Nov 24, 2015

Poetry for a Cause

This from Stacy Savage on Facebook:

Is that's time.... time to announce the winner. I received the least amount of entries I have ever received for any of my contests. However, $58 was raised and two complete Thanksgiving meals, were bought, including milk, for two families. The meals were given to the families and they were very thankful. Tina Scott also donated a few items for the meals. Thank you, Tina! 

Below is a pic of one of the two meals that were given to the families. Also below is the winning poem, "Oh, Funny Owl" by Andrea Dietrich. The poem is funny and made me smile. Three Cheers for Andrea!
There were many great poems and two othere I just have to mention. They were really, really good. 
Those poems were "Two Months after Movng to Apartment #8" by Kelli Hayden and "Hip, Hip, Hooray!" by Kathy Chaffin Gerstorff,
Thanks to everyone who entered. Have a Happy Thanksgiving!
Oh, Funny Owl
by Andrea Dietrich
Oh, funny night owl; I relate
to you. I also stay up late!
My eyes, like yours, are mellow green
and staring too, but at a screen.
I stare at E-mails and TV
until I know that finally
I must retire myself to bed
and rest my weary night owl head.
I feel so rotten when I wake
I have to do a double take.
I see the clock. It's eight a.m.
I sit up grumbling, "Darn, oh, Darn."
Then brimming with new morning cheer,
I drag myself before the mirror.
And what I see upon my face
are little lines I can't erase.
Oh, funny night owl. We're not wise
with circles underneath our eyes!
And now I get to look like hell
because I love the night so well.

Nov 16, 2015

Shari Wagner is the new Indiana poet laureate

The Indiana Arts Commission sent out a letter Nov. 13 announcing Shari Wagner's selection as Indiana's next poet laureate beginning January.

For information about Shari, click here.

Shari Wagner

Nov 10, 2015

Calendar of events

Disclaimers, denials, and definitions: This calendar is for events in central Indiana. Please confirm events using the contact info before traveling. Not responsible for canceled or discontinued events. All listings are in Indianapolis, unless otherwise noted. Bookmark this page, which will update periodically.

To submit: To list your poetry event, email JL Kato at Write "Poetry event" in the subject line and leave a phone number or email address for follow-up. Allow four weeks for submitted items to appear. And please send updates of cancellations, postponements or new information.

Corrections and comments: Send to the email listed above.

Ongoing events and permanent displays:

Calls for submissions to local journals and contests:

Last updated 11/16/15. 

Monday, Nov. 16

CANCELED UNTIL DECEMBER: 5 p.m. Poetry Lab at Central Library, 40 E. St. Clair St. Prompts and writing exercises. Meets weekly in Room 311. Moderator: Penny Dunning. Check her Facebook page for cancellation notices.

7:30 p.m. Dean Young in Robertson Hall, Butler University, 4600 Sunset Ave. Part of the Vivian S. Delbrook Visiting Writers Series. Free.

Tuesday, Nov. 17

2 p.m.-4 p.m. Calvin Fletcher's Coffee Co., 647 Virginia Ave. Poets meet for informal conversation and structured critiques. Free. Meets every Tuesday. Info: JL or 317-938-7026.

2 p.m.-3:30p.m. Mac Greene will read his poetry at First Friends Meeting, 3030 E. Kessler Blvd. He will be reading from his two chapbooks, All Around, Nowhere to be Seen and The Oldest Guy on a Painted Pony, as well as teaching a little bit about modern haiku.  Free.

6:30 p.m. Noble Poets meet every third Tuesday of the month at Noble Tea and Coffee, 933 Logan St., Noblesville. Info: Sarah E. Morin at

8 p.m. Poetry Salon at Indiana Writers Center, 812 E. 67th St. Conversation and critiques. Free. Meets every first and third Tuesday of the month. Info: Richard Pflum, or 317-356-2048.

Wednesday, Nov. 18

5 p.m.-9 p.m. The Spoken Word Wednesday Workshop and Open Mic. Meets every first and third Wednesday of the month at Unity of Indianapolis, 907 N. Delaware St. Doors open at 5 p.m. $5.

Thursday, Nov. 19

7:30 p.m. Poetry and Prose Night at Tater and Joe's CafĂ©, 423 Wabash Ave., Terre Haute. Open mic. five minutes per slot. Free.  Advance sign-up encouraged. Contact Zann Carter at or 812-236-2841. Meets every third Thursday of the month.

