Thursday, December 31, 2015

My 2015 in the rear view mirror - and a hint of a 2016 preview

I don't have the time or patience to write something really good about a difficult year, so I'm just  gonna share some random stuff from my personal world.

Geri and I completed our 3rd year living in Cleveland.

As stated in my last blog entry, I read 124 books in 2015, most of them short poetry books from Ohio small presses.  In number of titles (but not number of pages), this is the most I've ever read in a year.

I published 15 books via Crisis Chronicles Press in 2015.  You can get the whole bunch (a $100+ value) for $75 . They are:

I co-hosted the almost annual Snoetry: Winter Wordfest in January at the Avalon Hotel in Erie, Pennsylvania.  I served as the primary host of the monthly Monday at Mahall's Poetry & Prose Series in Lakewood, Ohio through August of 2015 before permanently handing off hosting duties to Terry Provost and making up my mind not to host any more events for the near future.  This was far fewer events than I've hosted in any given year since 2008.  And I have no plans to host any in 2016.  But Snoetry will return in 2017.

I gave 15 featured poetry readings in 2015, also fewer than I had in any previous year since 2008. They were:

  • January 24 - Snoetry 5 at the Avalon Hotel (Erie. PA)
  • April 18 - Artomatic 419 festival (Toledo, OH)
  • April 18 - SOUL Collective of Collaborative Arts (Farmington, MI)
  • June 6 - Lake Effect Poetry fundraiser at the Barberton Gallery of Fine Arts (Barberton, OH)
  • June 27 - West Toledo Branch Library (Toledo, OH)
  • August 1 - Expedition: SPACES!!! A Journey of Words, Sights & Sounds (Cleveland)
  • August 4 - Words & Wine at Your Vine or Mine (Painesville, OH)
  • August 8 - SOUL Community House (Farmington, MI)
  • September 2 - M.J. Arcangelini and friends at the Happy Dog east (Cleveland)
  • September 19 - accompanied by trumpeter Étienne Massicotte during BeatStreet Cleveland at the Barking Spider (Cleveland)
  • October 1 - Literary Cafe (Cleveland)
  • October 15 - Third Thursday poetry at the Root Cafe (Cuyahoga  Falls, OH)
  • October 23 - accompanied by trumpeter Étienne Massicotte at Severance Hall (Cleveland)
  • November 7 - Ultimate Artist Extravaganza at SOUL (Farmington, MI)
  • November 21 - Soul Speak at the Lorain Arts Council (Lorain, OH)

And I represented Crisis Chronicles Press at four other events in 2015:

  • March 7 - Indie Author Conference & Showcase at the Cuyahoga County Public Library, Parma-Snow Branch (Parma, OH)
  • May 13 - Hessler Street Fair Poetry Competition at Ensemble Theatre (Cleveland Heights, OH)
  • October 31 - Poet's Haven Halloween Jubilee (Massillon, OH)
  • November 7 - Meet the Presses at Sanger Branch Library (Toledo, OH)

I competed in one poetry slam this year and ended up winning a slot on Lake Effect Poetry's 2015 Rustbelt Regional slam team (and a trip to Rockford, Illinois to compete).  However....

Sadly, due to serious family health issues, I had to cancel plans to participate in an unprecedented 5 events in 2015.  They were:

AWP in Minneapolis, MN
Rustbelt Regional Poetry Slam in Rockford, IL
April 28 reading at Sips Coffee House in Mount Vernon, OH
June 12 book release at PACA in Erie, PA
July 28 Mad Sing You 3 poetry/music fest in Cleveland

So I've still never been west of Indiana.  But maybe I'll make it in 2016, when I have only 12 events scheduled (one of them is in Kansas City).  My 2016 events (so far) will be:

  • February 27 - John Burroughs, Dianne Borsenik, Jason Ryberg, Shawn Pavey and Jameson Bayles at Mac's Backs in Cleveland Heights, OH
  • February 28 - John Burroughs, Dianne Borsenik, Jason Ryberg, Shawn Pavey and Jameson Bayles at Guide to Kulchur in Cleveland, OH
  • March 21 - John Burroughs & Mindi Kirchner-Greenway at Cultured Coffee & Waffles in Canton, OH
  • April 8 - Burroughs, Christine Howey, Dan Smith & Leonard Kress for the Kozo Reading Series at the Morgan Conservatory  in Cleveland, OH
  • April 15-17 - Poets from across the country at Prospero's Books in Kansas City, MO
  • April 21 - Burroughs, Theresa Gottl Brightman, Mary Turzillo and musical guest Zaqi for Stark Knights at Buzzbin Art & Music in Canton, OH
  • April 27 - Poetry at the Lorain Arts Council in Lorain, OH
  • May 4 - Burroughs, Borsenik  and Matthew Minicucci at Suzie's Dogs & Drafts in Youngstown, OH
  • May 7 - Hessler Street Fair Poetry Anthology/Contest reading at the Barking Spider in Cleveland, OH
  • September 6 - Words and Wine featuring John Burroughs at Your Vine or Mine in Painesville, OH 
  • October 14-15 - Indie Lit Fest at Frostburg State University in Frostburg, MD
  • December 17 - George Wallace, Russ Green, Dianne Borsenik and John Burroughs at Classic Lines in Pittsburgh, PA

The aforementioned family health problems led to a lot of time spent in hospitals and doctor's offices, which helps explain why I was able to read 124 books and still fell behind on my Crisis Chronicles Press publishing commitments.

My wife retired from working this year, so I picked up more odd jobs ranging from freelance book editing to landscaping and deck painting.  My great Aunt Macel died at age 91 and great nephew Lucas Meinke died at age 2 and a half months.  And my car went a whole calendar year without being hit or getting into an accident.

I've started out each of the past several  years with a wish and intention to get caught up on Crisis Chronicles publishing commitments, only to find by the end of each year that my plan was more ambitious than the unanticipated twists and turns of life would allow.  In 2012 I planned to publish 24 titles and only published 18.  In 2013, I planned on 24 and only published 14.  In 2014 I planned on 24 and only got out 11.  And this year (2015) I came up with what I thought was a better-than-ever plan to publish 24 books, but still ended up publishing only 15.  So I've fallen further and further behind. 

You'd think I'd learn my lesson after this.  But I'm also slowly and steadily catching up, and I still have 24 books in the queue that I'm committed to (and excited about) publishing.  So here I am again planning to release two dozen books in 2016.  They include the long-awaited Oct Tongue 2, the 2016 Hessler Street Fair Poetry Anthology, and books by Alinda Wasner, Meg Harris, Heather Ann Schmidt, Austin Roye, Helen Shepard, Christopher Franke, Juliet Cook, Richard O'Donnell, Azriel Johnson, William Merricle, Christopher Willard, Carolyn Srygley-Moore, John Greiner, Lisa Cihlar, Jennifer MacBain-Stephens, Luba Gawur, Elliot Nicely, Michael Estabrook, Lana Bella, Christopher Mulrooney, Dion Farquhar, Steven B. Smith, and Chansonette Buck.  The fact that I'm hosting no events and giving far fewer featured readings this year than usual should help.  I plan to post a tentative Crisis Chronicles Press publication schedule soon.

But what about my own poetry?  Well, I haven't written a whole lot this year, and I submitted even less, but I did get a few things published.

My latest chapbook, Beat Attitude, was released on my 49th birthday (September 17) by NightBallet Press.  The editor nominated my poem "In Due Season" from it for a Pushcart Prize.

My writing has also appeared in the following 2015 publications:

Still, 2015 was about a whole lot more than all that for me.  And 2016 will be about a lot more too.  But I've gone on long enough for one year.  Time to turn a few pages....

[Please note: my list of 2016 events was updated on 5 March 2016 to reflect additional gigs I've scheduled.]

Monday, December 28, 2015

Breakdown of books I read in 2015

In 2014, I read 75 books, which at the time tied 1994 for the year I read the most books.  This year, I planned to exceed that by reading 100, which I knew was attainable because I planned to read smaller books.  Well, by the end of 2015 I will have finished reading 124.  Of course I've read more than that. But the 124 does not include books that I abandoned in midstream or am still somewhere in the middle of reading.  

