Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Remembering Doug Rutledge – Poet, Ambassador, Advocate, Host, Mentor, & Friend

Doug Rutledge. Photo courtesy of Randi Cohen.
Recently, OPA lost one of its own, Doug Rutledge, a poet and scholar who had a lasting impact on all who knew him. His poetry and reviews have appeared in Chautauqua, River Teeth, Rattle, Asheville Poetry Review, The Journal, Quiddity, Third Coast, Southwestern American Literature, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, Common Ground Review, Jabberwock Review, Harvard Review online, and Lumina. He taught at Capital University, worked at Jewish Family Services, owned and managed a book store with his wife Rebecca, coordinated the Peripatetic Poets reading series in Columbus, and served as President of the Ohio Poetry Association. Below, we have gathered the sentiment of those poets who crossed paths with Doug, expressed by a few who worked with him in the poetry community. More about Doug, including examples of his fine poetry, can be read at his website: dougrutledge.com.

"Doug served as OPA President from 2008 to 2010, and he and his wife, Rebecca, graciously hosted OPA’s business meetings in the Areopagitica Books store. Doug’s efforts to connect OPA members to well-published, highly respected poets, especially those who worked primarily as educators, helped to bring a greater emphasis on craft to the organization’s programming. He also re-envisioned the newsletter by including articles on poetic analysis and reviews. I served with him as a contributing newsletter editor and then as OPA secretary, laying the foundation of my involvement with the organization. He was a kind, generous man and one of the most intelligent people I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. I will miss him greatly."
– Chuck Salmons

"To be sure, Doug Rutledge was a tall man and handsome too – but he was soft spoken with a gracious demeanor, in other words, Doug was a true gentle man. My first encounter dates back to 2003 when he and his wife breathed life into Areopagitica, their vintage and antiquarian book shop, a place that turned into a neighborhood hub, a community gathering place. None other but its proprietors, Doug and Rebecca, extended that warm welcome beyond creed and all else, turning the back of their store into a center for writers' groups, poetry readings, music sessions, and coffeehouse gatherings. To expand on a quote by fellow Clintonville resident Bill Cohen who remarked about Areopagitica upon its closing seven years later that it has a body and a soul – so does Doug; while his body has died, his soul lives on in our fond memories of the voice of this poet, his advocacy of the craft of writing, his passion about the creative impulse, and his leadership of the Ohio Poetry Association (OPA). The OPA is so much the richer of having found in him a dedicated supporter and past president who remained active and true to the cause to his very end. Not even half a year ago, I had the privilege to aid him in his invitational grant proposal for poets Angie Estes and Mark Irwin during National Poetry Month. Doug, eloquently but ever so humbly, impressed upon the Greater Columbus Arts Council that National Poetry Month would be well served by their workshops and readings. And in April, there he was, introducing both poets to the audience…"
– Susann Moeller

Three OPA presidents: Mark Hersman (left), Doug Rutledge (center), and Chuck Salmons
at the book launch for
A Rustling and Waking Within in 2017.
"As I sat in the backyard of Bill and Randi Cohen during the beautiful memorial service, they held for Doug last week, I imagined seeing his statuesque frame standing in the shadows and hearing his melodious baritone in the breeze. What a gracious man Doug was. I first met him twenty years ago when I moved to Columbus. He invited me to critique sessions where he, Chuck Salmons, and I sat on living room chairs in the front window of Areopagitica Books and talked craft. I was appreciative to connect with local poets and to connect with Doug, a poet with such lively, professorial ways. I always found his poetry inspiring in its depth and sophistication. Just last year, when he invited me to be a feature in the Peripatetic Reading series, he not only granted me the opportunity to use that time as a book launch, but also offered to write a most generous blurb for my new collection. I am grateful for his friendship, mentorship, and most of all, the way he walked his talk as an impassioned world citizen."
– Rikki Santer

"Doug and I, who knew each other from the bookstore Areopagitica, became especially good friends when, last winter and spring, I was able to meet and bring him home after chemo treatments. Though he was often terribly tired and in pain, he was always happy to talk–about poetry, of course, but also about history, politics and language. He wanted to improve his French. He also continued to read seriously, Vergil’s Aeneid, for instance. Of his death, I think of Doug as sliding quietly into the sea, and I am very, very sad."
– Craig McVay