8 p.m. Open Mic Night at Books and Brews, 9402 Uptown Drive, Suite 1400. Poets are welcome to share the mic with other performers. Information: (317) 288-5136. Every Thursday.

Friday, Nov. 20

Today is Chi Sherman's birthday.

7 p.m. Poems for the People will feature guest poets, an pen mic, and a poetry slam the Garfield Eatery and Coffee, 2627 Shelby St. Featured poets include Billy Tuggle, Will Gibson, Corey Ewing, Tajana Rebelle, Chantelle Massey, Jason AMmerman, Michael Bauman. Also appearing is comedian Evanne Offenbacker  Host: Greggory DeBoor. Free. Events occur the first and third Fridays of etach month. 

Saturday, Nov. 21

Noon-4 p.m. Fall Fest 2015 in Clowes Auditorium at Central Library, 40 E. St. Clair St., features Nikki Giovanni (2:10 p.m.). Also on the program will be 10 selected teens of the Slammin' Rhymes Challenge X. The Brave Youth Society will also provide a poetry reading (1:55 p.m.).

CANCELED BECAUSE OF ART FAIR: 2 p.m.-4 p.m. The Garfield Poetry Circle meets at the Garfield Park Art Center, 2432 Conservatory Drive.  Readings and discussions. Bring poems you are trying to finish for comments. Free. Meets every third Saturday of the month. Info: Mary

Monday, Nov. 23

Today is Dan Carpenter's birthday.

CANCELED UNTIL DECEMBER: 5 p.m. Poetry Lab at Central Library, 40 E. St. Clair St. Prompts and writing exercises. Meets weekly in Room 311. Moderator: Penny Dunning. Check her Facebook page for cancellation notices.

6:30 p.m. Poetry Discussion Group at Beech Grove Public Library, 1102 Main St., Beech Grove. Discussion topics are "Enter the Void," by U.S. Poet Laureate Felipe Herrara, and the song lyric for "Possum Kingdom," by The Toadies. Info: 317-788-4203.

Nov 2, 2015

Project 411 poems unveiled

Indiana Poet Laureate George Kalamaras reveals the two poems he created by using lines submitted for the project. He also explains how he created the poems.

Embracing the Marvelous: An Introduction to Project 411

Nearly two years ago when I began my term as Indiana Poet Laureate, I set for myself the central goal, through a variety of activities, of bringing together the diverse voices of poets throughout the state. Because the writing of poetry is most often a solitary activity, that sense of solitude can often permeate a poet’s consciousness. Solitude, of course, is good. It allows one to enter into a deeper relationship with one’s core. Isolation, on the other hand, can turn the experience of the self into one of solipsism. As I have said repeatedly during the last two years, “poetry is utterly about community.” How and in what way that sense of community is expressed is, of course, one’s choice, but we’d do well to remember that our thoughts and language are shaped in social contexts. If we are fortunate enough to take up poetry as a vocation, then it is important to see ourselves as interwoven with our fellows, as well as with the animals and plants and rocks—even the galaxies.
I established The Wabash Watershed: Where the Rivers of Tradition Meet the Rivers of Innovation as not only a site in which various poets in Indiana could be brought together but also as a key metaphor for our shared enterprise. As I mentioned in my introduction to the website, “The Wabash River is a central image in the mythos of our great state. As a river it has always intrigued me, in part because it flows freely for a great distance. . .” That distance is 411 miles, before it is dammed.

Oct 29, 2015

NUVO feature on Adrian Matejka

The All-Encompassing Poetry of Adrian Matejka 

From Rap poetics and Jack Johnson to the Indy skyline

So I was driving to work a few weeks ago and WFYI’s public affairs program No Limits was on the radio. But the topic being discussed this time around was, let’s just say, more poetry than public affairs.

The author being interviewed was Adrian Matejka, born in Nuremberg, Germany, who’s spent half his life in the Hoosier state. Matejka was being interviewed because he’s the Regional Author winner of the 2015 Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana Author Award. A graduate of Indiana University Bloomington, he’s now the Lilly Professor / Poet-in-Residence at his alma mater. In that capacity, he teaches a course each fall in rap poetics. He can talk to you about the rap stylings of Chuck D and Rakim but he can also talk to you about the sonnet structures of Charles Baudelaire.

