Friday, October 23, 2015

Neil Carpathios shares his Desert Island Books

On Saturday, October 10, 2015, at Otterbein College, Neil Carpathios provided those who attended the OPA quarterly business meeting and workshop an inspiring afternoon of poetry. His focus was on how to make your poems more original, and how to make them stand out in the crowd. 

Creating delightful, surprising poetry is something Carpathios does well. He has three books of poems:  Playground of Flesh (Main Street Rag), At the Axis of Imponderables (winner of the Quercus Review Press Book Award), and Beyond the Bones (FutureCycle Press). He also is the author of several award-winning chapbooks and recently was named the winner of the 2015 Slipstream Press Poetry Competition for his collection, The Function of Sadness, which will be published in autumn of 2015. 

In keeping with the dictum that says, to be a good writer you must be a good reader, we asked Carpathios to provide us with a list of the ten books he would take with him if he were stranded on a desert island. Here is his list. 

1. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez--"Masterpiece of magical realism exploring time, history, and family."
2. Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman--"Poems that celebrate the entirety of existence in the face of life's brevity."
3. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius--"Self-reflections that convey the stoic philosophy."
4. The Oxford Book of Aphorisms--"Intellectual small bites to whet the mind's appetite."
5. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard—"Memoiristic essays on the natural world, perception, and spirituality."
6. The Denial of Death by Ernest Becker--"Nonfiction psychological and philosophical exploration of death in all its facets."
7. Collected Fictions by Jorge Luis Borges--Short tales and fables by the Argentine writer that convey the immensities of time, the supernatural elements inherent in existence, and the sheer relishing of mystery in the world.
8. Collected Poems by Jack Gilbert--"Emotionally honest poems of passion for love, the erotic, the life of solitude and the mind."
9. New and Selected Poems (1962-2012) by Charles Simic--"Darkly humorous poems that turn the ordinary upside down and allow the reader to see alternate realities in the everyday."
10. Selected Poems of Rumi--"Mystical poems by the great Persian poet."

© 2015 The Ohio Poetry Association

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Outstanding Students Shine in the Ohio Poetry Association Contest

In a recent article in The Atlantic, titled,  “Why Teaching Poetry is so Important,” Andrew Simmons wrote,
"Poetry enables teachers to teach their students how to write, read, and understand any text. Poetry can give students a healthy outlet for surging emotions. Reading original poetry aloud in class can foster trust and empathy in the classroom community, while also emphasizing speaking and listening skills that are often neglected in high school literature classes.

Sara Abou Rashed, OPA Grand Prize winner in the 2014-15 
contests reads  her poetry at the annual picnic. Sara is from 
Centennial High School.  Her teacher was Sarah E. Barry.
The Ohio Poetry Association has long recognized the value of encouraging young people to participate in poetry.  For the past thirty-three years, we have been sponsoring an annual student poetry contest. This year’s contest brings opportunities for prizes and publication across ten categories such as poetry of place, of family, ekphrastic poetry, and poetry that celebrates women.  A grand prize winner will be published in Common Threads, OPA’s poetry journal and have an opportunity to read their poem at a public gathering. Ten eligible winners' poems will be sent on to the Manningham Trust Student Poetry Contest sponsored by the National Federation of State Poetry Societies. Submissions are currently being accepted until January 15, 2016.

The OPA contest is open to any student in grades 9–12 in public schools, private and faith-based schools, and home schooled students in Ohio. There is no entry fee. For complete guidelines and a list of all the categories, check out the OPA website. 

Sandra Feen, who teaches English 10 and Creative Writing at Briggs High School in Columbus, has encouraged her students to participate for several years. She says, "OPA provides high school contests that appeal to students of all demographics and engage an array of artistic palettes. My students look forward to all of the contest choices each year and see it as a privilege to submit to a quality literary organization such as the Ohio Poetry Association, where they know their work will be thoughtfully considered and revered."
Michael Rainwater placed third in the Manningham
competition last year. Michael is home schooled by his
mother, Holli Rainwater.
The success of the contest depends upon getting information about it to high schools and high school teachers across the state. We will be contacting schools with mailings and flyers; but, if you know of a high school aged student, please let them know about the contest and encourage them to participate. If you know a teacher, please inform them of the contest as well. It is often through the encouragement of teachers like Sandra Feen, that a young person first comes to poetry. 

© 2015 The Ohio Poetry Association

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

First annual Serpent Mound poetry event a success

Nancy Shanahan, Director of the AAPS welcomed guests.

The nearly thirty guests who attended the OPA poetry reading, “Voices from the Past,” at Serpent Mound State Memorial on Saturday, September 26, 2015, were treated to a delightful afternoon of poetry and drums.  The Great Serpent Mound is a 1,348-foot three-foot-high prehistoric effigy mound on a plateau of an ancient impact crater along Brush Creek in Adams County, Ohio. The mound is maintained by the Arc of Appalachia Preserve System (AAPS) on behalf of the Ohio History Connection. It is designated a National Historic Landmark by the United States Department of Interior. 

Kimberlee Medicine Horn Jackson
was the featured reader.

Guests were welcomed by Nancy Shanahan, Director of the AAPS, and then treated to the poetry of  featured reader Kimberlee Medicine Horn Jackson. Kimberlee is a Yankton Sioux Native American. Her poetry examines the fading boundary between Native and non-native, and questions whether to re-enforce the lines between two worlds or to smudge the great divide where peaceful relationships can be restored. She is an adjunct English instructor at Kent State University, Geauga Campus. 

Kari Gunter-Seymour was among
those who read poems.
Additional readers included, Rikki Santer, Chuck Salmons, Steve Abbott, Jack Burgess, Kathleen Burgess, Kerry Trautman, and Kari Gunter-Seymour. Mark Hersman and Connie Willet Everett emceed the event.

David and Guilda LaClerc Altman
played the drums for the event.
Drumming was provided by David and Guilda LeClerc Altman. The Altmans have hosted and facilitated many drum circles in multiple venues, including nursing homes, senior centers, private parties, local fairs, poetry readings, and solstice/equinox events. 

According to Chuck Salmons, president of OPA and reader at the event, “Though the weather grew cool and a bit wet as the afternoon progressed, the setting was perfect. The poetry combined with the drumming made the day a nice tribute to this monument and state treasure.”

Visitor Carol Loyd, from State College, Pennsylvania, said, “It was an extraordinary event, unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before.”

Herb Wasserstrom, from Columbus, agreed saying, “This was a wonderful event in every respect. The people who were presenting their poetry were as fine a group of poets as I’ve ever seen in one place at one time. Thoroughly enjoyable! Do it again!”

Following is one of the poems Kimberlee shared with those who gathered at Serpent Mound:

Reach Across

In re-memory I was never
taken; never kidnapped. I do not
remember that unreal day.

I reach across time; decades are lumbering clouds
super-saturated with tears; I mean water.
Grief takes as long as it needs.

Never mind I was two, never mind—

I reach across the long sky, neon shifting
auroras like a young mother and toddler embracing.
Fleeting, so fleeting… so temporary, so fragile.

Call them the long arms, the strong arms of government.
Name them dissolute in the act of unbraiding
Native families; their plan superior to Creator.

Say they walk in the armor of arrogance, go on;
Say it. There are no hushed voices now.
We have been silenced too long.

Kimberlee Medicine Horn Jackson said of the event, “The setting at Serpent Mound for Voices of the Past: the Ancient Ones was perfect. To be among the other poets from Ohio and listen to our diverse voices honor the past was a beautiful way to share stories of the ones who have gone before us.”