Friday, September 25, 2009

Feature: John Burroughs Day 6

We come to the close of another exciting, six day feature today. For John's last day we leave you with a few more interview questions from co-editor Christina Brooks as well as a listing of John's latest and greatest creative endeavors. It has been an absolute pleasure featuring you this week, John! Best of luck to you in all the things you do.

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Where do you write most often? And what sort of frame of mind do you feel you do your best writing in? And when do you write? Early in the day or late…. When?

I generally rise about 4:30 a.m. -- partly because of my wife's work schedule and partly because even if she's on vacation, my 3 dogs are accustomed to getting me up then. It sounds awfully early, but perhaps not so much when you consider the fact that I spent close to eleven years in prison, where I grew accustomed to all the lights coming on at 5:30. I like the quiet alone time I generally have only in the morning, and the lingering half-dream state that often comes with it until the chores and more of the day intrude and gradually overtake my focus. As far as where I usually write, the best answer is everywhere. I use my computer, I hand write things in a leather bound journal, I jot poems on napkins or fliers I find wherever I happen to be.... It doesn't matter if I'm at work, in bed, on vacation, at a restaurant or on the toilet. I'd even write while driving if I could do it without wrecking. I write when I'm hungry, angry, inspired, sleepy -- my state of mind is ever changing and pretty much the only thing that stays constant is the fact that I'm writing (or thinking about something I want to write or feel I should be writing). It isn't always poetry -- in fact, most of the time it isn't (except in the loosest sense) -- but the best stuff generally hits me when I have no intention of writing anything special. Like shit, it just happens.

If you were d.a. levy, and alive today… would you do public readings or not? Would you enjoy them? Would you possibly MC your own poetry event or not?

I would definitely do public readings -- even the real d.a. did that, though folks didn't take photos or generally report on the readings unless something extraordinary happened (like Allen Ginsberg in town, or d.a. arrested for using the word "cocksucker" in a poem while minors were present). Yes, he even went to jail because of a reading -- so I don't think he'd be bashful about it if he were still around today. And I can't imagine he didn't enjoy it, at least on some kind of level. MC-ing? I don't know -- doesn't seem like levy's bag. But it's possible. Then again, if I were d.a., I wouldn't be me; so it wouldn't be me who would be being d.a. And who besides d.a. would really know what he'd do? One thing's for certain: he do his damnedest to cover his city with lines. (To me, the Internet is my "city," more than any geographic location -- but that's another subject altogether.)

What are your thoughts on on-line vs. print journals for poetry? Where do you think the future of poetry might lie? (Since you publish in both you have a unique perspective to share.)

I like both and think both are equally valid in their own ways. I find online journals more convenient and inexpensive to make, distribute, subscribe to, track and store. I also like to think of them as more environmentally friendly (no ink, no paper). But I wonder if that last statement's true. What's worse -- grinding up trees to make paper and stamps or burning up electricity to read online? Print journals, on the other hand, look more impressive on a shelf and (at least for now) are easier to sell. Although I see what seems to be an unstoppable trend where online journals become more and more respected and printed books become less and less necessary, I don't believe online publishing will ever totally replace print publishing anymore than great photography will ever replace arts like painting and drawing. Maybe this is my age showing. But though I love a well-conceived and exquisitely executed cyber magazine, if my eyes and hands have their way, they'll almost always opt fo a "real" printed book. Then again, if my computer were a fraction of its current weight and better designed, who knows? I remember a time when I was sure I'd never replace my vinyl records with CDs (or my CDs with mp3s), but I gradually did. So I suppose the only constant in this world is change. But as a poem you featured in a previous installment states, "try telling that / To a dollar bill."

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Here are a few future happenings I'd like to share with everybody:

October 16th (7 pm) at the Morgan Conservatory (1754 E. 47th Street in Cleveland) - The first of two days of Cleveland readings hosted by Burning River ( I will be performing poetry accompanied by 10-string guitar master JJ Haaz. Other featured performers that night include Jane Rosenberg LaForge from New York (we'll be celebrating the release of her new chapbook, After Voices), Michelle Reale from Philadelphia, Bree of Cleveland Heights' Green Panda Press, and Burning River's own Christopher Bowen.

October 17th (7 pm) at Visible Voice Books (1023 Kenilworth Ave. in Cleveland) - Jane, Michelle, Christopher and I will be reading again, as the book launch celebration for After Voices continues. I intend to share completely different material each night. Not sure yet, but I'll probably lean toward old favorites (made fresher with the musical accompaniment) on the 16th and debut mostly never before seen or heard poems on the 17th.