Matejka’s also a huge boxing fan, which certainly has something to do with his choice of subject matter for The Big Smoke, his third book of poems, which was nominated for the National Book Award in 2013. It’s about the life of turn-of-the-twentieth-century heavyweight boxing champion Jack Johnson. Matejka’s also hard at work on a graphic novel about Johnson.

When I pulled into the parking lot, I had already made up my mind to talk to Matejka. I got my chance last Tuesday when we had an hour-long conversation by phone.

NUVO: What about Jack Johnson, the boxer and the man, spoke to you? 

Matejka: What got me interested in Jack Johnson is that he’s a quintessentially America figure. He’s a self-made man. He was self-educated; his parents were slaves. He came from as nothing as you can have to become the most famous athlete in the world. Everyone knew who Jack Johnson was when he was alive. So to be able to that seems very American to me... But at the same time, he’s doing this in the face of the most intense racism imaginable. Somebody could have killed him and nobody would have blinked about it. And a lot of people wanted to kill him because here was this black man with all this money. He’s bold. He wears all these nice clothes. He’s out there traveling the world and that’s not supposed to be in Jim Crow America. So I was really interested in how someone like that, someone who was had such magnetism, who was such an outsized figure could exist in turn of the twentieth century…

NUVO: I heard you on WFYI’s No Limits a couple of weeks ago. You were talking about a new book of poems about Indianapolis. 

Matejka: Indianapolis is in my new book called Collectable Blacks... It’ll be out in April of 2017… It’s funny. I spent so much time thinking about Jack Johnson’s story. I spent so much time thinking about how to craft it and how to make a contemporary narrative out of it that when I went back and tried to write my own poems, all of a sudden, place mattered in a way that it hadn’t mattered to me. Writing about Jack Johnson and thinking about geography, the geography that he existed in, made me think of my own geography.

NUVO: I read a poem of yours entitled “& Later” after a painting by Basquiat and you have in it a great line; “Indianapolis’s three-skyscrapered smile.” Does that relate to a particular memory of yours, growing up in Indianapolis? 

Matejka: That’s in the new book. There’s a series of poems that respond to Basquiat’s paintings in the book. And yeah. I used to live in Carriage House East, way out of Mitthoeffer and 42nd street and it was a neighborhood that was severely lacking in resources. Just a busted up basketball court and that kind of thing. But when you could see the skyline, when you could Indianapolis from a distance it was just these three skyscrapers. That’s all you could see from out there. And then when we moved out to Pike Township there were like five skyscrapers that you could see from that angle. Pike was really affluent: we got to see more of it from out there. There’s no way that was intentional. It’s just kind of funny how those kind of things work out.

NUVO: What got you interested in poetry in the first place?

Matejka: Well, I wanted to be a rapper. In the mid-80s, my buddy Che and I were like this little rap group. And we’d record ourselves on these little tape decks. And we were really bad at it. So I had this idea that I wanted to work with language… And when I realized that my career as an emcee was never going to take off, I was casting about for other opportunities for self-expression. And then I got a chance to hear [poet] Yusef Komunyakaa read and that was it. Whatever he’s doing, I want to do that. And so that was kind of the beginning of it for me.

Reading: Alyce Miller & Adrian Matejka
Nov. 4, 7 p.m.
The Back Door
207 S College Ave. Bloomington

Oct 26, 2015

The Freeman has a new poetry editor: Sarah Skwire

The following is a note from Sarah Skwire:

Writerly types!
I am now going to be handling poetry submissions for the good folks at the Freeman. That means you know the poetry editor! Send me good stuff--liberty related or not. I like formal verse and free verse. I like elegant and exciting use of language.
The things I want to read do what e.e.cummings said here:
"At least my theory of technique, if I have one, is very far from original; nor is it complicated. I can express it in fifteen words, by quoting The Eternal Question And Immortal Answer. of burlesk, viz., 'Would you hit a woman with a child?-No, I'd hit her with a brick.' Like the burlesk comedian, I am abnormally fond of that precision which creates movement."
Accepted poems get $50, publication online, and possible inclusion in the print quarterly. If you're included in the print version, we'll send you a copy of the issue in which your poem appears.
Submissions should go to:
Full submission guidelines are available here. Ignore them at your peril:

Local calls for submissions

To include your local call for submissions to publications, contests, etc., send the information to Write "Poetry" in the subject heading. Allow up to four weeks for your notice to appear.

