In the past few months, I've taken my teaching on the road -- visiting CMSD's Campus International School (CIS), where my kids go to school, and teaching poetry and personal narrative writing; teaching an after-school creative writing program at CIS; and visiting classrooms and meeting with Davey Fellows at University School, my high school alma mater, to read poems from my book How to Live in Ruins and discuss solutions to urban redevelopment and social inequality in Cleveland.
It's been fun to be working with K-12 students again, for a few reasons. First, creative writing programs are the perfect complement to the skills-based education kids are getting all day (though CIS has exemplary art programs) and not all schools can offer them. Second, when kids get into it, they get really into it -- after I taught at lesson in my daughter Emily's class and had the kids write poems based on the children's classic "Bleezer's Ice Cream," they made the above poster for me. (I love the fact that the Y stands for "You create the rules." Some of the comments include "Thank you for teaching us poetry and making us like it" (making?) and "Thank you for the amazing poetry class, it was the best when we made our own poems.") And finally, it's meaningful to see kids get in the zone, especially when we're so distracted and scheduled we often don't have time for deep thinking and learning.
Thanks for the teachers at CIS who helped me and to Jim Garrett at University School. Below are photos from my visit with Davey Fellows.
State and Local Officials Provided Millions of Dollars in Subsidy to Amazon for Jobs that Would Have Come Here ANyway
Click here to read the article in FreshWater.
In the past year, I've been working on a collection of songs I'm calling "Time Won't Wait." They're a mix of poems that I've adapted and songs written as songs. The narrative thread that runs through the collection is the passage of time, from childhood to adulthood. It's about seeking moments that make time slow down in a busy, frenetic world, about how time changes your life perspective, and about how time takes its toll on Cleveland neighborhoods.
I'll be performing these songs, as well as a few classic covers, with some fabulously talented musicians -- Jen O'Leary on vocals, Aidan Plank on bass and Dan Bruce on guitar with special guest Ariel Karas on violin -- on Sunday, October 13th at 8 pm at the Happy Dog (W. 58th and Detroit Ave.). The cover is $5 and thanks to Brian Straw we'll be recording the gig. Afterwards, I'll put some songs on the site. Come be part of history! Ha, ha.
In the past few years, I have to admit that I've wrestled with my own interest in songwriting and music ... How does it fit in with my interest in writing? Can I be both a singer-songwriter and a poet/journalist/nonfiction writer at once? It certainly helps to work with great musicians that help me get better ... I think that's the trick, in the end, to find a community.
Who are the Bad Garfunkels? In my mind, it's me, Jen and whoever else decides to show up, ha, ha. Several years ago, Jen and I were playing together and we missed a vocal or harmony or something, and she said, "Sorry, I was a bad Garfunkel there." It stuck, and in my head that's always been our group name.
My essay, "Out and Back Again," which was published in Cleveland Magazine's Aug. 2019 issue, is now featured online on their home page here.
It's a struggle for many parents to get their kids out of the house, off screens and into nature. Especially living in the city, where there are safety issues and there aren't as many green spaces.
Katherine and I have perfected our method: lying. When we go to the Cuyahoga Valley, we call it a trip. An adventure. A walk with ice cream at the end of it. Anything but a hike, no, not that!
I'm continually amazed at how beautiful and secluded the Valley can feel once you're in it, and so close to the city. Sure, the highway sounds linger, but it's 30 mins. away ...
On Saturday, Sept. 21st from 12-1 pm, I'll be at Cleveland Public Library's main branch to explore and discuss place-based writing with local writer Damien Ware. We will read from our works and share our experiences living in and writing about Cleveland. Copies of my books How to Live in Ruins and The Shape of Home will be for sale along with Damien's recent works.
Click here for more info.
On Sunday, Aug. 25, the Cleveland Cultural Gardens will celebrate the 74th annual One World Day, a festival highlighting the 32 different cultures worldwide that are represented in the gardens as well as the 100-plus nationalities residing in Northeast Ohio.
The event will be a milestone for the cultural gardens, a completely unique entity that only exists in Cleveland, says Lori Ashyk, executive director of the Cleveland Cultural Gardens Federation. “I think it’s going to be bigger and better than ever and will help further our mission of peace through mutual understanding,” she says.
Read the full story in FreshWater Cleveland here.
"A decade after Ohio City leaders began trying to capitalize on the success of West 25th St. by luring new businesses to Lorain Avenue, local entrepreneurs are moving to this funky west side main street to take advantage of affordable rents and a newly emerging restaurant, retail, and nightlife scene."
Read the full story in FreshWater Cleveland here.
Cleveland Needs More than Painted Bike Lanes to create Safe Streets for Pedestrians and Cyclists. Is Vision Zero the Answer?
Read the full story in Cleveland Scene here. Cleveland.com covered protected bike lanes a few weeks later in this story.