Sunday, October 18, 2020

Video of 10/17 SpoFest Laureate Reading feat. Bargen, Barnstone, Craigo, Burroughs, Gunter-Seymour

If you missed last night's SpoFest reading, here's the video. Hearty thanks to our host James Bryant! It was an honor for me to read with Ohio Poet Laureate Kari Gunter-Seymour, Missouri Poet Laureate Karen Craigo and former Missouri Poets Laureate Walter Bargen and Aliki Barnstone. I begin around the 1:27:00 mark.

Video permalink:

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

SpoFest Features Five Missouri & Ohio Poets Laureate on October 17th

I will have the honor of reading with Ohio Poet Laureate Kari Gunter-Seymour and three Missouri Poets Laureate - Karen Craigo (current), Aliki Barnstone (past) and Walter Bargen (past) - during a special online SpoFest event hosted by James Bryant on October 17th at 7 p.m. Eastern. I feel fortunate to be included as the current Ohio Beat Poet Laureate.

More details:

Enter our email drawing to win a copy of a book from one of the five featured poets (one book per winner) at Provide your first and last name. U.S. residences only. Your email will only be used for this email drawing. Five lucky winners will be drawn at the end of the event.

Follow SpoFest Open Mic Poetry and Prose on Facebook and Twitter.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

The Beat Goes On at the Bronx Book Fair on October 5th

Very much looking forward to reading with these fine folk as part of this year's virtual Bronx Book Fair on October 5th 2020 at 5 p.m. Eastern. Many thanks to Executive Director Lorraine Currelley!

Click here to register:

Featured poets: John Burroughs, William F. DeVault, Igor Goldkind, Deborah Tosun Kilday, Tammi Truax, Chryssa Velissariou.

The 2020 Bronx Book Fair runs from October 2nd through 5th. For more info and updates, please visit

Sunday, September 13, 2020

I Am Interviewed and Read Two Poems in Episode 6 of GAS

I am grateful to be part of the latest episode of GAS: Poetry, Art & Music, hosted by Belinda Subraman. The program also features work by Gail Newman, Sugar Whiskey (Dan Nielsen and Georgia Bellas), Peggy Rush, Ken Clinger, Jason O'Toole, Rigoberto De La Mora, and International Beat Poet Laureate Chryssa Velissariou. You'll find me around the 19:30 mark, where Belinda interviews me briefly and I read my poems "Flagging" and "Tell Them I Am Sent You."

Video permalink:

Monday, September 7, 2020

Video I Recorded for the 2020 National Beat Poetry Festival

In it I read three timely poems: "Food for Thought," "Faith Without Works Is Dead" and "I Am Not Ready to Die."

Video permalink:

You can also see me read the same poems live on the complete Day One video.

To see many more videos of participants and honorees from around the world, including readings by and interviews with this year's new Beat Poets Laureate, check out the National Beat Poetry Foundation's YouTube Channel.

Thanks again to Debbie Tosun Kilday, Chryssa Velissariou, Paul Richmond and Shaw Israel Izikson for outperforming Sisyphus and rolling this rockin' festival all the way up and over the top despite quasi-Herculean challenges.

Saturday, September 5, 2020

2020 National Beat Poetry Festival - Lineup for Days Two and Three

Day one of this year's National Beat Poetry Festival featured a number of memorable performances. Many thanks to Debbie Tosun Kilday, Shaw Israel Izikson, Chryssa Velissariou and Paul Richmond for all they have done (and continue to do) to make it happen.

The video from all three days will be found in the National Beat Poetry Foundation's Facebook group.

Saturday September 5th (Day Two) - 1 to 5 p.m.
Celebrating Newly Appointed Beat Poets Laureate

Anne Waldman - (2020 - Lifetime) USA
David Amram - (2020 - Lifetime) USA
James P. Wagner - US National Beat Poet Laureate (2020-2021)
Michael D. Amitin - International Beat Poet Laureate (2020-2021)
Gabor G. Gyukics - Hungary Beat Poet Laureate (Lifetime)
Randy Barnes - Official NBPF Historian (Lifetime)
Andy Clausen - State of New York Beat Poet Laureate (2020-2022)
Amelia Matus - State of Wisconsin Beat Poet Laureate (2020-2022)
Rich Ferguson - State of California Beat Poet Laureate (2020-2022)
Thom Woodruff - State of Texas Beat Poet Laureate (2020-2022)
Lorraine Currelley - Bronx Beat Poet Laureate (2020-2022)
Carlos Raul Dufflar - New York City Beat Poet Laureate (2020-2022)
Leo Jarret - State of Michigan Beat Poet Laureate (2020-2022)
Virginia Shreve - State of Connecticut Beat Poet Laureate (2020-2022)

Saturday September 6th (Day Three) - 1 to 5 p.m.
Celebrating Artists from Around the World at our Virtual Open Mic:

Michael L. Kilday
James P. Wagner
David K. Leff
Kenya Washington aka Kenya Thee Lotus
Ernest Brute and Object Echo
Howie Faerstein
Jack Sheedy
Karl Urso
Sandra Bishop-Ebner
Dianne Borsenik
Patricia Mason-Martin
Amy Lamprade
Meg Harris
Sandra Feen
Jon Wesick
Zachariah Shaskin
Angel Martinez
Ron Whittle
Pamela Twining
Benjamin Wiseman
Jim Finnegan
Joshua Corwin
Nigel Mitchell
Ian Gibbins
Christopher T Brame
Igor Goldkind
Frederic Iriarte
Lefifi Tladi
Igor Boyko
Ian Gibbons
Susanna Peremartoni
Tony Vacca
Chris Vannoy
Bengt O Björklund
Virginia Shreve
Paul Richmond
Carlos Raul Dufflar
Marino Zappellini
Juan Carlos Jimenez Borges
Marque Gilmore aka Inna.most
Santiago Jimenez
Rodrigo Passannanti aka Hypercube London

Thursday, September 3, 2020

2020 National Beat Poetry Festival - September 4/5/6 - Online - Day One Schedule

I am thrilled to be part of the National Beat Poetry Festival again this year. It happens every Labor Day weekend and features poets from around the world, usually all meeting in person in Connecticut. But this year, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the festival is happening online.

The legendary Anne Waldman and David Amram will be this year's special guests.

Our hosts will be Debbie Tosun Kilday and Shaw Israel Izikson.

Watch on the National Beat Poetry Foundation's YouTube channel and Facebook.

Here's just the first day's tentative schedule (I'll share the schedules for days two and three in a future post):

Day One - Friday 4 September 2020 - 1 to 4 pm Eastern
featuring 27 Past Awarded NBPF Beat Poets Laureate

1:00-1:05pm EST
Debbie Tosun Kilday introduces the start of the festival
• Host Shaw Israel Izikson

1:05-1:10pm EST
George Wallace, Long Island, 1st US National Beat Poet Laureate (2015-2016)

1:10-1:15pm EST
Chryssa Velissariou, Greece Beat Poet Laureate (2019-Lifetime)
1st International Beat Poet Laureate (2017-2018) - Greece

1:15-1:20pm EST
Bengt O. Bj√∂rklund, Sweden Beat Poet Laureate (2018-Lifetime)

1:20-1:25pm EST
Aprilia Zank, Germany Beat Poet Laureate (2018 - Lifetime)

1:25-1:30pm EST
Daniela Voicu, Romania Beat Poet Laureate (2018-Lifetime)

1:30-1:35pm EST
David K. Leff, New England Beat Poet Laureate (2018-Lifetime)

1:40-1:45pm EST
Kate Lamberg, Long Island, NY Beat Poet Laureate (2019-2021)

1:45-1:50pm EST
William F. DeVault, US National Beat Poet Laureate (2017-2018)

1:50-1:55pm EST
Chris Vannoy, US National Beat Poet Laureate (2018-2019)
San Diego, California Beat Poet Laureate (2017-2019)

1:55-2:00pm EST
Paul Richmond, US National Beat Poet Laureate (2019-2020)
Massachusetts Beat Poet Laureate - 2017-2019

2:00-2:05 EST
Donna Anne Allard, Canada, International Beat Poet Laureate (2019-2020)

2:05-2:10 EST
Ernel Grant, Connecticut Beat Poet Laureate (2017-2019)

2:10-2:15pm EST
Carlo Parcelli, Maryland Beat Poet Laureate (2017-2019)

2:15-2:20pm EST
Daniel McTaggart, West Virginia Beat Poet Laureate (2017-2019)

Intermission (5 Minutes)

2:25-2:30pm EST
Debbie Tosun Kilday welcoming attendees to the 2nd half of the program.

2:30-2:35pm EST
Annie Petrie Sauter, Colorado Beat Poet Laureate (2017-2019)

2:35-2:40pm EST
Viviana Duncan, New York City, NY Beat Poet Laureate (2017-2019)

2:40-2:45pm EST
Ngoma Hill, New York State Beat Poet Laureate (2017-2019)

2:45-2:50pm EST
Darlene Fernandez, (Dee TruePoetry) Connecticut Beat Poet Laureate (2018-2020)

2:50-2:55pm EST
Tammi Truax, Maine Beat Poet Laureate (2018-2020)

2:55-3:00pm EST
Richard Wayne Horton, Massachusetts Beat Poet Laureate (2019-2021)

3:00-3:05pm EST
Lori Desrosiers, US National Beat Poet Laureate (2016-2017)

3:05-3:10pm EST
Ron Whitehead, Kentucky Beat Poet Laureate (2019-2021)

3:10-3:15pm EST
John Burroughs, Ohio Beat Poet Laureate (2019-2021)

3:15-3:20pm EST
Nordette N. Adams, Louisiana Beat Poet Laureate (2019-2021)

3:20-3:25pm EST
William David Sovern, Indiana Beat Poet Laureate (2019-2021)

3:25-3:30pm EST
Barry Graham, Michigan Beat Poet Laureate (2018-2020)