You may bookmark this page to check for updates.

Last updated 10/2/15.


Ongoing / Flying Island

NEW!! Ongoing / The Freeman

Ongoing / Indiana Voice Journal

Ongoing / Punchnel's

Ongoing / Tipton Poetry Journal

New listing! Deadline: Dec. 16 / Poetry for a Cause

Editor Stacy Savage is seeking submissions for the "Three Cheers Poetry Contest." Poems must be 16-24 lines and describe something cheerful. In other words, the editor is seeking poems that bring smiles, whether it be humorous, heartfelt, or just a good ol' happy poem. The contest is open to everyone and there will be $1 per poem entry fee, which will be used to buy Thanksgiving meals for families of Madison County, Indiana. No limit on number of entries submitted. Previously published works are acceptable. 

Send submissions, along with the entry fee and a cover sheet with name, address, email address, and titles of poems submitted, to: 

Three Cheers Poetry Contest 
3121 Mounds Road 
Anderson, Indiana, 46016. 

*Make check payable to: Stacy Savage. 

The winner will receive a copy of the antique book: Poems by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, published in 1859, the winning poem published in an issue of "Lone Stars Poetry Magazine" (Lone Star's email: and a $25 Amazon gift card. 

The deadline for entries is November 16, 2015. The winner will be announced on the Facebook page, Poetry Contests for a Cause, on November 23, 2016.

Deadline: Dec. 3 / Branches

    Theme: Inner Work. Send poems to Info: or (317) 253-7752.

Deadline: Oct. 31 / Slammin' Rhymes Challenge X

Ten young poets (Grades 9-12) are invited to write and perform to the challenge "Still I Rise!" Selected poets will perform at Central Library during Fall Fest 2015 and will receive their awards from Nikki Giovanni. Time limit: three minutes. Selected poets will receive $25 gift cards. Details:

Deadline: Oct. 18 / Indiana Voice Journal

Theme of the November/December issue is "Grace: Encountering God's Presence." Submit poetry to Info: 

Deadline: Oct. 2 / 2015 Art, Poetry and Creative Writing Competition

     Hamilton Center Inc. invites middle through high school students and the general public to participate in the 2015 Art, Poetry and Creative Writing Competition.      Artists and writers from all 10 Hamilton Center counties in Indiana are encouraged to participate. The artwork must be original and created with the theme, "Light the Way," in relation to understanding and accepting mental illness.     The Hamilton-served counties include Clay, Greene, Hendricks, Marion, Owen, Parke, Putnam, Sullivan, Vermillion and Vigo.     All participants will have their artwork or writing displayed at the HCI Annual Dinner at Hulman Center on Oct. 27. The top winner in each category will receive an award package and an invitation to bring a guest to the dinner.
     Entries must be received by Oct. 2 and should include a 2015 Light the Way entry form.        Forms and additional information can be found at or by contacting Stacey Totten at 812-231-8314 or

     Hamilton Center is a community mental health center that provides behavioral healthcare, wellness and human development services.

Oct 25, 2015

Poetry landmarks in central Indiana

Note: All addresses are for Indianapolis, unless otherwise stated.

If you know of a landmark, send its location to and place "Poetry landmark" in the title field. The landmark must be a poetry display or a marker that refers to a poet or his/her accomplishment.

Last updated 9/3/15. New listing in the visual art section.


Crown Hill Cemetery, 700 W. 38th St.: Grave sites of James Whitcomb Riley, Etheridge Knight, Meredith Nicholson, and Sarah T. Bolton. Maps available at main office. 
(317) 925-3800

Museums and Homes

Indiana Humanities, 1500 N. Delaware St., is the home of Meredith Nicholson. Info: (317) 638-1500 or

James Whitcomb Riley Museum Home and Visitor Center, 528 Lockerbie St., Indianapolis, (317) 631-5885. Info:

James Whitcomb Riley Boyhood Home and Museum, 250 W. Main St., Greenfield, (317) 462-8539. Info:

Public Poetry

Cottage Home Neighborhhood features "Cottage Home," by Thomas Alan Orr, in a display at a pocket park on the 700 block of Dorman Street (south of St.Clair St.).

