and I get them polished into real poems whenever I find time. 


Aside from poetry, what do you like to read? 

I wish I had more time to read. I get two daily newspapers, Poets & Writers Magazine, and Entertainment Weekly. I read some fiction, usually short stories, because they're easier to read in a quick gulp. I always have a stack of lit journals/zines which are my go-to for free afternoons, doctors waiting-rooms and airplanes.

What other activities do you enjoy (e.g., art, cooking, music) that may/may not influence your writing? 

I love movies and tv, and I enjoy baking/cooking, especially for friends. I fit in yardwork when I can, and I love wandering art fairs, and antique stores. All those things find their way into my writing.

***

Ohio born and raised, Kerry is a founding member of Toledo's Almeda St. Poets, and the Toledo Poetry Museum.  She is often seen at local poetry readings and events such as Artomatic 4-1-9, 100-Thousand Poets for Change, Back to Jack, and the Columbus Arts Festival. Kerry's poetry and short fiction have appeared in various journals, including Midwestern Gothic, Alimentum, The American Journal of Nursing, The Fourth River, Mock Turtle Zine, and Third Wednesday; as well as in anthologies such as, Tuesday Night at Sam and Andy’s Uptown Café (Westron Press, 2001), Mourning Sickness (Omniarts, 2008), Roll (Telling Our Stories Press, 2012), and Journey to Crone (Chuffed Buff Books, 2013).  Her most recent poetry chapbook is To Have Hoped from Finishing Line Press, 2015.




Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Robert Miltner shares his Desert Island Books

If you missed the latest OPA Writers' Retreat at Malabar Farm, then you missed the dynamic and engaging presence of poet Robert Miltner. Many thanks to Dr. Miltner for leading a fantastic workshop that focused on prose poetry, a form that (it's pretty safe to say) he knows something about. His prompts during sessions this past weekend led to the attendees drafting some amazing poems, some of which we hope to see in print soon--there were some really powerful pieces.

As a follow-up to the retreat, we asked Miltner to share a list of the ten books--poetry or otherwise--that he would want with him if ever stranded on a desert island. Below is the eclectic list of books, a collection as diverse as Miltner's own abilities as a writer.


"One: The Complete Plays of William Shakespeare. No single author has ever had an impact on the English language like Shakespeare did.    

"Two: The Collected Stories of Raymond Carver. Carver was a master storyteller, and his characters feel like real people who struggle with contemporary problems: paying the bills, responding to disappointments, and chasing impossible dreams in ways that define their lives.

"Three: Road Atlas: Prose and Other Poems by Campbell McGrath. A hodge-podge of poems and prose poems by a poet with just about the finest ear for the American vernacular; smart and witty poems by a vastly talented writer.

"Four: In Watermelon Sugar by Richard Brautigan. The quintessential post-apocalyptic hippy novel of the 1960s. A visionary, playful, clever, joyous and heartbreaking novel written in flash chapters.

"Five: Brutal Imagination. Cornelius Eady’s story of Susan Smith’s drowning of her children becomes more horrifying and heartbreaking as Eady explores the effects of scapegoating an imagined black perpetrator; a profound study of racism.

"Six: Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris. A stunningly funny collection of nonfiction essays by one of America’s finest humorists and cultural commentators; it’s hard to see holidays the same way after reading this book.

"Seven: Franny and Zooey by J. D. Salinger. The finest post-coming-of-age book written. Franny quits college because nobody discusses wisdom, and Zooey explores how everyone plays to an imaginary audience. 

"Eight: Dancer by Colum McCann. The author’s prose dances across the pages the ways it’s protagonist, Rudolf Nureyev, danced across the stage; an exhilarating historical novel by a master writer.

"Nine: Immortality by Milan Kundera.  Franco-Czech writer Kundera’s humorous and thought-provoking novel takes up the question of how we live to be remembered, questioning what we lose from our lives by living for the afterlife.

"Ten: Watership Down by Richard Adams. Written in the tradition of the Old World beast fable, Adams writes an inspiring story of a band of rabbits seeking to establish a utopian society; the interweaving of rabbit myth with the struggle to survive makes for a timeless story."

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Support OPA during The Big Give 2015

The Big Give is back! Sponsored by The Columbus Foundation (TCF), The Big Give is a 24-hour opportunity to support your favorite non-profit organizations. And OPA is asking you to help us continue our efforts to support poets and the art of poetry across the state.

This year’s event is bigger than ever with a pool of matching funds totaling more than $1.3 million. And unlike years past, all credit card fees are covered by TCF, which means 100% of donated funds will go to OPA.

Thanks to the two previous The Big Give events and OPA supporter, we’ve been able to use money raised to improve programming and events and produce special publications. As our members know, OPA is managed entirely by volunteers and has no paid staff. So, all donations go into things such as readings, anthologies, contests, and workshops, including our ekphrastic series.