In the past, I read a lot more in different genres.  But recently, and especially in 2015, I have focused more on poetry, especially by small presses, and much of it local.  I find myself curious as to how it breaks down, so here are a few statistics on this year's finished books.

110 were print books
14 were e-books

115 were poetry books
9 were other genres

114 were published by small presses
10 were by big presses

73 were published in Ohio:
30 by NightBallet Press
14 by Crisis Chronicles Press
5 by Writing Knights Press
4 by Blood Pudding Press
4 by The Poet's Haven
1 or 2 each (16 in all) by other Ohio presses

56 were written either a) by Ohioans (loosely defined) or b) by multiple authors including Ohioans prominently

50 were published in 2015
18 were published in 2014
56 were published in earlier years

69 were written by men
43 were written by women
12 were collaborative works by both men and women

The last statistics surprised me, because I was fairly certain I read at least as many books by women as by men.

I'm sleepy, and tired or counting, so I guess that's enough for now.  You can check out the full list of books I finished in 2015 at Goodreads, if you wish.

Meanwhile,  I still have stacks and stacks of books I want to read and haven't yet.  So let's keep reading!  And I'll be back soon.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Showing My Behind

Good morning!  So what's up with me since my last blog entry?  Well, it seems I'm finally 99% over the bout of bronchitis that had me down for over a month. This week I got to see a lot of family members I hadn't seen in over a year and I returned to the church that was a big part of my youth for the first time in over twenty years.  Alas, both were during the visitation and funeral for my niece's two-and-a-half-month old baby boy, Lucas

I finally got my troublesome printer working properly, while my old Toshiba laptop finally died. I've had that computer since January 2009.  My phone died, too, but came back to life after I blew canned air into it.  Now I'm trying to catch up on a million things.  Actually, I feel like I've been in a constant state of catching up since about 2009.  And a large part of that has had to do with my Crisis Chronicles Press.

I've made progress toward catching up in 2015, publishing 15 titles so far (plus one more coming by the end of December), but not the 24 titles I had hoped when the year began and before life intervened in numerous ways (as it does every year).  That leaves me with another 27 titles I'm committed to publishing. So I will aim to put out two or three a month in 2016 and be caught up by the end of the year.

You probably wonder why I committed to so many books.  Well, I did so quite some time ago when I had seemingly endless time and energy and good health and resources, before my wife got ill and retired early and needed more help and before I needed to do more money-making work and less art-making work.  But I love these books so much I could not pass them up, and I look forward to getting them out in the coming year. 

Thank you for your friendship and support through it all!

Peace, love and poetry,

Saturday, December 12, 2015

No Snoetry in 2016

Because of other priorities that must take precedence this winter, Dianne Borsenik and I have decided that Snoetry: A Winter Wordfest will not happen in 2016. (You may recall we also skipped 2012). It was a hard decision to make. But we look forward to resuming in early 2017. Hopefully we'll have an exciting announcement to make on that front in two or three months.

Snoetry is a Lix and Kix Poetry Extravaganza production, sometimes in conjunction with other partners.

Snoetry Wordfests past:

2010: Last Wordsmith Book Shop in North East, PA

2011: Jim's Coffeehouse & Diner in Elyria, OH
2013: Poets' Hall in Erie, PA
2014: Guide To Kulchur: Text, Art, and News in Cleveland, OH
2015: The Avalon Hotel & Conference Center in Erie, PA
2017: to be announced

Friday, December 4, 2015

Cold, Cold, Art

15 titles Crisis Chronicles has published so far in 2015
I first started feeling like I was getting sick on November 5th.  The next day, though Geri and I had tickets to see Sun Ra Arkestra, I was coughing so badly we decided to stay home.  On the morning of the 7th, feeling slightly better, thinking it was just a quickie cold, and not wanting to cancel on another poetry event this year, I medicated myself, loaded my pockets with cough drops, and somehow made it through Meet the Presses in Toledo and the Ultimate Artist Extravaganza in Detroit.  I got home at 3 a.m. after that and within 24 hours was feeling much worse.