Indianapolis Cultural Trail features seven bus stops designed by architect Donna Sink, with poetry from local residents. The bus stops and their poems are:

  • Virginia Avenue near Woodlawn Avenue (outside of Naisa Pan Asian Restaurant): "The Painters," by Richard Pflum
  • Virginia Avenue near McCarty Street (outside of Chilly Water Brewing Co.): "Invisible Moments," by Karen Kovacik
  • Virginia Avenue near Lexington Avenue (just outside of the Mozzo Apartments): "The Bowl of Possible Peas," by John Sherman
  • Washington Street near the Indiana State Museum and Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art: "Settlement," by Micah Ling
  • Washington Street, west of Illinois Street and the Indianapolis Artsgarden: "Circle, Circle," by Mitchell L.H. Douglas
  • Massachusetts Avenue at Walnut and Park streets: "Art With a Heart," by Vienna Wagner
  • Massachusetts Avenue, east of College Avenue: "Our Street in Endless Circles," by Jenny Brown

  • Poet's Place, on Alabama Street, between Vermont and New York streets, in front of Fresco Italian Sandwich Shoppe, was designated in honor of Jim Shackleford, the Cultural Trail's unofficial poet. "City Generation," by Elizabeth Weber, is displayed here.

Indianapolis International Airport, 7800 Col. H. Weir Cook Memorial Drive, features stained-glass window art by Martin Donlin, which has words and lines of poems from five Indiana writers. (317) 487-9584.

     Along Concourse A are:
  • Night, with poem "Echoes," by Ruthelen Burns
  • Midnight Flight, with poem by Joyce Brinkman
  • Back in Indiana, with poem by Norbert Krapf
     In Concourse B is:
  • Indiana Flight, with poem by Joseph Heithaus
     Note: No information on Jeannie Deeter Smith's poem. No information on Mari Evans poem.


Indianapolis-Marion County Central Library, 40 E. St. Clair St., features Arlon
 Bayliss' artwork using dichronic

 (317) 275-4100.

Terre Haute: Max Erhmann at the Crossroads, by Bill Wolfe, at the intersection of Seventh Street and Wabash Avenue, Terre Haute. Visitors can pose and sit on a bench with Max. Also, excerpts from his most famous poem, "Desiderata," appear on plaques embedded in the plaza. Photos and info:

Word Hunger was a project of Brick Street Poetry to encourage a discussion of food production. Poems and artwork were placed on barns and agricultural buildings throughout the state, Sponsored by Indiana Humanities.
  • Putnam County (near Crawfordsville): Joseph Heithaus' poem "What Grows Here" appears on a barn on West County Road Road 125 South. Painted by Ken Torr.
  • Other site descriptions to come. (See note at bottom.)

Oct 22, 2015

4th Friday Spoken Word event rescheduled to Oct. 30

The following event has been moved back from Friday, Oct. 23, to Friday, Oct. 30, according to host Gregg DeBoor.

7 p.m.-10 p.m. 4th Friday Spoken Word and Open Mic at Coal Yard Coffee, 5547 Bonna Ave. Featured poets include Dante Fratturo, Helen Townsend, and Lisa Devon. Free. Host: Gregory DeBoor. Info: (317) 777-1161. This is the last poetry program before the coffeeshop is closed for construction.

Oct 21, 2015

Venue changes

The Lawrence Art Center, home of the Poets Laureate of Lawrence readings, has moved to 8910 Otis Avenue in the former Fort Benjamin Harrison complex. 

Coal Yard Coffee, home of monthly poetry readings hosted by Greggory DeBoor, will close for construction after its last event Friday, Oct. 30. According to DeBoor, the shop will move farther south at the Ice House complex, 400 block of South Ritter Avenue. According to a barista at the shop, no decision on moving has been made.

A new poetry venue has open at the Garfield Eatery and Coffee, 2627 Shelby St. Greggory DeBoor is hosting two poetry events on the first and third Fridays of the month. Besides featured readers and an open mic, a poetry slam for cash prizes will be offered. Non-poet performers (such as musicians and comedians) will also share the stage.  

Oct 19, 2015

Award for Helen Townsend

Helen Townsend garnered a third-place award in the Poetry Super Highway poetry contest. Read her winning poem here.

Oct 14, 2015

List of contest winners for the ISFPC's 37th Annual Fall Rendezvous

Winners’ List of 37th Annual Fall Rendezvous Poetry Contest Indiana State Federation of Poetry Clubs (ISFPC) ~ October 9 through 11, 2015.