3:30-3:35pm EST
Larry Jaffe, Florida Beat Poet Laureate (2018-2020)


Sunday, August 30, 2020

Nelson Gary reviews Rattle and Numb

Rattle and Numb [2019, Venetian Spider Press]
Cover art by Emma Anderson

Written by Nelson Gary:

Rattle and Numb: Selected and New Poems 1992-2019 by John Burroughs, Ohio State Beat Poet Laureate, is a collection filled with the poet's powerful, pervasive energy. With it, he rebels against conformity to middle-class values while also showing the poet's medals and wounds as a result of that war. After World War II, especially taking the Holocaust into consideration, how poetry could be written at all, let alone with rhymes, was taken into major critical consideration on a moral and an ethical basis. How could the human soul be responsible for so much death and so much inhumane death at that? The very question of the existence of soul after the destruction of civilization, which was World War II, came into question.

On the dust jacket of Burroughs's collection, A.W. Graves writes that he does not like modern poetry much because it is "lifeless and soulless" as well as lacking "originality and intimacy." He goes on to say that he likes Burroughs's work because it is full of what most modern poetry lacks. I wholly agree with Graves about Burroughs's work as it pertains to certain poets today who have no motive, will, or design in depicting the "lifeless and soulless," other than sometimes imitating examples in terms of form (design) of preexisting works, be it under a teacher of a workshop or from the shelves of a library or university bookstore. What makes Burroughs's form lively and soulful is its rhythm, rhyme, and wordplay, which do, at times, come across as comedic, but it is comedic in a layered way that is akin to the moral outrage of Lenny Bruce and his brand of black humor: insightful, disturbing, and heartbreaking, if not tragic, not to mention, of course, funny. Intimacy on the page is created by the conversational tone of even the most philosophically profound poems in Rattle and Numb, and there are more than a decent number of them.

One could make an argument that Burroughs's free verse rhymes are anchored in a unique sense of the variable foot, and this would be an excellent argument, one which I would not deny the validity of, but it is really a surface point, though one necessary to make. One must consider the history and nature of rhyme, excluding off-rhyme, from the assessment. Rhyme has such a long and prolific use that the current value of it is not mainly the sight and sound of it at the end of lines or even in the middle of them, internally. The power of it is in how and why it connects thought, emotion, idea, image, alliteration, and rhythm. While it is much more difficult to make this connection (consistently at the end of lines) in accentual or syllabic verse and maintain intelligibility at the very least, it is difficult to make rhyme work on a technical basis in free verse, especially to do so and be taken at all seriously as a poet. Burroughs, a poet worthy of all taking seriously, makes rhyme work in a unique and visceral way through sheer instinct. I do not know his deeper reasons for doing this, but what it results in is an experience of body and soul, the at times excruciating and at times ecstatic dislocation and connection between them. Bob Dylan said that the best people carry themselves like boxers, and in this highly autobiographical work, this is how John Burroughs carries himself page after page.

Burroughs's style is inordinately powerful, elevating the work to a higher place than either comedy or tragedy: tragicomedy. His regular form, consisting of wordplay, rhythm, and rhyme, meets what is central to the best of Rattle and Numb's content at times in a discordant way, other times in a harmonious one, but in a way, that is altogether fulfilling to this reader. The centerpiece of this collection is "Identity Crisis." Ultimately, what Burroughs's work shows is the relationship between the one and the other in terms of the one's formation of identity in an in inimitable and memorable way.

* * * * *

Nelson Gary
's works include
XXX (Dance of the Iguana Press), Cinema (Sacred Beverage Press), A Wonderful Life in Our Lives: Sketches of a Honeymoon in Mexico (Low Profile Press), and Twin Volumes (Ethelrod Press). His Pharmacy Psalms and Half-Life Hymns—for Nothing will be published by Rose of Sharon Press in 2021. Gary's poems and prose have been published in numerous journals, magazines, anthologies, and newspapers, including The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry (Thunder's Mouth Press), Los Angeles Times, and Desert Sun. Gary, a former professional tennis player and instructor, was the Sports Editor at the Santa Monica Mirror. He read at Lollapalooza in 1994, had a residency with Ivan Neville's All-Star Band at The Mint, recorded his poetry with Elliott Smith ("Coast to Coast") on the latter's album From a Basement on the Hill. At Heroin Times, his journalism helped thousands, if not millions, of people addicted to opioids and their loved ones find recovery. Gary is a Beyond Baroque Fellow and has facilitated two writing workshops there. He has a bachelor's degree in English from California State University of Northridge and a master's degree in Forensic Psychology from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Friday, August 7, 2020

Sunday 8/9 on Zoom: Awenites presents a reading by John Burroughs

"Doc Janning is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting."

Topic: Awenites featuring John Burroughs
Time: Aug 9, 2020 02:15 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 821 5751 7296
Passcode: 64S42a729R

Questions? Contact the event host, Doc Janning, Poet Laureate of South Euclid, Ohio.

To be notified about their future events, follow Awenites on Facebook.