Monday, July 14, 2014

Review: American Dervish by Steven Reese

 The poetry collection American Dervish by Steven Reese deserves recognition for its insights and command of language. From the opening line, it grabs the reader by both hands and takes her for a beautiful spin, where landscape and the music of culture whirl by. With his intellect and pacing, Reese controls the dance, and the reader relaxes into it, feeling a range of emotions. Although in these times it’s a cliché, I laughed out loud in some places, and the gut-punch sadness of other places made the laughter sweeter. 

One of my favorite poems was featured on Verse Daily. It begins:  

While we're asleep, the brain tends
To the animals.
It drops the electric fence
And they hurry out, they've waited all day.
They wander through town
Down the middle of streets, it's alright,
They know the benevolent mayor here
And his brother the butcher
Who sits outside the locked door
Of his shop and smokes
A joint, watching and laughing.
From the delightful title that sends me to the dictionary, I am hooked.  The poem continues to poke fun at our animal psyches, and our attempts at creating an intellectual society that is better than we are. More than mocking, it's a kind of sophisticated deprecation of our collectives selves that I appreciate, in a you-can-tease-me-if-it's-funny kind of way.

Several times I arrived at the end of a poem and realized I was holding my breath. Then I realized the whole one or two page poem had only one full stop. I found myself going back to see how the construction worked. I love it when a poem makes me think, how did he do that?
Reese offers the theory that America began with a quick-step, a clumsy thump-thump, then we dervished our way across the land, dizzy and ahead of ourselves, and here we are today, in love with the dance even if we don’t always understand it. 

 Our history personified might begin
as that B western scene where the liquored up villain
pulls six-shooters, says dance,
and starts blasting the ground out from under out feet--

we're pressed into it,
                         this hide-saving highstep
                  improvised in extremis, this whirling
that goes on even after the shooting stops
It is a complicated view, both critical and affectionate, of our complicated history. But the book’s zoom level moves in tight, as well. The breadth of this work is impressive, from Pilgrim Thomas Morton to John Chapman to Fallingwater to the tender domesticity of struggling to raise a son with Asberger’s, living through a father’s death, and loving a wife. 

Practice Elegy for my Father

This kite-flying wind, these slow-drift grays
Feathered with white, a rain that will be hours
Filling the shallow bird bath

Are all that's left of a storm that once launched
An exodus for shelter, then seized on the roofs
Of the emptied houses and peeled them back
Like the pull-tab lids of our cat food.

Steve Reese is among Ohio’s finest poets. His work is imaginative, poignant, witty and evocative, his mastery of storytelling, word play, imagery, movement, the line and the break, is so fine.

Cover image by Ohio artist Mary Farragher.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Youngstown Cash Mob Has Its Day in the City

 Cash Mob in the City on June 14!

And another round of thanks to my co-organizers Kelly Bancroft and Colleen Clayton-Dippolito.  The cash mob will begin after the Color Run, around noon. Since runners-walkers will be wearing white and they’ll have powdered dye lobbed at them as they move through the city, the downtown will be extra sparkly.

Color Run participants will be parking at the Covelli Center, so cash mobbers will have no trouble finding parking in some of the gigantic lots on Front Street, or on-street parking and pocket lots throughout the downtown. Alternately, you might hitch your bike to the bike rack sculpture on the square at Federal Plaza or at Home Savings, or hop a bus and zoom in to the WRTA station.

Downtown businesses are expecting us, and they may have something special in store for the cash mob. Ask the food vendors if they have a cash mob sampler on tap. I can imagine grazing one’s way through town, stopping in to see the places you haven’t been yet, or spreading your love to several favorites. Hopefully we’ll have a beautiful day and the patio tables will all be out.

Cash Mob in the City
Sat. June 14, noon – 7:00 p.m.
downtown youngstown
Lunch, dinner, coffee, sweets, snacks
Clothes, collectibles, art, books, music
Children’s and history museums
Car detailing

This weekend, we are voting for the July cash mob, and so far we have a tie between Santisi Wholesale Food Co. on Mahoning Ave. and Outdoor Recreational Equipment on Market St. Perfect, right? Nothing says summer like a great deli and bikes and kayaks.

I hope to see you downtown on the 14th!

Thanks for helping us spread the word.

Cash mob: like flash mob, only the singing is optional.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

cash mob hits hubbard gift shop

I am in lower case mode while I nurse an arm injury. On the mend!

so much cash mob news! let’s start with last month’s big day at One Closet Boutique in niles. we had fun at this sweet shop on hwy. 422. the store is a former house, a terrific repurposing. the cash mob fell on the first gorgeous saturday in spring and who can compete with that? so the turnout was skimpy, and I wanted to put in one more word to those who would most love it, the slender fashionistas among us.

the new warren-niles-trumbull co. cash mob hit the ground running yesterday at subs plus in niles. I was one of the last diners in the mobbery and the servers I talked to said it had been a steady day. I’m so thrilled about this enthusiastic and quickly growing cash mob extraordinaire!

our own cash mob will be at the Hubbard Ohio Gift Shop, 
6177 youngstown-hubbard rd., 
next saturday may 24, 
from 10:00 to 5:00.  
about her shop, owner Diana says “Hubbard Ohio Gift Shop features Diana's all natural handmade items, Gramz' Vintage Jewelry & new, Avon, odds & ends, Ceramics, Gypsy Queen Media $1.00 books & $2 videos, greeting cards, hand-poured candles, floral decor, glassware + pet stuff. We are in the old Rhodes Dairy, across from the old McKenzie Square shop. We are in the same little plaza as UnderDog Records (still there) and 2 Much Stuff (the old Dotti's Beauty Place)..” please note that this shop is cash only.

in june, wow! a new farmer’s market begins on Glenwood Ave. Tues. nights. the site is next to the new community park, across from lafrance cleaners. the first market will be june 10th. come on down and check out the rural and urban farmers growing food right here, for us.

june 14 will be a huge event we’re calling cash mob in the city. we will be cash mobbing the whole downtown. our event will begin after the color run. we’ve been talking to businesses and will be distributing flyers. mark your calendars, bring your people and visit the places you’ve never been into. or, instead of eating a meal at one eatery, ask if a special cash mob sampler is on the menu, and graze your way down the town. the mob times are roughly noon to 7:00. there is lots of parking in the big lots on front street, on the street or in pocket lots. or consider taking the bus right downtown.

more and more people have heard of us and support what we’re doing, and I’m optimistic we can continue to grow our efforts and the local economy. not enough jobs? let’s make some.

thanks for your support!

cash mob, like flash mob, only the singing is optional.