Indiana Authors Award wrap-up

Winners are...

Four authors with Indiana ties have been honored as winners of the 2015 Eugene & Marilyn Glick Indiana Authors Award. Winners were recognized at the Indiana Authors Award Dinner on October 10 at Central Library.
Widely-acclaimed poet and Purdue University Professor of English Marianne Boruch was recognized as the National Author Award Winner. Fellow poet and Pike High School graduate Adrian Matejka was recognized as the Regional Author Award Winner. Short story novelist and Indiana University graduate Clifford Garstang was named Emerging Author Winner. A Lifetime Achievement Honor, only the second ever given to an author who has exemplified great achievement over several decades, was presented to Indianapolis’ Mari Evans, a monumental figure in poetry and education who helped shape women’s history, politics and drama.

Each Indiana Authors Award winner receives a cash prize and can select an Indiana public library to receive a $2,500 grant from The Indianapolis Public Library. Since the Award’s inception in 2009, winning authors have received a total of $157,500, and their designated libraries have received $57,500 in grants.
“The Glick Fund is proud to celebrate these talented authors,” said Marianne Glick, Director at the Eugene & Marilyn Glick Family Foundation. “We hope that the Eugene & Marilyn Glick Indiana Authors Award serves as an inspiration and encouragement for the next generation of Indiana writers.”
Indiana Authors Award nominations were submitted in the spring of 2015, and an eight-member statewide award panel selected the winners. Any published writer born in Indiana or who has lived in Indiana for at least five years was eligible.
Nominations for the 2016 Indiana Authors Award will open on February 1, 2016. To learn more, contact the Library Foundation at (317) 275-4700 or visit

Oct 2, 2015

Friday's musings (Oct. 2,2015)

Because it is October and everything scary, I am waging a one-man campaign to expose the public misspellings of Edgar Allan Poe's name. On my Facebook page, I complained about the Ballet Theatre of Indiana and NUVO Newsweekly, both of whom used "Edgar Allen Poe" recently.


Late notices:

  • I have not come across any information about the schedule for the Rufus and Louise Reiberg Reading Series at IUPUI. Anyone have any information?
  • Also missing is the promised information of the 2016 Max Erhmann Poetry Contest, sponsored by Art Spaces, Inc. in Terre Haute. The organization's website.  promised details in September.

October 7 is Random Acts of Poetry and Art Day. This is a new one on me. Any local events planned? Or should we expect unannounced pop-up events throughout the day?


On Wednesday afternoon, I attended a poetry reading given by Adrian Matejka at the Pike Branch Library, where I became reacquainted with Kyle Craig and Rachel Sahaidachny. 
We were the only "outsiders" to attend. The rest were library staff and Adrian's family. Adrian was gracious, taking time to chat with each of us before reading his persona poems about boxer Jack Johnson,which included vintage videos.

We learned that Adrian was 1990 Pike High School grad who did not write poetry until he took a class at Indiana University (where he now teaches). He moved to Seattle but slowly made his way back to the Midwest. His mother revealed Adrian wrote a book when was 10 years old.

Given the horrible start time (3:30 p.m.) and minuscule publicity, it was a wonder that even we three showed up. But I urge you to grab the next opportunity to hear him.

Oct 1, 2015

Nikki Giovanni highlights Fall Fest 2015

From the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library website:

Nikki Giovanni Headlines Fall Fest 2015!

nikkighiresFamilies and individuals of all ages are invited for an afternoon of inspiration and cultural entertainment during "Fall Fest 2015," on Saturday, November 21 from 12 noon - 4 p.m. at Central Library in the Clowes Auditorium, 40 E. St. Clair Street.

Highlighting the event will be a lecture by world renowned poet, activist and educator Nikki Giovanni (2:10 p.m.). In addition to having her works appear on The New York Times and Los Angeles Times bestseller lists, Giovanni has been awarded an unprecedented seven NAACP Image Awards, nominated for a Grammy and been a finalist for the National Book Award. She is currently a Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech University. Booksignings (3:30 p.m.) will follow the event. Books will be provided by Donna Stokes-Lucas.

