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Showing posts from 2013

The Ashland Poetry Workshop

We were twenty-five souls who took arms against windy snow to join the Ashland Poetry Workshop for a weekend this past November 23-24. The schedule comprised four hours of workshop with highly accomplished poets, an open reading for participants, and readings by workshop leaders. Several OPA members were there, Patricia Black, Jennifer Hambrick, Sharon Mooney, Deb Strozier, and Laura Weldon, among them. The leaders were Deborah Fleming, Steven Haven, and Sarah Wells from Ashland University and Robin Davidson of the University of Houston. For two hours Saturday morning and two the next, Steven Haven, director of the MFA program at Ashland, led six of us in workshop. He had obviously read the poems carefully, and he encouraged plenty of discussion. About the other leaders, I heard few, if any, mutters of discontent. A single hitch: one leader, who thought the Saturday workshops would continue after lunch, didn't start to entertain participants' poems until the morning sessi

Poetry Problem Solving 101 with Bruce Weigl

The September 21 OPA event featuring Bruce Weigl was another great afternoon of poetry and writing. Weigl, who has twice been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, treated the audience to a terrific reading from two of his most recent books, followed by a writing exercise that stressed the importance of using the imagination —especially  when writing about the familiar. The poet’s working-class background is prominent in his work, though Weigl referred to it as a blessing and a curse. But he strongly believes in poetry reaching the wider public through organizations such as OPA. He drew the analogy to Europe and other parts of the world where writing organizations are prominent and often revered. One of the interesting things Weigl mentioned during the afternoon was that his latest book, The Abundance of Nothing (Triquarterly Books, 2012), took eight years to write. After Declension in the Village of Chung Luong (Ausable Press, 2006), Weigl felt he had said everything he had

2013 Ohio Poetry Association Picnic Saturday July 20th

Review: Hocking Hills Festival of Poetry

Hocking Hills Festival of Poetry Presented by The Power of Poetry             “I have laid aside business, and gone a’fishing.”             (Izaac Walton, The Compleat Angler, ca. 1650) The Izaac Walton Lodge, up the slope from Lake Logan , is the unpretentious home for the unpretentious—and magnificent-—annual Hocking Hills Festival of Poetry, this year held on April 19–20. Alan Cohen, who says he is “the planner, cook, schlepper, dish washer, talent agent, etc.,” estimated that the Festival—whose theme, “Songs of the Other World”—brought together some 140 poets and friends from as far as California and Maryland . Special guests were poets Naomi Shibab Nye and Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer and storyteller Will Hornyak, who read or performed from their work each evening. More on them below. First, we heard music, performed by pianist Evie Adelman and flutist Gert Young, of Bach, Schumann, and others. (There was an occasional flat note.) Laz Slovits played guit

A Few (Unsolicited) Lessons from Sharon Olds

Sharon Olds Reading  Columbus College of Art & Design 2/28/13 As some of my fellow poets and friends know, I was fortunate enough to take part in a 5-day workshop with Sharon Olds back in 2005 at the Esalen Institute , a beautiful retreat atop a seaside cliff of northern California in Big Sur country. While one of my fondest memories of that experience is of falling asleep each night with the sound of the Pacific crashing against the rocks at the base of the cliff outside, I also will never forget the amazing workshops with Sharon. She, like her poetry, is honest, introspective, and relentless in tackling her demons—both internal and external. For those of us who love her poetry, this may be the biggest reason why. The Esalen workshops taught me a lot about my own work, such as how to take chances in my poems, and so again did the evening this past Thursday at Columbus College of Art and Design (CCAD), where Sharon gave a wonderful reading, sandwiching a “conversation”