October 20th (7 pm) at Bela Dubby (13321 Madison Ave. in Lakewood) - Lix and Kix (hosted by Dianne Borsenik and me) break the mold! Featured poet Ralph La Charity (from Cincinnati) will weave in and out of an experimental fu@k-the-format get-in-where-you-fit-in poetic open mic free-for-all on the Lix and Kix poetry series' one year anniversary. I believe JJ Haaz will be jamming with us there, too.

November 13th (8:30 pm) - at Borders Books (17200 Royalton Rd. in Strongsville), I'll be the featured reader for the Deep Cleveland Poetry Hour. Come and see how much I can get away with without using banned words.

November 17th (7 pm) - Lix and Kix at Bela Dubby will host three fine featured poets: Mnemosyne editor Jen Pezzo (aka Kerowyn Rose), MoonLit editor (and author of the vanZeno Press collection Emergency Contact) Claire McMahon, and (from Cincinnati) novelist (and author of the West End Press poetry collection Crow Call) Michael Henson. An open mic will follow.

December 15th (7 pm) - In our last regular Lix and Kix at Bela Dubby before we go on a sabbatical of sorts, we will host three more fine featured poets. Heather Ann Schmidt will be here from Michigan to launch her new Crisis Chronicles Press chapbook The Bat's Lovesong: American Haiku. Nin Andrews (author of The Book of Orgasms and much more) will be here from Youngstown. And Cleveland's one and only Ray McNiece will be performing with his Tongue-in-Groove band. An open mic will follow.

After this, Lix and Kix will be stretching, but certainly not sleeping.

January 16th (all day til midnight) - We will be hosting Snoetry: A Winter Wordfest at the Last Wordsmith Book Shoppe ( in the historic town of North East (near Erie), Pennsylvania. The day will begin with an hour of open mic at 1 p.m. then continue with live music and 30 featured poets from five states. We'll try to sprinkle in bits of open mic throughout the day as time permits. Come rain, shine, or blizzard, we'll be there!

Later in 2010 we will be hosting an attempt to bring the World Record for the longest live reading ever to the Cleveland area. Ten days and nights! Details forthcoming....

Oh, and since I mentioned Heather Ann Schmidt's chapbook, I should also mention that Crisis Chronicles Press has poetry collections by Alex Gildzen, Will Northerner, Yahia Lababidi and Kent Brown in the works as well. Keep checking back at for the latest on all of the above, as well as for daily additions of contemporary poetry and literary classics at the Crisis Chronicles Online Library ( I'm also planning a massive website upgrade, time gods willing, sometime in October.

Finally, if you're desperate, you can also follow me on Twitter (
Thanks for featuring my work this week. It's been a distinct honor and pleasure - and I'm proud to be a member of the Mnemosyne family!

Jesus Crisis' Blog:
Crisis Chronicles Online Library:


  1. May the GOD in JESUS richly bless you Jesus Crisis (Crisus) my friend. The world itself is not good enought for you to have but words words is what we need Qoote CharlaX ( i hope no one actually said this) i made it up OH SIR.

  2. Thanks again!

    I see that I goofed in two places. I meant to give my specific Twitter address, which is And also, near the end, when I said "I'm also planning a massive website," I meant a massive website UPGRADE. (lol)

  3. the reading in Strongsville with "no banned words" intrigues me. tho I can't make it, I'd like to hear how that goes. also, wish I had the fortitude to wake early. someone once said it makes a man healthy, stealthy and blind!

  4. Well.. I think d.a.levy would feel a bit challenged by your Strongsville reading then.. I'm sure he'd want to test the system a bit.

    At first when I thought of the question about levy I thought he would probably not be one to host a poetry venue or event... but after your response John I'm thinking now that maybe he might. I think he would probably do a reading that would challenge the system in some way. Not sure what that would consist of but I'm sure it would be very forward looking in some way.

    Thank you for featuring for us on Memosyne John... we've enjoyed having you and hope maybe you might do some interview questions for us sometime for one of our future features. We'd like to have your continued involvement in Mnemosyne.. time permitting.

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  6. Jen/Christina,

    Thanks for the week of John Burroughs. Burroughs’ work is always entertaining with a great deal of music, wit and irony mixed into his poems. And, his ball-peened , brass-knuckled, steel-toed, hollowpoint words always hit home.

    Rock & roll & write on,


  7. Bravo, Jen and Chris, on another fine week of intriguing and exciting poetry and interview Q and A! Although I've heard him read many times, and have read his blogs and his postings, this journal presents John and his poetry afresh and anew. You've printed many of my favorite Burroughs poems. (Bravo to you, as well, John.) The interview questions provoked and provided wonderful responses. Keep up the good work, all!

  8. Thanks to all who have been nice enough to leave comments! We appreciate our readers very much!