The afternoon also will feature the winners of the teen Slammin’ Rhymes Challenge X who will be presented their awards by Nikki Giovanni (2:55 p.m.), as well as performances by North Star Capoeira, a martial art that combines acrobatics and dance with music (12:10 p.m.); the SITEAW Basket Balancing Race, a fun and educational sport that stems from African culture (12:35 p.m.); Indy Air Bears, an electrifying competitive jump rope team (1 p.m.); Krash Krew, an inspirational and edgy dance group (1:25 p.m.); and inspired poetry readings by the Brave Youth Society (1:55 p.m.).

"Fall Fest 2015" is presented by The Indianapolis Public Library's African-American History Committee and is made possible by the Donna D. Talley Story Theatre Fund, the Dr. Michael R. Twyman Endowment Fund, and Friends of the Library through gifts to The Indianapolis Public Library Foundation. Call 275-4099 for more information about this free Library event.

Sep 30, 2015

Slam poetry helps Belzer students stand and be heard

Slam Poetry Is Helping Belzer Students Stand And Be Heard

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Slam Poetry Is Helping Belzer Students Stand And Be Heard
INDIANAPOLIS -- Trust, respect, friendship and Slam Poetry have found a home in a Belzer Middle School classroom in Lawrence Township. In a short few weeks, 25 students have been transformed into confident speakers of their truths.
Camea Davis is a Belzer language arts teacher and co-founder of Indy Pulse - a slam poetry organization dedicated to creating time and space for kids to express themselves. Slam poetry at Belzer started as a club, but the principal saw the impact it was having and asked Davis if she would teach it – so it has become an elective.
"Slam poetry is a derivative of traditional poetry but it’s in the vernacular of urban, young people. It’s a style of poetry where people can express themselves in their natural way of speaking and it’s very performative," Davis said. "Regular poetry is meant for the page. Slam Poetry is meant for the stage.”
To get ready for the stage, the kids work on performance skills. The class stands in a circle clapping and calling the name of a person across the circle. 
“We’re clapping because when you perform it may be loud – so you have to put your voice across the circle. So what they’re learning is – how to work in a community because there is a rhythm and they have to keep the rhythm in unison," Davis said. "They’re learning performance stance – how do I look and stand in front of a group people. They’re learning voice – how to articulate because they have to say something across the circle. How do I project my voice? How do I say something?”
Davis prompts the poetry writing with questions like what color represents the feeling of your mother? If you were a monster, what would you be? And where do you feel safe?
“I’m always surprised about the honesty...Even today, one student - she’s writing a poem about how she was born a crack baby. And to say that in front of your peers, kids that can very easily make fun of you, and it’s such a vulnerable topic cause it says something about your family and where you live and all that," Davis said. "And I was just like 'wow' and she would just do it – and be confident about doing it. So I’m really excited and surprised and then proud of them for being able to write these stories.”
It's about building trust and the students get it. Davis is small in stature, but highly respected.
“She’s not like every other teacher because, you know, every other teacher is just rude and mean and give you assignments after assignments and stuff like that," eighth grader Antwone Haslett said. "But she’s like, she’ll be your teacher, but she’ll be your friend at the same time. So I think that’s pretty cool.”
DaZhane’ Jones says the Slam Poetry class is the highlight of her day.
“I feel happy ‘cause…as an example today, I wasn’t feeling so well and I was like upset." DaZhane' said. "But when I come here, all my fears and hurt goes away and I can be myself without no judgment.”
Davis says building that trusting culture is her number one priority.
“The first two weeks of school all we’re doing is sharing stories about our lives our families, our likes, our dislikes. And they really get to know each other,” she said.
One by one – Davis’ students step up to the microphone in a performance classroom filled with fellow students and family members. Nathan Terhune’s dystopian sounding poem talks of a man emerging and inspiring people to become poets. 
For Nathan, in real life, Davis plays the role of the man in his poem. 
“If Miss Davis stays here a while she could very well be inspiring a new generation of poets,” he said.
An Indy Pulse Slam Poetry competition will be held at the Indianapolis Museum of Art on Thursday, Nov. 5.

This story is part of WFYI's American Graduate initiative. Tune in Saturday, October 3 to 90.1 FM, and WFYI One (20.1) for a day of education programming that explores efforts to raise the high-school graduation rate and improve student outcomes.