"My husband and I were introduced to OPA during trips to the Areopagitica Book Store which were highlighted by brief but always meaningful encounters with one of its proprietors, Doug. We loved to come early to the meetings to browse in the bookstore and return home with one o the other treasure. We both appreciated Doug’s emphasis on the craft of poetry in the workshops. During my online teaching in nursing, I am referring students in service learning projects involved with Somali refugees to Doug’s insightful book: The Somali Diaspora: A Journey Away. And so, Doug lives on, beyond the confines of his life."
– Sharon Mooney

"I will always remember the moment Doug asked me to serve as Vice President of the Ohio Poetry Association. It was a great honor to work closely with him and see the organization thrive under his leadership (2008-2010). Guided by a sound vision, he invited well established Ohio poets to share with our members their knowledge through poetry readings and workshops. He inspired me as a poet and friend to read more American, British, and world literature to bring insight to and deepen my own poetry. He served as an inspiring example when I witnessed how his poetry grew and transformed through his MFA studies with Angie Estes and Mark Irwin. I was very sad when I learned of his death. He touched the lives of so many in the poetry community. I miss him."
– Deborah Strozier

Thursday, September 12, 2019

From the City to the Lakes: An Interview with Dionne Custer Edwards

Tomorrow is the official start of the 2019 Sun & Moon Festival, and the Ohio Poetry Association is honored to host Dionne Custer Edwards as a workshop leader!  Click here to learn more about Dionne and her workshop, "reWrite." 

In the following interview with the Ohio Poetry Association's treasurer, Sayuri Ayers, Dionne shares her insights on the craft of poetry and the natural world.

SA:  May you tell us about a memorable experience you’ve had with the natural world?

DCE: A few summers ago, my family and I went to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. We spent time on Lake Michigan and on Lake Huron. I loved getting my three kids out of the city to breathe different air and to move with a different rhythm and pace. I loved staying on the lake and watching the sky change over the water in the mornings and evenings. So beautiful.

SA:  Is your poetry influenced by the natural world? If so, please tell us how.

DCE: Not all of my work is influenced by the natural world, but I do write a lot about nature and the environment.

SA:  If you could introduce yourself to others through a poem, which poem (yours or one by another poet) would you choose?

DCE: I like “blessing the boats,” by Lucille Clifton. I also often return to the poem “Harness,” by Jane Hirshfield.

SA:  What element(s) of craft do you focus on in your poetry?

DCE: I often pursue sound and rhythm.

SA:  How would you encourage poets who are navigating the current political/cultural climate? Is there a poem that has helped you?

DCE: I encourage poets to continue to read, write, and exist on this earth as best as one can. Be safe. Be well.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

On Letting in the Wild: An Interview with Ruth Awad

During OPA’s Sun and Moon Poetry Festival, Ruth Awad will be leading a workshop, “On Persona: Exploring Other Voices Respectfully.” Please click here to learn more about Ruth and her workshop.  We are so excited to have her at the festival!

In the following interview with Sayuri Ayers, the OPA Treasurer, Ruth shares her views on the natural world and poetry.


SA: May you tell us about a memorable experience you’ve had with the natural world?


RA: I think of my dogs as a tether to the world itself, but they are also representative of what it means to let the wild into our lives. I am in awe all the time that these beautiful animals, bred down from wolves, don’t eat me while I’m asleep and helpless.


SA: Is your poetry influenced by the natural world? If so, please tell us how.


RA: I can’t compartmentalize the natural world from – what exactly? There are trees outside my window. There is grass beside the sidewalk. I live in the city, but does that mean I am divorced from the natural world? I like to think that’s not the case. So yes, the natural world exists in my work. I recently downloaded this bird song recognition app called BirdGenie so I can identify what type of bird is chirping and what they’re going on about. Highly recommended.


SA: If you could introduce yourself to others through a poem, which poem (yours or one by another poet) would you choose?


RA: Probably this poem because it really speaks to my obsession right now with how we can never fully understand the interior lives of others.


SA: What element(s) of craft do you focus on in your poetry?


RA: I’m always trying to cultivate a more active imagination to improve my metaphors and associative leaps.