The process is easy, but lasts only for a day:
  • Beginning at 10 AM on Tuesday, May 12, visit the TCF website at columbusfoundation.org.
  • Click on “The Big Give” banner.
  • Use your credit card to make a donation to Ohio Poetry Association. (Minimum donations begin at $20.) 
  • Donations can be made up until 10 AM on Wednesday, May 13.
TCF will post preliminary results of The Big Give on Thursday, May 14, and OPA will receive its donations in late June.

We are very grateful to the donors and the staff at The Columbus Foundation for their continued support of Ohio Poetry Association. And thanks to all of you who plan to donate during this year’s The Big Give event!

Sincerely,

Chuck Salmons
President, OPA

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

An Interview with Poet, Dionne Custer Edwards

by Mackenzie Boyer



Dionne Custer Edwards, photo credit - Tim Johnson
On Saturday, April 11, Dionne Custer Edwards will conduct a workshop on the Otterbein University campus in Westerville, Ohio, and hosted by Ohio Poetry Association (OPA). Here’s a description of the upcoming event from Dionne herself:

"We will work with words on and off the page by working through the writing process with our five senses—focusing very much on sound as it pertains to writing, reading, or performing a poem. My hope is that we all leave with something we write, revise through workshop, and share using strategies and techniques that evoke the five senses on and off the page. We will engage with the entire writing process. The goal is to focus on how to get those words out of our journals, off our laptops, and out into the public space (if we want them there)."

Continue reading to learn more about Dionne and her life as a writer and an educator. Then on Saturday, come to the workshop to support Ohio Poetry Association and hear Dionne speak about ‘Writing in Open Space: On (and Off) the Page.’

Question: Since you studied music composition alongside English, I was curious as to why you chose to continue studying this and how exactly it affected your writing in positive ways?

Dionne: Music composition was only one portion of my music studies. I actually studied music theory and piano from the age of four years old, flute from the age of eight, and had a brief stint with oboe and upright bass in middle school. I studied music throughout my life and quite seriously. I studied for over ten years at the Cleveland Institute of Music, and at a point in high school, I thought I might find myself applying to a conservatory of music in college. I toyed with a career in instrumental music, performance maybe, but ultimately writing was my path. 

Q: What inspired you to go into teaching writing? What exactly do you teach to the students at the Wexner Center? How do those students inspire you as a writer?

Dionne: I’ve always been interested in education, teaching. Due to my interest in writing, arts education [and] teaching writing felt like a natural progression in my career.

In my work I engage with students on opening up pathways to their writing through dynamic arts experiences in the galleries, on the screen (films and video), and on the stage. I work with students on how to find inspiration for writing in new and different ways, and on how to move through the writing process by engaging with the creative process. What can writers learn from other artists? I also work closely with teachers on how to integrate the arts in the teaching of the writing process. I find this work fulfilling, interesting, navigating our ideas and the writing process alongside sophisticated creative concepts and the creative experimentation, research, and process of contemporary art. I am learning alongside students and teachers I work with at the Wexner Center. We are all in this teaching and learning together.

Q: What advice would you give to people of all ages when it comes to stepping into the literary world? Is there a good stepping stone that you've found or ways someone can get involved in this world?

Dionne: I have no magical advice. I think as writers we continue to just put one foot in front of the other and engage opportunities as they come. I think writing every day, or at least consistently, is key. I think it helps to find a community of creatives or other writers, people who inspire you, hear you, support your process, and you can support their work. Ultimately once you’re writing, attending classes or workshops, revising, I say get out there and go to readings and other cool literary events to not only hear others’ work but to get your work out there as well.

Q: What is your favorite style of writing/what style do you lean to more?

Dionne: I suppose I like many different types and styles of writing, but I am particularly fond of poetry and creative nonfiction. I like writers that lean on life experiences and give an authentic and creative voice to the complexities of life. I'm trying to do that with my blog lifeandwrite.com. I want to make the everyday accessible. I tend to write poetry, lyrical prose, prose poetry. I like to experiment, blur genre a bit, but I dare not deny the poet in me.

Q: Where would you like to see the literary world go from here? Are there any dreams you have for our society as a whole in regards to writing and reading?

Dionne: That’s a huge question. I need to think about that for a while... I do hope that even as we evolve, develop, and experiment with all kinds of new technologies and interesting new ways to communicate, we remember to read (often), write (with intention), and wonder.

Q: You've done so much in your life, so what are your plans from here?

Dionne: You think? Maybe. Wow. Thank you. I feel like I’m just beginning, but no matter what is next in my life, I want to be sure I am fully present and engaged. I am so thankful for the opportunities I’ve had in my career. I really love this work, what I'm doing in the arts. I also enjoy my family, raising my three sons, they teach me so much: how to slow down, appreciate every breath, laugh, cry, reflect, and wonder. I write daily, in and around all the interestingness of life. Who knows what is next but I suppose I’m busy paying attention and in appreciation of now—oh and writing it all down of course.

The event will be held from 1-4 PM on Saturday, April 11 at Otterbein University Chapel, 88 Cochran Alley, Westerville, Ohio 43081. It is free and open to the public.