In mid-March, I was invited by Mark Sebastian Jordan, curator of the newly created monthly poetry event, Borderlands, at Main Street Books in Mansfield, Ohio, to read poetry along with Columbus poet, Andy Roberts. The event and the venue were perfect. Mark says he named the reading series Borderlands because Mansfield, poetically speaking, sits on the borders of Columbus and Cleveland. Both of these cities have distinctive, well-established poet tribes. Dianne Borsenik, who I think of a prominent member of the Cleveland area tribe, came to the reading and read some of her delicious poems during open mic.
This was my first introduction to Andy Robert’s work even though Andy is a well-known Ohio poet from Columbus. (This speaks to the fact that there are so many wonderful poets in Ohio and I am finding new ones every day.) Andy is an accountant, social worker, and poet extraordinaire. His poems have appeared in hundreds of small press publications and literary journals such as Atlanta Review, The Aurorean, Barnwood, Chiron Review, and Coal City Review. Andy’s poetry is surprising and possesses a kind of edginess that I find appealing. Here is a short segment from his poem, “The Blank Need That Eats.” It is taken from his chapbook, Who’s On My Land?
I will put on a clean shirt and walk to the party
and if you still don’t like me
talking about the black eyes of birds
that give back nothing
—no light, no fear, no brain—
while pecking at insects, I’ll leave.
Borderlands takes place at Main Street Books in Mansfield, Ohio, which is sandwiched between Columbus and Cleveland, on the third Saturday of every month from 2-4 p.m.