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
  • 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!


Chuck Salmons
President, OPA