Two weeks later, my cough was still going, more intense, and Geri was concerned I had pneumonia, so I let myself get talked into going to the doctor on the 18th.  The doc said it didn't sound like pneumonia and was most likely bronchitis.  She started me on a 10-day course of antibiotics and some codeine-infused cough syrup to help me sleep without coughing.  Between those and Mucinex I began to cough up so much stuff that I couldn't believe there was that much down there.  I felt like it was working, and I was assured that by this point I probably wasn't contagious anymore, so I medicated myself and went ahead and performed during Soul Speak at the Lorain Arts Council.  But I only shared three poems because I was sure if I read another I'd go off on another hard-to-stop coughing jag.

By the end of November I had completed my antibiotics and thought the worst was behind me though I was still coughing constantly.  I'd wake up every morning and feel improved.  But by each afternoon, I'd be coughing away again.  Then I developed an excruciating pain in my side.  It felt like kidney stones, but wasn't in the same place my last case of stones was.  After a few days it didn't get better, and I could hardly concentrate on work because of the pain, and we still weren't sure I didn't have pneumonia, so I went back to the doctor on December 2nd.  She wasn't sure what the cause was.  Pneumonia was a possibility.  Or maybe I cracked a rib or pulled something coughing, or it was my liver.  She sent me for a chest x-ray and abdominal ultrasound.

Good news: the x-ray and ultrasound are normal, so the doctor believes it's just a muscular issue caused by the coughing.  When I quit coughing it should soon go away.  Meanwhile, I'm still coughing, but not as intensely and uncontrollably as I was.  My nose is still plugged up and I can only sit in my office chair for so long before the pain in my side becomes unbearable again (it eases up a bit when I stand or lie down).  Meanwhile, December 5th will mark exactly one month since this started.

However, though I'm working in slow motion I did get two Crisis Chronicles Press chapbooks published in November.  It wasn't the four I intended.  But I expect to get at least two more published in December. Wish me luck. 

P.S.  From now until Christmas you can get a sweet deal on all 15 books pictured above. $75 for the lot.  They are:

CC058 - Poems for Explosion by John G Hall
CC059 - Ohio Triangle by Alex Gildzen
CC063 - #ThisIsCLE: An Anthology of the 2014 Best Cleveland Poem Competition
CC064 - Be Closer for My Burn by Robin Wyatt Dunn
CC065 - Cutting the Möbius by Jonathan Thorn
CC066 - Thunderclap Amen by Dianne Borsenik
CC067 - Bookmobile: From the Library of Jesus Crisis by David S Pointer
CC068 - Balefire by Susan Sheppard
CC069 - 2015 Hessler Street Fair Poetry Anthology
CC070 - Matilda's Battle Waltz by Tracie Morell
CC071 - Readings / The Road: Two Poems from Euclid Creek Book Three by Michael Ceraolo
CC072 - Ghost on the Inside by John Dorsey
CC073 - Contents Under Pressure by Kevin Ridgeway
CC074 - Drink Drank Drunk by Bradford Middleton
CC075 - This Frankenstein Union by Esteban Colon

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Crisis Chronicles Press publishes This Frankenstein Union by Esteban Colon

Crisis Chronicles Press is thrilled to announce the publication of Esteban Colon's latest poetry chapbook, This Frankenstein Union,  on 30 November 2015. It is the latest release in our Ninesense series of 9-poem chapbooks by writers you ought to know.

Colon's work is dark, funny, sexy, heavy in all the right places and unflinchingly truthful. This cycle of poems pulls love and passion through seductive fire. Come close, get hot, combust, and then remember it warmly.

Where do you want it?

This Frankenstein Union is 16 pages, hand assembled and saddle stapled, 8.5 x 5.5", laser printed on white pages with kelly green card stock endpapers wrapped in white cover stock. Front artwork by Kevin Eberhardt. ISBN 978-1-940996-27-1. Limited edition of 99 copies, each available for a mere $4.99.

Esteban Colon is a Pushcart nominated writer and experiential educator from Kenosha. His work has found print in a variety of journals and anthologies. He is also the author of chapbooks Edgar Avenue (Naked Mannequin Press) and Between Blue Lines (Exact Change Press), along with his full length collection Things I Learned the Hard Way (Plain View Press).