SA: How would you encourage poets who are navigating the current political/cultural climate? Is there a poem that has helped you?


RA: Your poetry is a political tool – use it as such.


I love this poem by Jamaal May – “There Are Birds Here” – how it pushes back against harmful tropes about Detroit.

Friday, August 30, 2019

The Art of Haiku: An Interview with Joe McKeon



https://99739a8f-a-814d1b0b-s-sites.googlegroups.com/a/ohiopoetryassn.com/the-ohio-poetry-association/upcoming-seminars/sun-moon-poetry-festival/workshop-leaders/Joe%20McKeon_Workshop%20photo.jpg?attachauth=ANoY7cqvHJtRDs_0PI0bf77Nz2g2aDUlrdsEs4GNnm7xIYSvoAIwnzV7Jt5IRl3eavZJ5NqUm9BQNl1T_iM3MYfGShcb8SVIwt3VeY6mQzHwlXkoTCMBZX64kIhp4XJAEY8LGPyvD0YhAr9t1yWGRTI1KnxGg4ClB5gwYcb6ExidMJNTHTBhrGxXCX5tN6tolWOfvMGssKfEvfx5mWMFAlPY34Cn2hQWyIhdOswG4YUqISTZ8d64Pf16kFuT83G3wQ4FMUpP-NRRWH4bCF2eVnMDHkLuUR42nHUko_Ylo6kF7L3AL0PJxlI093Lo4uiva_EGQ3-blQGu0ImxKJAy2po9m129vjaVaw%3D%3D&attredirects=0The Ohio Poetry Association is excited to have Joe McKeon as a Sun & Moon Poetry Festival workshop leader!


To learn more about Joe and his workshop,
"Can everything that schoolchildren are taught about haiku poetry be wrong?" please click here



In the following interview with Sayuri Ayers, the OPA Treasurer, Joe shares his thoughts on haiku and shares some of his selected works.



SA: Is your poetry influenced by the natural world? If so, please tell us how.



JM: Man’s interaction with, and being a part of, nature is at the core of haiku. It is a common misconception, however, that haiku is about nature. A major element of traditional haiku is a seasonal reference called a kigo. We will discuss this at length in the workshop. Suffice it to say that seasonal references include many nature images. They appear throughout my poetry. For example:



moonless sky

one firefly lights

the path





headwinds shift

the lead goose moves

to the rear



SA: If you could introduce yourself to others through a poem, which poem (yours or one by another poet) would you choose?   



JM: This is an incredibly difficult question for a haiku poet. Haiku are egoless poems. By that I mean that they do not call attention to the poet’s opinions, judgments, language or “poetic” skills, or cleverness. The goal is for the poet avoid leaving his “thumbprint” on a poem. That is not to say, however, that haiku cannot be personal. By way of introduction here are two of my poems that are very personal to me:

    

memorial wall

dew drips through the space 

where my name should be





empty nest

snow deepens

the silence 

 

SA: What element(s) of craft do you focus on in your poetry?



JM: Interesting question!  [A part] of this workshop is “Haiku – The Poetry of Focus." Writing haiku is all about focus and capturing a specific moment. We will discuss the key elements of haiku, including brevity, openness, objectivity, simplicity, humility, engagement of the senses, and emotional impact. The real craft and challenge of writing haiku involves bringing as many as possible of these elements into a one breath-long poem. For example, here are two of my poems:



frozen pond

tiny cracks grow

between us





dining alfresco

the touch of a toe

under the table



SA: How would you encourage poets who are navigating the current political/cultural climate? Is there a poem that has helped you? 



JM: Haiku have addressed political and social issues for centuries. Much of what I write falls into this category and I find it very therapeutic. The challenge is to do so while honoring the most basic of haiku principles – “show, don’t tell.” Once again, this means blunt objectivity - no opinions, commentaries, or judgments. Here are some of my poems that are of this ilk:

  
oil swirls

in a sand castle moat

screeching gulls





outdoor exhibit

the darkness of winter

in the gorilla's eyes





breeched levee

a white stork shifts

to the other leg





dark alley

an ash can fire warms

the shadows




To find out more information about the Sun & Moon Poetry Festival, please click here.  


Festival registration is now open and will end on August 31.