Sunday, April 29, 2012

No Fracking Joke

Some of us feel the appropriate amount of terror over the seemingly unstoppable fracking industry that's beating down the door in Eastern Ohio. Well, by beating down the door, I mean that they've been handed a master key and the code to the safe by our governor and much of the local governments, as well as private landowners. 

My friend and talented poet and artist Nin Andrews is trying to get people to Wake Up! Wake Up! before it's too late. Fracking comics? Yeah, I think so, because there's always humor lurking about the edge of disaster. 

Check them out.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Night under Footsteps: A Reading with the authors of Kattywompus Press

I'm thrilled, thrilled! to be reading at our beloved Mac's Backs bookstore with three of my good friends to celebrate Kattywompus Press. Mine was the fourth chapbook at KP, and now there's a tableful. They are gorgeously covered, with a perfect heft and texture, and I'm honored and humbled to be among the essential voices there.

And I'm excited to see my lovely Cleveland friends, many fine writers. I enjoyed being a Clevelander while I was a student in the Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts. Walkable cities is all over the media now, and Lakewood was the most walkable place I've lived. I can foot it to many places here in Youngstown, but in some spots the sidewalk disappears completely, and in others it's chewed up and stony. I've gone through soles! I finally found nurses' shoes with soles of titanium.

Anyway, I digress.

Here's a blurb from the Facebook event page.

On Saturday, April 28th at 7 PM, please join four of the authors from Kattywompus Press for an evening of poetry, books, and footsteps overhead at Mac’s Backs, 1820 Coventry Road, Cleveland, OH 44106.

Robert Miltner teaches creative writing, literature and film studies at Kent State University Stark and is on the poetry faculty of the Northeast Ohio MFA in Creative Writing consortium program. He is the author of 11 chapbooks, including, recently, Queen Mab and the Moon Boy from Kattywompus Press; the forthcoming Imperative from All Nations Press. His received a Wick Chapbook award for Against the Simple and the Many Voices Project award from New Rivers Press for Hotel Utopia. His stories and poems appear in Pleiades, Diagram, Sentence, Bellingham Review, Storyglossia, Perigee, Potomac, LIT, Barrow Street and the New York Quarterly. Two Trains Too Many, a CD of his poems with original guitar compositions by Erin Vaughn of the Ryan Humbert Band, was just released by Blue Caboose Records.

Nin Andrews is the author of several collections of poetry including Why They Grow Wings; Midlife Crisis with Dick and Jane; The Book of Orgasms; Sleeping with Houdini; Spontaneous Breasts; The Accidental Seduction; Dear Professor, Do You Live in a Vacuum?; Southern Comfort; and The Secret Life of Mannequins. For more info, you can check out her blog at

Eric Anderson’s first book of poetry, The Parable of the Room Spinning, is now available from Kattywompus Press. He is also the author of a chapbook, Confederate Season, and a novella, Isn’t That Just Like You? On weekends, he plays guitar for The Black Valentines.

Karen Schubert is the recipient of a 2012 Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award in poetry. Her poems, interviews and essays appear or are forthcoming in the Review Review, Best American Poetry blog, riverbabble, AGNI Online, Knockout Literary Magazine and others. She is the author of Bring Down the Sky (Kattywompus, 2011) and The Geography of Lost Houses (Pudding House, 2008). She lives in Youngstown, Ohio, among poets and artists and some beautiful sculpted bike racks. She teaches English at Youngstown State University, and writing to a community group at Mill Creek Park. 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

"I'm good with chopsticks," said the woman with rice in her lap

Nin Andrews and I are just back from a visit to Shawnee State where we answered smart and engaging questions in Neil Carpathios's class, and read to a full room of attentive listeners. It's really great to look out and see everyone is with you.

Criss-crossing Ohio was especially pleasing on a clear sky day in April, the whole state blooming with dogwood and redbud. Coming from Youngstown, I expected Portsmouth's economic suffering to be closer to the surface, but we saw lovely neighborhoods, including the street where my parents lived when I was born, and thriving business districts. This is not to say that less visible suffering is somehow better - people mentioned homelessness, demolitions and the Oxycontin addictions we've been reading about. But as a whole, the small city looks like it's holding on, and the painted murals along the floodwall and gorgeous bridge, all wire and tension, the wooded hills, houses with their wide porches, flowers everywhere, walkway along the river, (the river skinnier there than I expected), it's all quite beautiful and alive.

Since my friend who taught me to use chopsticks moved away, I have apparently gotten rusty, and after the second rice-lap event I gave up. Nin and I were there with Neil and two inspiring professors from the Women's Center, whose issue of the journal Tapestries we were there to help release. 

It was a most excellent trip, and a heartfelt thanks to Nin, Neil, Shawnee State and Tapestries for including me.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Youngstown Cash Mob April Event!

Those of you who live in the Mahoning Valley may remember Frankie's, the restaurant in Hubbard that was lost in a fire. The owner also owns the Arthur Treacher's at 4451 Mahoning Ave., the site of our April cash mob event.

Our goal is to support business that are locally owned and operated, and this one fits the bill. Although the owner pays a small royalty fee, he gets no economic support from the franchisor, has a local distributor, and is free to expand his menu. And expand it, he has: ribs, lobster rolls, baked potatoes and grilled items round out the usual fish and chips and fried clams.

His nominator spoke passionately about all the owner and his wife do for our community. We're looking forward to meeting him. He and his crew are excited about our visit, and he plans to circulate with samples and maybe even new menu items.

Come on down and join us. We'll be there from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Sat. 28 April. You'll see our Cash Mob sign, and if this is your first event with us, we invite you to get onto our email list so we can send you a message each month about our upcoming event.

We're taking nominations today for our May cash mob destination. You can find the Youngstown Cash Mob on Facebook. Next weekend we'll take a vote, and we'll visit our winner on the 4th Sat. in May. Our first two events brought in over $1100 for the businesses, and beyond that they were wildly fun.

If there isn't a cash mob in your community, start one. It's simple and meaningful and great. Here's a national cash mob website with a list of cash mobs and a forum for asking for and sharing advice. I love their motto: We each do a little, we all do a lot.