Ross Gay longlisted for National Book Award

Associate professor's poetry selected for national competition


By Bridget Murray

Associate professor Ross Gay was selected for the 2015 National Book Awards Longlist for Poetry. He was selected for his book, “Catalog of Unabashed 
He is one of 10 poets to be selected; the National Book Foundation will announce the finalists Oct. 14.
“I feel lucky to have the book be amongst a really wonderful bunch of poets and books,” Gay said in an email interview.
His other poetry collections include “Against Which” and “Bringing the Shovel Down,” according to a press release.
Gay said “Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude,” published February 2015, stands out because of its 
intimate nature.
“My poetry, in this book, is kind of talky and intimate — like it wants to be your friend and tell you stories and ask questions of itself in front of you,” he said in an email. “It kind of wants to hold its heart in its hands (that is a cliche, enjoy it) in front of you, and say, ‘Check this out!’”
A “zillion” things inspired “Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude,” Gay said, ranging from the free-fruit-for-all Bloomington Community Orchard that he is involved in to an incident in his life involving bird poop.
He said the engine of these poems lies in the ways things can possibly be transformed.
“That’s all to say that the strange and undervalued and sexy and gone and unseen and dreamt ... inspire me,” Gay said in an email.
Gay has also co-authored books, including “River” with Richard Wehrenberg, Jr. and “Lace & Pyrite” with Aimee 
He said he writes poems because they are fun, and yet they allow him to connect to his own deeper thinking.
“It is one of the ways I recognize and articulate and interact with my sorrow,” he said. “And my joy.”
Gay said he uses metaphors in his poetry, which are “magic.”
Anyone who is kind enough to read or listen to Gay’s poetry is his intended audience, he said, and he does not take their 
kindness lightly.
“I cherish it and feel lucky to have any kind of audience,” he said in an email.
He said he hopes these readers take something from his poetry.
“I hope something useful,” he said in an email. “Someone told me they left a reading of mine and smelled flowers for the first time in years. That was pretty good.”
Bridget Murray

Sep 29, 2015

UPDATE: James R. Depp Sr. dies

James R. Depp Sr.
UPDATE: James R. Depp died Sr. Saturday morning, Sept. 26.

A wake for J.R. Depp Sr. will be at South Calvary Missionary Baptist Church, 1146 South Kenwood Avenue, will be from 10 a.m. to noon Friday, Oct. 2, with services following.

Sep 16, 2015

UPDATE: Call for anthology entries to help eagle charity

Editor Stacy Savage is seeking submissions for a short verse poetry contest. Poems can be up to 20 lines and about any subject. No limit on number of entries submitted. Previously published works are acceptable. There is a $1 per poem entry fee. All proceeds will go to As Wings of Eagles, Inc. to help pay for a larger enclosure for the organization’s resident eagle, Belle.
Send submissions, along with the entry fee and a cover sheet with name, address, email address, and titles of poems submitted, to: Short Verse Poetry Contest, 3121 Mounds Road, Anderson, Indiana, 46016.
Make check payable to: Stacy Savage.
The winner will receive a copy of the 1865 antique book: Enoch Arden by Alfred Tennyson, the winning poem published in the online journal, Indiana Voice Journal, and on the poetry blog, Whispers, a 5x7 photo signed by As Wings of Eagles, Inc. of Belle, and $30.
The deadline for entries is August 31, 2015. The contest judges are Stacy Savage and Janine Pickett. The winner will be announced on the Facebook page, Poetry Contests for a Cause, on September 16.

UPDATE from Stacy Savage

It's that time--time to announce the winner of the Short Verse Poetry Contest! The winner is Kay Cheshire for her poem "Contentment". Thank you Janine Pickett, publisher and editor of Indiana Voice Journal, for helping with judging. It was not hard to decide on a winner. We both loved Kay's wonderful poem. Kay shows what a poet can do with their words with this beautiful piece. Following is a short excerpt from her poem that shows her talent and what I am talking about.
"rest in an oak's shadow while butterflies carry away the hurt".
Congratulations Kay! Her poem will be published in a future issue of Indiana Voice Journal and on the popular blog, Whispers.
Not near as many entries were received for this contest as the last contest, but $126 was raised for As Wings of Eagles. I am sure they will be glad to receive that and it will help get them a step closer to building a new enclosure for the bald eagle, Belle. Thank you to all of you who entered and a big thanks to those who sent a donation for As Wings of Eagles. It is truly appreciated!