Bringing poetry down to earth
Inspired by a spoken word series at the Bela Dubby, Southern Ohio native and Mentor resident Azriel Johnson [pictured] decided to start his own poetry-based evening at the Lakewood club in hopes of attracting up-and-coming writers from the Northeast Ohio scene. The result is the Writing Knights Press debut event Sat 7/30 @ Bela Dubby.
“We’ve been together almost two years but basically it started out with article writing and when that wasn’t really fruitful I realized we could do a whole lot for the writing scene in Cleveland,” said Cleveland State University student and Writing Knights visionary Azriel Johnson. “I saw all of these poets I really liked to read, and I had the means to help them and help others get exposed to them.”
They’re called chap books and they are to the aspiring writer-poet what a demo CD is to a local musician. Recently Johnson has helped publish chap books under the Writing Knights Press name for almost all of the poets slated to perform at the inaugural event. The program includes readings from writers Johnson (“Hellfire” and “Heavensent”), Ben Peridol (“Conveyor Belts of Freedom”), Rachel Baker, Colton Bose (“A Stranger in the Alps”), Marissa Hyde (“Not About Love”) and Steve Brightman (“The Logic of Meteors”). Adding a little ambiance to the night will be musicians Diana Chittester and Zach Schraufl.
“This is for anyone who likes good poetry and music,” said Johnson, who has published poetry books Staving Away the Sadness and Erosis Rose, as well as the novel A Warrior’s Destiny: Red. “I feel like it can go across different lines. Bela Dubby is known for the [spoken-word series] but it’s also known for a lot of local bands to play there. Hopefully we can get in touch with both sides of that audience.”
For Johnson’s part, he’ll be reading material from his aforementioned chap books, as well as a few poems from his favorite poet Jim Morrison’s work “Wilderness.” Don’t worry, there will be no lamenting for Jim’s, um, you know, member.
“No, not that poem,” laughed Johnson, who considers his own poetry to be experimental and introspective. “I’ll be doing ‘Horse Latitudes’ and ‘The Ghost Song.’ I’ll also do one from George Carlin. Not a lot of people know he was a poet as well and there’s one of his poems I like.”
Johnson stresses the Writing Knights Press evening will be different from what most people think of when they hear poetry and spoken word.
“Well, it’s not slam poetry, but we’re not against slam poetry,” Johnson said. “Everyone has their own different style, and it’s not going to be like a stuffy, uptight kind of evening. It’s going to be more loose.”
The free Writing Knights Press poetry reading takes place at 11PM on Sat 7/30 @ Bela Dubby, 13321 Madison Ave., Lakewood. Call 216-221-4479. http://WritingKnights.com/index.html.
Freelance writer John Benson spends most of his time writing for various papers throughout Northeast Ohio.
When he’s not writing about music or entertainment, he can be found coaching his two boys in basketball, football and baseball or watching movies with his lovely wife, Maria. John also occasionally writes for CoolCleveland.com.