Deep Cleveland

A serious poetry chapbook publisher is a rare thing, and that’s why I’m so impressed with Deep Cleveland, a long-running street operation emanating from the famously gritty Northeast Ohio home of Stiv Bators, Hart Crane and, of course, d. a. levy, who Deep Cleveland publisher Mark Kuhar dedicates all his work to.

d. a. levy killed himself in 1968. A Cleveland poet named Russell Salamon was levy’s close friend at the time. Salamon is still writing, and his Woodsmoke and Green Tea is a delightful surprise. Salamon has a confident voice that combines a Frostian attention to the details of nature with a Brautigan-esque taste for surreal fantasy. I’m not even sure why I find verses like this so compelling:

She met him at the intersection
of the front door and water falling
from a great height. He entered
the pool of cold meltwater. Fish
slicked around his knees

Later, the poem ends:

they selected a moist fern
under a canopy of redwood
trees, and throbbed, space
in space, in morning fog.

Andrew Lundwall is another poet published by Deep Cleveland. I met Andrew when we performed together at a reading years ago and I know him to be an intensely serious young devotee of surrealist and Dada poetry. His new Klang is a smart and enigmatic work that boldly puts forth lines like this:

so sink that oyster meat with a handful of beer

Lundwall’s work reminds me of the artist Matthew Barney; it’s enthusiastically and extravagantly anti-logical. I like his poems best when he allows a bit of music to creep in, though, as in this verse from Obstacle Course:

debatable tiara
funny dollars
filling the slots
crazy-eyed some
funky ballot
in a whiskey sling
spilling fuel sideways
playing pachinko casino

So far I’m two-for-two with the Deep Cleveland poets, and Mark Kuhar’s own e40th and Pain makes it a sweep. Mark Kuhar has been a frequent contributor to LitKicks in the past, and appeared in our Action Poetry anthology. Kuhar’s poems are always filled with music, a loud beatnik-inspired hard jazz, and they are filled with passion as well. Witness:

welcome to cleveland (now leave)

yr vast pools of ethnic color & imagination,
intricate architecture, neon dirty boulevards,
cheeseball neighborhoods, shady characters, heavy cuisine, thick lake consciousness,
tangle of bridges, winding shine of river,
ore freighters & sailboars, motorcycles, muscle cars,
rust & rivets, tarnished bronze & dusty pearl,
storm clouds, brick roads, factory smoke & hearth fire,
acid rain, sweat & sex, tattoos & gasoline,
yr soundtrack of rock & roll, polka, classical symphonies
& garage band euphoria (wrapped up in an inferiority
complex a mile wide) welcome to cleveland (now leave)

I encourage you to check out the Deep Cleveland catalog, which you’ll find here.

One Response

  1. flowing underground…These
    flowing underground…

    These poem samples relaxed my mind from stress and brought back a feeling like when I first started going to spoken word and poetry readings. Words can be so good.

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